Remote working wasn’t the only thing to increase during the pandemic, there was also a rise in authorized cloud use for work (also known as shadow IT). It’s estimated that the number of unknown apps used for business data is at least 10x that of known applications.
Shadow IT use usually starts innocently enough. An employee looks for an application to do a certain work task to make it easier. Or they may begin using an app they saw a friend using without realizing it’s a security risk to use apps that haven’t been company-approved.
There are several reasons why you should not allow the use of unauthorized applications for work. These include:
- Shadow IT is a cybersecurity risk.
- You can suffer data loss because of being unaware an app holds company data.
- You can end up spending money on redundant apps that employees are using without permission.
- Processes can become fractured because employees are using different apps to do the same thing.
- It becomes impossible to optimize your cloud environment because of so many unauthorized apps.
Approximately 80% of employees use unauthorized apps for work that no one at their company has reviewed.
There’s a good chance that you have some employees at your company that are unknowingly endangering your data security with the use of unauthorized apps.
Steps to Take to Get a Handle on Shadow IT
Find Out What Applications Are Being Used
It’s important to approach unauthorized app use from the basis of fixing an issue, not punishing people. If you haven’t had a formal cloud use policy in place, then employees most likely have no idea that they’re doing anything wrong.
A great first step is to survey your employees about their application use. You can take this opportunity to both root out applications being used for work that you didn’t know about and to make your cloud infrastructure more efficient.
Use survey questions along the lines of:
- Please list all the cloud applications you use in your workflow.
- List your 3 favorite work apps and explain why.
- List your 3 least favorite work apps and explain why.
- Which apps did you wish our company made available and why?
You can make this process easier by using an online tool like Microsoft Forms, which enables users to fill out their answers online, and all surveys are instantly collated for you.
Take a Look at Optimizing Your Cloud Infrastructure
Based upon your employee survey results, take a fresh look at your cloud infrastructure with the goal of streamlining and optimizing. It’s helpful to work with an IT professional like Connect2Geek during this process. We can provide valuable insight to help you reduce cloud costs and remove redundancy.
You’ll also want help deciding between applications. For example, you may use one app for video conferencing, but find out that several of your employees have gravitated to another tool that you didn’t know about. It could be that the tool your employees found is a better option.
Put a Cloud Update Strategy in Place
Now you’ll want to take your optimization insights and create a plan to implement the chosen applications. Any type of transformation of business tools and workflows requires time and planning.
Put together a strategy that includes communicating with your team, training to give them time to learn the new processes, and plenty of support to help people through any challenges they may have.
During this time, it’s important to stress that these are the collective cloud tools that came about from everyone’s input along with professional guidance. This provides ownership to your employees of the process, which helps reduce their resistance to a change in work tools.
Shut Down Accounts for Apps You Aren’t Planning to Use
For any unauthorized applications that you are not choosing to adopt in your new cloud infrastructure, you need to capture any company data in the application and transfer it where it needs to be (for example the chosen app for the same process).
Ensure that accounts are closed, and no company data is left unaccounted for in shadow IT apps.
Put a Cloud Use Policy in Place
Now that you’ve gone through the process to clean up shadow IT, you don’t want to have another issue with runaway app usage in the future. You should put a cloud use policy in place and ensure all employees understand it.
Prohibit the use of any cloud applications for work that aren’t expressly approved by the company. You should also give employees a way to suggest applications they feel would benefit their productivity. This gives employees a way to make suggestions and helps you continue to be aware of any tools that could enhance your infrastructure.
Need Help Controlling Unauthorized Cloud App Usage?
Connect2Geek can help your Treasure Valley area business take the steps necessary to get a handle on shadow IT and put policies in place to keep it from happening in the future.
Schedule your free consultation to learn more today! Call 208-468-4323 or reach out online.