5 Proven Ways to Manage Shadow IT

By Brad Ellison| July 28, 2017

In our last blog, It’s Time to Deal with the Shadow IT Problem, we explored how Shadow IT is fundamentally changing the role of IT, leading many organizations to explore Managed Services as a solution. Today, we’re going to look at some of the specific areas in which the proliferation of Shadow IT is forcing businesses of all shapes and sizes to reevaluate how they effectively manage their rapidly changing IT landscape.


Although IT can’t provision cloud services at the speed the business demands, they can at least begin to identify where Shadow IT is happening. Given that cloud adoption is only going to grow from here, efforts should be made now to put a cloud governance program in place that sets up boundaries so adoption abides by compliance, regulatory, and security rules, while also encouraging flexibility and innovation for the end-user.

This will require a variety of flexible technologies, operational models, skills, and organizational structure changes. Since most IT teams do not have the time or resources to spend on building and managing a cloud governance program, CIOs are reaching out to managed service providers who can help develop and enforce them.

Business Alignment

Shadow IT has illuminated a much larger issue we’ve been talking about for years –  the lack of alignment between business and IT. As more departments across the business are becoming accustomed to acquiring technology on their own, they’re bypassing any strategic planning that takes into account company-wide business capabilities, optimizing ROI, resource planning, and potential vulnerabilities.

Although IT is often no longer involved in deploying cloud solutions, they are inevitably pulled back in after something goes wrong. When IT is kept in the dark until an issues arises, they’re forced to take a reactive role in fixing the issue – sometimes a critical issue that endangers the entire organization. Therefore, the IT department needs to be involved in the strategic planning from the beginning. Only then can the IT department work with the business to build a more proactive, strategy-first approach to leveraging technology that enables the business.


Effectively managing Shadow IT requires a significant culture change not only within the IT department, but throughout the company as a whole. While we’ve talked a lot about the challenges of Shadow IT, it can also be used as an opportunity to understand the users, listen to their feedback, and learn more about the problems they’re trying to solve. In turn, this open line of communication allows the IT department to implement security training to educate end users on the potential risks of introducing unauthorized applications into the workplace.

By increasing communication and transparency, IT can begin to better understand the programs users rely on, determine the risks, and offer comparable solutions to achieve beneficial outcomes for all.


While improving communication across departments is an important step towards slowing down the rapid growth of Shadow IT, the responsibility of identifying where Shadow IT is happening and mitigating risk still lie in the hands of the IT department. This is where network sniffers and security scanning tools come into play to help monitor and notify the IT department when unknown tools or applications pop up. This process of due diligence is a tedious one, but necessary in the age of Shadow IT. One way to reduce the number of unauthorized applications entering the workplace is to take steps towards the consolidation of vendors. The release of integrated software suites like Office 365 is one way businesses are succeeding in taming the Shadow IT problem.


There is no denying Shadow IT is a complex issue, one that places new requirements and expectations that are often outside the core competencies the IT department. Effectively managing Shadow IT may require your business to consider partnering with an outside provider who has the tools, expertise, and leadership to effectively manage Shadow IT.

To learn more about how you can cut down your risk of a breach by 33%, as well as benefit from other positive side effects such as strengthening business alignment, reducing costs, and increasing user experience, contact us to learn more about our Managed Services offerings.

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