An organizations’ IT department is responsible for the management and maintenance of the organizations technology infrastructure. This departments primary role it to ensure that these technologies support the organizations business operations, increase productivity and assists in reaching the organizations overall goals, explains Indeed (2023a). While this department faces multiple difficulties, this article will focus on 3 of them.
IT Infrastructure Complexity:
Infrastructure complexity refers to the level of intricacy of an organizations IT infrastructure and occurs when an IT environment becomes overly complex (Voronkov, 2015) as a result of accelerated organizational growth, legacy systems, technological advancements, evolving business requirements and so on. As a result of either of these causes, IT departments struggle to manage and maintain this infrastructure effectively.
As mentioned above, one of the primary causes of infrastructure complexity is legacy systems. Many organizations have older systems that have been in place for a long period of time, often running their critical operations. Due to these systems being older, there is a strong likelihood that they aren’t compatible with newer technologies, making integration and management more challenging. Additionally, out-dated systems may require specialized knowledge of that system, further complicating maintenance efforts (ICS, n.d.).
Vendor proliferation is another factor that contributes to IT infrastructure complexity. Organizations often contract multiple vendors to fulfil their various IT needs, like; networking, storage, security and cloud services. Each of these vendors will have their preferred set of tools, interfaces and management systems resulting in a fragmented IT infrastructure that requires different skill sets and resources to manage effectively.
- An increased risk of system failures / downtime.
- Limited ability to scale infrastructure according to the organizations’ needs.
- Limited innovation due to IT departments spending a large amount of time maintaining and managing the organizations current infrastructure.
- Consolidate existing infrastructure.
- Implement automation tools and processes within the organizations to streamline routine tasks and reduce manual efforts by IT departments.
- Take advantage of cloud services. Cloud platforms often provide scalable and flexible solutions that can simplify IT operations.
Shadow IT and Unauthorized Software:
Shadow IT refers to the use of “information technology systems, devices, software, applications, and services” within an organization without the knowledge, approval or control of the IT department, explains Forcepoint (n.d.). It typically occurs when employees or departments adopt and implement technology tools or software without following the proper organizational policies and procedures (Forcepoint, n.d.). This can lead to various challenges and risks for the IT department and the organization as a whole.
Unauthorized software is defined by Law Insider (n.d.) as the use of applications or software that have not been approved by the organizations IT department. These types of applications or software can be commercially available software, freeware, shareware or even custom-developed applications.
Shadow IT and unauthorized software have the ability to create multiple threats for an organization’s IT department. Firstly, it reduces control and visibility of the organization’s technology landscape (Forcepoint, n.d.) as IT departments are unaware of the different unauthorised software and technology solutions being adopted by the organizations employees. This make it challenging to track, manage and secure these applications thus leading to compatibility issues, security vulnerabilities and potential data breaches (Forcepoint, n.d.).
Secondly, shadow IT can lead to compliance and regulatory risks (Forcepoint, n.d.). Most industries have specific regulations and standards that must be adhered to, such as data protection, privacy and security requirements. When employees make use of unauthorized software, they put the organization at risk of non-compliance with these regulations which could potentially result in legal and financial consequences for the organization.
- Develop a comprehensive IT policy that clearly defines which technologies and software have been approved for use within the organization.
- Conduct regular training and awareness programs to educate employees about the risks and consequences of shadow IT (Forcepoint, n.d.).
- Ensure that the IT department has the necessary resources, expertise and capacity to support the technology needs of the organization (Voronkov, 2015).
IT Budget Constraints:
IT budget constraints refer to restrictions that have been placed on the financial resources allocated to an organization’s IT department (Indeed, 2023b). These constraints can arise from various factors such as budget cuts, priority shifts, economic downturns etc. When IT departments face budget constraints, it can impact their ability to manage and support the organization’s technology needs effectively.
Budget constraints in an IT department can have several consequences. Firstly, it can limit their investments in new technologies or inhibit necessary upgrades to existing infrastructure. This means that IT department may have to continue using out-dated systems or equipment, which can lead to performance issues, security vulnerabilities and compatibility challenges.
Secondly, budget constraints can impact an IT department’s ability to attract and retain skilled IT professionals as competitive salaries and career development opportunities are essential for attracting top talent in the IT industry.
- Conduct a thorough assessment of the IT department’s spending to identify areas where costs can be optimized. (ICS, n.d.).
- Consider outsourcing certain IT functions or leveraging managed services to reduce costs. This can involve partnering with external service providers to handle specific tasks such as helpdesk support, infrastructure management or cyber security (Voronkov, 2015).
- Collaborate with different business units. Work closely with other organizational departments to understand their technology needs and explore opportunities for cost-sharing or resource pooling.
Forcepoint. (n.d.). What is Shadow it?. Forcepoint. https://www.forcepoint.com/cyber-edu/shadow-it#:~:text=Shadow%20IT%20is%20the%20use,cloud%2Dbased%20applications%20and%20services
ICS. (n.d.). How to reduce the complexity of your IT infrastructure. Irish Computer Society. https://www.ics.ie/news/view/1666
Indeed. (2023, March 11a). Information Technology (IT): What Does an IT Department Do?. Indeed. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/it-department
Indeed. (2023, March 11b). What Is a Budget Constraint? (With Example). Career development. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/budget-constraint
Law Insider. (n.d.). Unauthorized software definition. https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/unauthorized-software#:~:text=Unauthorized%20Software%20means%20software%20which,the%20head%20of%20an%20organisation
Voronkov, K. (2015, October 5). Overcoming IT infrastructure complexity. Kaspersky. https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/overcoming-it-infrastructure-complexity/4613/