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Spiceworks Review: IT brings its A game

Our monthly roundup of the best discussions on the online community, from defining the value of IT to the rise of shadow IT — and why communication is the ultimate solution.


Workers

Ever stopped to wonder what the value of IT is to your organization — not the cost? Or, perhaps you’ve been asked to define that value to the upper echelons of the company?

Spicehead Jason Krumm asked that question to the Spiceworks community: “I guess this comes down to rather than seeing IT as a cost, which it is, and trying to make it viable as a service that can justify its cost for what it delivers to the organization.”

Outside of empowering individuals to do their jobs and thus bringing in revenue, IT is not in the business of making money, says Captain Hotsauce. It’s in the business of saving money, and that amount is sometimes hard to quantify.

Minimizing downtime, protecting against malware and keeping up good DR practices are just a few examples. “No one in my company has the slightest idea what it is I do all day, but they know if I didn’t do it they would be screwed,” he says.

Sean Murray, aka Sean6595, says ‘streamlining processes and spearheading new endeavors’ may be a catchphrase, but it’s also one way to look at value. “Having a managed network saves me time as I am not getting constant calls or tickets from employees bouncing around from branch to branch needing to get connected to the WiFi, and also saves them time as they don’t have to wait on me to get back to them.”

Another catchphrase: ‘we provide a safe computing experience.’ IT should align with the goals of the business, helping departments interact better, says Scott Berglund. But this only works “as long as the managers of said department communicate with others.”

That brings up another issue of concern to IT pros these days, which is brought about by lack of communication: shadow IT.

Danny Beeson, aka GulfSailor, says shadow IT is a symptom of a bigger problem: “It occurs when the IT department isn’t engaged in the business. Business units then have to resort to self-help because they can’t get the IT to help solve business-technology problems.”

In his past two stints as an IT manager, he’s made a point of meeting — formally or informally — with every business unit on a weekly basis to discuss what was going on in the business that week and if there were any particular challenges they faced.

“Those challenges may not be IT as such but on more than one occasion we were able to help provide a solution to an issue the unit manager didn’t realize we could help them with,” he says. “These meetings also ensured I knew what was going on within the business and allowed us to stay on track to support business goals.”

Quogg agrees that the ultimate solution is communication. Shadow IT is on the rise, he says, because the tech leveraged by shadow IT is often cheaper, easier to use and more readily available than ever.

“Only by getting out of the server room and talking to other employees will we as IT understand what the needs of each user are, in addition to the needs of the business,” he says. “That doesn’t mean giving in to every request, but it does mean explaining why you are saying ‘No.’”

Before he worked in IT, David Loewen says he was Mr. Shadow IT. “It is SO very easy for users to turn to the shadows … the best way to prevent it is to nip it before it starts. Shadow IT is a symptom of soft-skills failure.”

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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