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Home|Nintex Blog|Are Inefficient Processes to Blame for Shadow IT?

Are Inefficient Processes to Blame for Shadow IT?

As employees, we often search for the quickest path to success. This can enable high levels of productivity, but when dealing with broken or inefficient processes, the quickest route to success can lead to shortcuts, workarounds, and breaking rules to make our work easier.

Completing work via the ‘easiest’ route is how Shadow IT can become ingrained in organizations. When employees take shortcuts or install and use unsanctioned devices because it’s the ‘easy’ option, the consequences for the business can be severe.

In this post, we look at how broken and inefficient processes can lead to an increase in Shadow IT, and how you can fix them.

The Real Reason Behind Shadow IT

Shadow IT is the label for any hardware or software used within an organization that is not supported by the business’ central IT department.

This can introduce security and compliance risks when unsupported software isn’t subject to the same security measures as supported software. But the risks to security are not enough to stop Shadow IT from being used in U.S. enterprises. Our America’s Most Broken Processes study found that 40 percent of respondents have used unsanctioned devices or apps as a direct result of unresolved IT issues with software supported by the business.

Shadow IT can largely be attributed to broken and inefficient processes. Sixty-two percent of respondents observe broken IT processes within their organization, with the top three most broken being:

  • Technology troubleshooting (59%)
  • Equipment onboarding for new hires (43%)
  • Requesting a new computer or other technology device (42%)

A trend can be found in these broken processes: They each involve requesting assistance from IT. When it takes too long for users to receive new equipment or software, or their request goes completely unnoticed, this is when they will turn to Shadow IT.

Which begs the question: Why are IT service requests prone to inefficient processes?

Inefficient Processes: IT Service Requests

An IT service request is any request for something new to be provided to a user—most commonly information, help and advice, or access to a service. A user may contact the IT service desk to install a new software program or grant them access to an online portal, for example.

Unlike IT ‘incidents’, which are unplanned interruptions or quality reductions to IT services, service requests can be planned. That means the process for fulfilling service requests can be broken down into structured steps to follow and actions to take, often categorized by statuses: open, assigned, in-progress, pending, complete, and closed.

Slow (or non-existent) request fulfillment often comes down to inefficient processes during one or more of these stages.

While there can be delays in assigning the request to the right member of staff, inefficiencies are most common in the ‘pending’ stage – where waiting on approvals and reviews from numerous team members leave requests stuck in limbo. This increases the likelihood of bottlenecks and breakpoints, which has a domino effect.

Facing a delay in their request, workers will take matters into their own hands and use Shadow IT to solve their immediate issue, which places a major risk to IT security and integrity. This causes a vicious cycle wherein a worker fails to notify IT that they’ve turned to Shadow IT, and the support team continues to work on the case, leading to:

  1.   Security concerns around unauthorized software in the organization
  2.   Lost time and resources for the IT employees working on the service request
  3.   The spread of Shadow IT practices across the company

Automating Inefficient Processes

The right technology can help eliminate broken and inefficient processes – but change doesn’t come overnight. These processes are usually deeply embedded in company culture, making them difficult to fix. To relieve the issue, businesses should look to automate, orchestrate, and optimize their workflows, which can help streamline the gathering and fulfillment of service requests to speed up request fulfillment and decrease the use of Shadow IT.

Having set standards in place, certain tasks can be automated and the turnaround time for requests will decrease. This benefits the IT department, as well, because they can then focus on tasks that require more attention.

Nintex makes automating sophisticated workflows simple—a drag-and-drop interface turns an otherwise technical task into a visual one, meaning any member of the business can build IT-approved automated workflows to remedy broken processes and make their everyday work more efficient.

By giving your employees the ability to improve their processes, you can help reduce the extent of Shadow IT in your organization.


Find out more in our study: The Definitive Guide to America’s Most Broken Processes. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for more information on our research findings and the benefits of intelligent process automation software.



Patrick Nguyen

Pat Nguyen is a Senior Business Analyst at Nintex. In his role, he leverages the Nintex Platform to build custom workflow solutions that solve business challenges. In his spare time, Pat enjoys exploring Seattle on his longboard. He’s a University of Notre Dame alum and a Fighting Irish fan.

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