back to article Shine a light on the rogue IT that hides in the company shadows

The rapid development of technology over the years has brought us a culture where people use technology wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Only 20 years ago a portable PC or Mac that you could use to work on the move was very expensive, and if you wanted to do serious work on a spreadsheet then you had to drive …

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    1. HollyHopDrive

      I have to disagree with this article for a number of reasons, but not least because you are suggesting letting the tail wag the dog.

      There is the other problem of outsourcing....while I harp on about this a lot it is one of the reasons this will never happen. For a start, they are trying to keep things cheap, this means you are getting the cheapest resource india (or other favoured outsource nation) can provide. Its based on the goal of cost and if you want somebody who has been coding for more a year or so good luck with that. Also, a lot of 'learning on the job'. While there must be a place for this somewhere the whole 'ship it out' mentality means its all shit.

      Then to counter the lack of experience/knowledge the then limit what is available for use within the business. And then because they (IT) themselves know the offshore lot are not much better than a waste of space they then limit what they can actually do with the platforms all under the banner of 'Governance'.

      The the decisions on what we (the business) can do and the 'techies' can do are all set by a bunch of goons who've been promoted way above their abilities and only care about their department/area. So when the business request something (oh, like a database) they get told no, or yes but it will be delivered in 10 months.

      So the invertible shadow IT pops up.

      However, I make a tidy living from this nonsense and being more techie than most techies I have to deal with means a) they can't bullshit me b) I can make some inroads where others cant.

      Then I sit in front of a load of business users and help get them to where they need to be, or as close as we can within the 'rules'. And I sell them a list of compromises and ideas to work around any real restrictions.

      Stupid thing is the business I work for wastes millions on consultants and contractors (and me!) because instead of IT being just a business function that provides services to the business they let the IT dept dictate what is allowed within the business. Hardly a way to grow a business.

      Its a hard fact to face, IT (in a non IT businesses) will never make the business money. Its a cost and a tool, pure and simple. (like running a VAN / Building / Machine etc). However, used correctly you can provide your product (the bit the company actually sells) with better insight and lower cost but it requires a monumental shift in thinking on both sides. (the one team pulling in the same direction philosophy)

      Its been like this for well over the last 15 years and is getting steadily worse, so I can't imagine we will see a u-turn any time soon.

      I'll await the down votes from all the techies who think the business make ridiculous demands (which I agree, sometimes they do with unrealistic nonsensical timelines and requirements) but thats an education thing which can easily be dealt with by not saying "No" to everything but rather 'lets discuss'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Its a hard fact to face, IT (in a non IT businesses) will never make the business money."

        Sorry to say but you are talking out of your arse. I struggle to believe your credentials if you feel an IT department can't create systems, software and solutions to make a company money. Whether it is financial systems to allow for rapid trading, e-commerce systems or Customer paid solutions.

        They are also able to create solutions that reduce resources and improve efficiency leading to a big saving in payroll costs. Maybe do a course in economic productivity and see whether IT can help make a business money then come back and tell us what you learnt.

        An IT department I know recently created a £150,000 p/a income generating system for a total outlay of £13,000.

        1. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

          I dont think you follow AC.

          yes you make things easier and make savings - in the same way that a van or a set stepladders does for a window cleaner, as hollyhop said

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Make it mandatory for all software licences to be registered centrally, and forbid unauthorised staff members from signing licences or contracts."

    If there are no consequences for ignoring such mandates people will do so. Get the bean-counters to agree that any dept. the drops the business in it by breaking licensing rules will have any penalties that the vendors impose charged against them. If nothing else it will protect the IT budget.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you for pointing out...'re the same bloke who wrote the big Microsoft advertisement a few months ago.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "From a governance perspective you will experience a living nightmare when one of the big software vendors arrives and asks you to show what software licences you are using and which ones you have paid for."

    No nightmare unless they do turn up with a court order in hand.

  5. Yugguy

    We are riddled with this crap

    The business buys some shiny crap. It doesnt do what they want.

    Then they chuck at us and tell us to make it do what they want.

    But it won't, we say, because you just bought it without properly looking at it.

    "lalalalalalalalalalalalalala" they say.

    1. Palpy

      Re: We are riddled with this crap

      Yugguy: "The business buys some shiny crap. It doesn't do what they want."


