Leaving IT out of the SaaS Loop

Ann All

When we've blogged before about "rogues," we've generally been referring to individual employees who bring favorite consumer technologies with them from home to the office. A more interesting phenomenon is when an entire department or division of a company goes "rogue" by eliminating IT from the loop when it deploys software-as-a-service applications.

 

A corporate recruiting director interviewed in a TechTarget article republished on ComputerWeekly.com says he was able to get a recruitment management module up-and-running much quicker on his own than he could have with direct involvement from IT. He will, however, turn to IT if he desires more advanced functionality from the app.

 

While the director's IT department took a benevolent view of the deployment, problems can obviously result if IT is completely unaware of instances of SaaS -- a not-uncommon situation, contends a VP of research firm Saugatuck Technology. (Indeed, some SaaS vendors foster this practice by making lack of IT involvement a selling point for their products.)

 

The downsides of such stealth deployments include a passel of security and integration issues, not to mention residual bad feelings between IT and business folks.

 

As with individual rogues, however, IT would do well to remember that frustration, not spite, is generally what motivates folks to circumvent IT. Perhaps some realistic plans to give users more control over their own destinies are in order.


 

On the other hand, while business folks should expect to be involved in software review and selection processes, IT should get the final word.

 

As an Oracle executive says in a recent CRM Buyer article republished on E-Commerce-Times:

"A lot of interfaces are now in the hands of business users. It is essential that there is a clear understanding of who really owns and administers the application."

The trend is broadening beyond SaaS, points out an InformationWeek columnist, noting that several major vendors including IBM and BEA are selling tools that allow business folks to create enterprise mashups.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 12, 2007 2:35 AM Chris Chris  says:
One of the problems we encounter as business people is that IT is slow to adopt SaaS for self preservation or ego ("I could build it better"). Often deploying an application that requires less resources and billed by use (operational) rather than by privilege to use (capital) is more appealing to the CEO/CFO than most IT departments realize. CIOs should seek SaaS applications that replace applications they are not getting any better at supporting. Reply
Sep 12, 2007 4:23 AM Ching Ching  says:
Can't agree more about skipping IT. For a long time, IT has portrayed itself as the centre of universe. They hide behind processes and more often tells you what cannot be done, but never the resolution. I think SaaS is a good thing. Reply
Sep 13, 2007 4:31 AM Tim Tim  says:
I agree frustration is probably the main driver for departments to steathily deploy Saas but that can't be a good reason to potentially expose your business to external elements.Is bypassing internal security measures and processes a good thing? IT departments may frustrate and in some cases obstruct but it is a BIG mistake to introduce new systems regardless if it is Saas or not without some input from a technical person.IT departments have been to blame as they lost focus on what they should be doing which is supporting the business. A lot of IT departments now see themselves as the protectors of the business by preventing non technical, uneducated personnel from doing or accessing too much by locking down desktops etc...Ultimately if you find you need to bypass IT then they are not doing their job correctly and something needs to be done - IT is business support or if you like a support service. Technology by itself does not make a business the user does. Reply
Sep 13, 2007 7:21 AM Peter Mills Peter Mills  says:
I don't agree with the claim that IT 'should' have the final say. IT can offer an assessment of the new service, and an opinion, but unless the new SaaS service is going to flood the network, adoption is not ITs call.SaaS demands a new model of engagement between IT and the business. IT has to learn the imperatives of business and become a partner, not a gatekeeper. Reply
Apr 10, 2008 8:27 AM Gail La Grouw Gail La Grouw  says:
Think this comment is back to front "On the other hand, while business folks should expect to be involved in software review and selection processes, IT should get the final word".I believe it should be that "IT is involved in the selection process, but the business get the final word" Reply
Sep 30, 2010 1:35 AM William Silva William Silva  says:

When you leave a good IT dept out of the loop on tech matters you open the door for a great many problems.  Many times people feel like IT moves to slow or aren't looking out for the company's needs but the question that often gets skipped is why.  I personally love SaaS but like any environment or architecture it is not a one size fits all.  A department may choose software for ease of use but do they take into account compliance, security, bandwidth, integration with other line of business products?

As an IT professional I believe it is my responsibility to improve each user's daily productivity and experience while protecting both the company and the user from common pitfalls that they don't know to look for.  Granted when I won't adopt or recommend something I usually find it productive to talk with all the parties involved or affected and inform them of exactly why.  Communication seems to be the biggest breakdown in many cases.

I could put it as thus.  Nurse say to patient "The doctor is taking his time to prep and I play operation at home so I will just go ahead and get started opening you up without telling him."  Do you want to be that patient?

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