When it comes to technology decisions, business users and IT departments may not always agree. This is known as “shadow IT”, and it can create a difficult situation for organizations undergoing a digital transformation. Specifically, when embracing citizen development, it can be difficult to balance the need for innovation and control.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. With the right low-code platform, such as TrackVia, it is practical to empower business users to create custom applications and automate their processes, while keeping IT departments informed and in control. You can mitigate shadow IT work with citizen development and provide best practices for successful IT collaboration.

What is Shadow IT & Citizen Development?

To fully understand the risk of shadow IT, it is important to fully understand what it is and how it comes to fruition. Shadow IT is the use of technology within an organization that is unauthorized or not approved by the IT department. This can include the use of cloud-based applications, desktop software, and even custom-built applications.

Immature organizations are more likely to suffer from shadow IT, as they lack the governance necessary to ensure that the IT department is aware of all technology decisions.

Risks from Shadow IT include: non-compliance, unknown expansion of attack surfaces, lost control & visibility, lost data, system inefficiencies, and cost.

Shadow IT can be a major issue if not managed correctly, as it can introduce security threats, compliance violations, and inefficiency into the organization. On the other hand, when managed correctly, these under the radar technologies can be powerful tools that can enable innovation and increase efficiency. This is where citizen development comes in.

Citizen development is the ability for business users to create applications and automate their processes without relying on the IT department. This can be done with a low-code platform like TrackVia, which allows users to create custom applications and automate their processes quickly and easily.

Managing Risk: Governance & Access Permissions

The key to managing risk created by shadow IT is to ensure that the IT department is aware of all technology decisions and can maintain control over them. Many organizations suffering from shadow IT feel that it is a technical problem, where in reality it is a governance issue.

The first step in mitigating and resolving shadow IT is to establish a governance framework that outlines the roles and responsibilities of the IT department, business users, and other stakeholders. This should include guidelines for setting up new technologies, as well as procedures for communication and collaboration between IT and business users. This framework should consider citizen development and aim to balance the need for control and innovation.

For smaller organizations undergoing a digital transformation, it’s essential to avoid bureaucratic bloat and lengthy approval processes. Instead, focus on providing guidelines on self-responsibility and security, while still allowing users to innovate.

Steps to ensure a successful coexistence with citizen developers and IT professionals in an organization, resolving “shadow IT”.

Another important factor to consider is access permissions. When working with TrackVia, it is important to understand who can access the platform and what kind of data they are able to access. TrackVia provides a range of secure role-based access permissions, allowing IT departments to maintain control while still giving business users the ability to create applications and automate processes.

Promoting Innovation: Rapid Prototyping & Iteration

Once the governance and access permissions have been set up, the focus should shift to encouraging innovation. The goal should be to enable users to create custom applications and automate their processes with TrackVia quickly and easily.

TrackVia’s low-code platform allows for rapid prototyping and iteration, enabling users to quickly build, deploy, and test applications. This allows users to quickly conceptualize their ideas, explore new ideas, and experiment with different approaches. The result is an environment that promotes innovation and encourages users to think differently.

One of the first apps you can build in TrackVia is an idea tracker, which allows for everyone in your organization to submit their app ideas and suggestions. This is a great way to get started, as it not only encourages users to think differently, but it also allows the IT department to see what kind of ideas are being proposed and provide feedback in a timely manner.

In the long-term, this type of idea board promotes a culture of collaboration and innovation within the organization.

Quick iterations of applications should also be encouraged. Again, there is a fine line between too much governance and limiting innovation. Within your organization, it’s likely overkill to have the IT department audit every minor change and addition to an application. Instead, it should be encouraged that users manage the apps themselves and have the capability to quickly iterate on applications and test new ideas.

Best Practices for Successful IT Collaboration

To ensure successful IT collaboration between citizen developers and technical decision makers, it is important to follow best practices. A focus on establishing mutual goals and creating a communication culture of transparency and trust will ensure that both IT personnel and citizen developers are able to work together efficiently and productively.

The first step is to create a shared vision and establish mutual goals between the IT department and business users. Including a shared understanding of what is expected from both teams and a clear outline of the roles and responsibilities that each team member should follow. This can include regular check-ins or meetings, as well as a clear system of communication that allows users to quickly and easily ask questions, provide feedback, and discuss new ideas.

Finally, at some points in a digital transformation, IT personnel, decision makers, and business users may feel uneasy and uncertain. This is a natural feeling when organizations mature and technology changes. It is important to create an open and collaborative environment, where all stakeholders feel comfortable speaking up and expressing their ideas. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that all stakeholders are able to work together to embrace a successful transformation.

Embracing Citizen Development

Shadow IT can be a difficult issue to manage, but the key is to bring it into the light and find a solution to that will empower your business users. By embracing citizen development, with the right tools and practices, it can be a bring innovation and efficiency to your company. With a low-code platform like TrackVia, it is possible to encourage business users to automate and manage their processes by creating their own custom applications, while keeping IT departments informed and in control.

The key to making shadow IT work with citizen development is to establish a strong governance framework and access permissions, promote innovation and rapid prototyping, and create a culture of transparency and trust. By following these guidelines, organizations can ensure that both IT and business users can collaborate successfully and create valuable applications with TrackVia. 

If you’d like to get started with empowering your own citizen developers, why not get a Free Demo of how it could work with TrackVia?

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