How “Shadow IT” Could Actually Help Your IT Department.

When you need custom software developed, you have two options: use in-house software developers or outsource to a software development firm. While your preference is likely to use in-house resources, your development team may not be available and recruiting newstaff will be challenging and time-consuming, especially if there’s a talent gap in your market.

Most organizations can’t wait too long to get started on a software development project. They need to move quickly in the marketplace, they need to be agile and innovative. If you cannot accommodate this with your in-house resources — and most companies can’t — then business stakeholders may circumvent you and engage . a third-party company.

Gartner reports that while Shadow IT is not a new phenomenon, it is on a rapid rise because of the growing “digital divide” between what IT can provide and what the enterprise needs. Many IT departments see shadow IT as a threat because it can lead to security, integration and technical debt problems down the road. However, shadow IT isn’t going away and you could turn the threat into an opportunity for your department by embracing shadow IT and building a strong partnership with a software development firm. Here are three ways how embracing shadow IT could benefit your IT department.

1. Get To Market Faster

Any time you develop custom software, a key goal is to get to market faster than your competitors. With overworked in-house software developers and a growing backlog of tasks, embracing shadow IT often helps you to get started on new software immediately and deliver quickly. If your organization is working with an external partner that you trust, you can let business stakeholders move forward with the project while you have the confidence that sound technology decisions are being made and you won’t end up with technical debt down the road.

2. Lessen The Burden On The IT Department

In many companies, the IT department is overworked and understaffed. IT keeps the company’s technology running, supports the business and continuously works to put out fires. Handling requests for new custom software only adds to the IT department’s task list and leads to an increased workload.

By working with an external software development firm, management has access to software developers who can help you develop creative innovative software solutions. This allows your IT department to focus on other important business-related tasks.

3. Improve your In-House Development Capabilities

Shadow IT is often seen as a threat to your IT department, but working with an outside software development firm may bring new insights, methodologies and best practices for software development to your organization.. Instead of having the “us versus them” mentality, think of an external team as an extension of your IT department.

By taking a teaming approach to shadow IT, there’s greater visibility and transparency across your organization. A fully functional agile team provides all necessary capabilities and processes for software development. Instead of, for example, handing over critical business data to independent contractors, you transfer it to a team you trust to manage and execute software development.

Teaming also offers an excellent environment for collaboration and flexibility. By developing a strong partnership with a software development firm, you may benefit from quicker turnaround times, higher quality software and increased productivity among internal team members.

The technology landscape is rapidly changing. Although shadow IT is often seen as a challenge for IT departments, embracing its benefits may help your team in the long run. Not only will you reduce the burden on your in-house team, but the extra help can get you to market faster and allow you to develop a new partnership with an experienced software development firm.

The article was originally posted on the Small Footprint website.