Don’t focus on the hype of Shadow IT, focus on the user and ROI

Shadow IT ROIWith the current trend of the industry,  IT professionals have the opportunity to impact businesses more than can be imaged. As we have seen from the Target security breach, a failure in IT can cost millions but the more typical issue is that a failure in IT just impedes the business. Shadow IT is the current buzz word for departments creating their own IT solutions. In one of my past lives, I was part of a shadow IT project. We determined that for our department to be successful, it was imperative that we proceed with a project before our turn in the backlog. IT was willing to support the project and wanted to see us be successful. They just didn’t have time or resources to support the project. This project occurred years ago, long before shadow IT was a trend and point of discussion.

Recent studies have shown that IT spending for 2013 was at least 2.68 trillion dollars. But the curious part of this is that over 80% of that will be spent on KTLO (Keeping the Lights On). As each new project is completed, it will have a new maintenance cost. Over the next few years without a change,  IT will run out of resources to implement new projects. This limited set of resources is causing IT to have a large backlog of projects furthering the desire for departments to run shadow IT projects. After a shadow IT project is implemented then the department wants to hand the project back to IT. In essence that project was able to circumvent the backlog and move to the top of the priority list.

As IT departments, we need to make sure that we analyze that all projects are producing the ROI that we expect and require. What is the impact to the User? Are they more productive because of this project or product? What is the experience of the admin, is it a sustainable project, is it easy, can it be adopted? Does the solution solve a business problem? Is the ROI real, did we save money, did we get budget back from consolidation? If we focus on these areas, we will be able to transform to the IT department of the future.