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Why decentralized IT governance continues to plague enterprise organizations

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(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

It’s a question as old as – well, not time, but it’s an old question. How should CIOs and IT professionals at enterprise companies manage software governance? While a smaller or mid-sized company may be able to effectively manage software applications, the more companies scale up, the greater the chance that a department or tech-savvy individual introduces Slack or a new project management program, for example, to try to make their lives easier. 

Of course, the marketing team using Slack or Dropbox isn’t exactly the biggest threat to governance and IT safety, considering those companies’ positive security reputations. Rather, the larger issue is when individuals or departments deploy disjointed and potentially unapproved software. When this happens, it’s because IT isn’t privy to the gaps that are necessitating the software in the first place.

Below are three reasons why decentralized IT governance continues to plague organizations - and what they can do to fix it. 

Overburdened IT departments don’t have the resources to manage software requests 

It’s no secret that IT teams are plagued by a backlog of requests and don’t have the resources, including time and labor, to fulfill them all. In fact, a recent survey found that only 12 percent of the IT departments follow up on all employee requests for new technologies.

Instead of following this model, enterprises should better arm their employees with the software they need to execute the jobs from day one. Ultimately, software should work the way people do, including having the ability to adapt and flex at speed. Versatile tools, like process automation platforms or no-code, can be used to streamline workflows and automate processes, all with guardrails put in place by IT. This can overall help reduce hours and the number of human-prone errors that often occur with manual processes. 

Because let’s be real: excel spreadsheets are not solutions to every problem. Rather, smart companies will look to innovative solutions like centers of excellence models that employees can use as guardrails, taking the burden off IT and empowering employees across the organization.

Employees are desperate for better software solutions

Whether we’re talking about work, social justice movements, the disruption brought on by Covid-19, or just about any problem out there, it’s clear that those closest to the problem are best suited to come up with actionable solutions.

So why should software be any different? Employees and line of business users are closer to the problems they face every day than anyone else in the organization, especially CIOs and IT leaders. They know where gaps and opportunities lie related to workflows and processes. CIOs and IT departments can get ahead of this issue by deploying cloud applications that are fast, efficient, and put powerful solutions into the hands of frontline employees. 

This serves a number of benefits. First, it relieves the aforementioned overburdened IT departments from fulfilling countless software requests. Second, it grants employees a sense of authority and decision-making authority, creating a greater passion for their day-to-day responsibilities. And third, it prevents the onset of so-called shadow IT, meaning employees will not go around the system in a rogue manner.

Overall, a top-down and bottom-up approach, where IT departments properly and clearly explain the benefits, put guardrails in place and more, and line of business users actually have the tools in place to solve their problems, will bring about the opportunity to align cross-department processes and streamline unproductive tasks.

Duplicate systems create overlapping and unnecessary costs

Imagine finding out that your sales department and your marketing department are each paying out-of-pocket expenses for tools that are doubling costs and stretching budgets. You may be shocked but it’s fairly common at enterprise organizations. In fact, there’s a stat that says the average enterprise company uses more than 1,000 point solutions. CIOs and other leaders should endeavor to, at least annually, conduct a comprehensive audit to determine redundancies and areas to streamline efforts and costs, which will go a long way in making an organization operate more efficiently.

I spent a decade in Silicon Valley working with highly complex IT organizations at massive companies on large-scale digital transformation projects. It’s a tall order. One multinational organization was urgently looking to modernize its app estate, which had thousands of line of business apps. Looking at this proposal, the most optimistic projections were modernizing 2-3 apps a day, meaning they were really looking at 8-10 year timelines to get the evolution of these apps completed.

Enterprises want - and need - better plans to move to the cloud. The problem often comes with leaders being too focused on the big picture - the large-scale digital transformation. While that’s still very important, they often overlook the edges of the business and where there may be redundancies, inefficiencies, and poorly orchestrated processes and workflows. This is where having tools in place that are streamlined and efficient across the organization can lead to quick wins, and keep IT teams happy. 

As we get closer to “return to the office,” many companies are going to adopt a hybrid remote work model, and IT leaders will be tapped to find the tools and resources that allow the entire team to work efficiently and effectively, especially when more than half the team may be remote. It’s more important than ever before for IT governance to be centralized. A strategic partnership between IT and department heads will be key in ensuring everyone has the tools they need to be successful, all without sacrificing cost, time, and security.

Jay Jamison, Chief Product & Technology Officer, Quickbase