      Our buyers got us a database application provided with an Excel plug-in as a front-end. Hideously slow. Hideously awkward. Limited availability due to per-seat licensing.

      My workgroup built shadow IT using SQLite and a .net point-and-click front-end. Very fast, very easy to use. No licensing issues.

      Amusing coda; the off-shelf software has started locking users out. Almost nobody can access it anymore. IT can't figure out why.

      *shrug* "This is the real world, muchachos, and we are in it."

  6. Anonymous Coward

    "you risk legal issues"

    An IT friend has recently had this very thing to deal with. One dept bought a cloud-based CRM and didn't bother asking IT or legal about any potential problems. The biggest single issue is that customer data is stored overseas which just happens to break local laws. The idiot dept is also tied into a long contract too.

  7. LucreLout

    Missing an item

    I work for a large bank. We have thousands of developers. Many of those developers take it upon themselves to embed their latest CV++ fad into their production code, which management are ill equipped to prevent, given their general lack of understanding code/IT, and so whatever the junior dev read about on some blog last night is now out in the wild.

    I know all of the reasons that it shouldn't happen, but it does. And not just here. Large corporate IT is just as bad as the business for pseduo-random installs.

  8. phuzz Silver badge

    One of our clients just came to us with a problem. Their HR department (one person), just decided to buy a new HR 'solution' which allows end uses to book holidays and view pay slips etc over the web.

    The problem is that it only works in IE.

    Oh, and the cheque is already signed before they bothered mentioning it to their IT department.

    So we're asked "can you set up a way so that all the shop users can access it?". As all the shops are running linux we just turned around and said "no, sorry".

    After much wailing and gnashing of teeth we're going to look at a Remote Desktop connection back to a server in head office which will allow them access to a copy of IE. Hopefully the cost will be more than the cost of a new HR solution and they can just ignore the old one.

    1. John Sanders

      Sadly I have been there

      """The problem is that it only works in IE."""

      I have been there (ah the painful memories)

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      "After much wailing and gnashing of teeth we're going to look at a Remote Desktop connection back to a server in head office which will allow them access to a copy of IE. Hopefully the cost will be more than the cost of a new HR solution and they can just ignore the old one."

      I use an RDP session into my general purpose work desktop most days from my linux laptop and it works rather well for 'business app' administration type things (not so well for anything that needs graphics). I'm a teacher so I suppose we get cheap licences &c. I prefer the rdesktop client but remina does actually work as well.

      Coat: Mine's the one with holiday brochures in the pocket.

      1. SecretSonOfHG

        Yes, you can do it, the point is, should you?

        Keitjh, I think that the OP was trying to say that while there are solutions that allow you to use IE-exclusive applications from other OSes, in this particular case it is all a monumental waste of time and resources that could be prevented simply by not allowing that particular HR drone to sign off a software purchase without IT oversight.

  9. VinceH

    'a numpty “IT-savvy” user'


    That is all.

  10. Buzzword

    Bill directly to departments & projects

    Maybe IT could be billed directly to departments that use them, rather than funded centrally. Following the money tends to concentrate minds wonderfully, and departments may be pleasantly surprised to see how much cheaper it is to use internal resources rather than engaging external consultancies.

    You'd still need some central IT oversight to make sure they follow common standards, coding conventions, security policy, etc., so you'd end up billing only half their time to projects / departments and the rest to central office. It'd still be an improvement though.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All good suggestions on how to run IT and engage with the business and users

    The biggest problem you always face in recommending best practice, is the push back you get from people who (wrongly) believe they are already doing it correctly.

    It's not the preaching to the converted you need to worry about, it's those people who are doing it wrong but can't see it.

    Keep up the articles on this theme. Maybe the penny will drop eventually where it needs to.

  12. Fungus Bob

    To summarize the article...

    Shadow IT: The shit that works

  13. Robert Helpmann??

    On the Other Hand

    I have worked in a few enterprise environments in which there were actually multiple IT departments. Some of these were more like groups within existing cost centers (a fairly decentralized arrangement) while others were full-fledged IT departments, each with their own budget, services, and internal customers. I am sure that in at least some of these instances the separate IT groups started up with a few local employees trying to find a solution to a need no-one else had.

    Also: Nobody can complain if you do this: you are simply protecting the security and integrity of the network. This is simply wrong. I have seen way too many cases of people arguing against basic safety rules, both IT and non-IT, for me to buy this.

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