SUPPORTING EMPLOYEE-INTRODUCED APPS: 4 STEPS TO CONSIDER

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Employees don’t want to work at a company where the first word out of the IT guy or gal’s mouth is always “No.”  And, correspondingly, there’s not a single IT person in the world who wants to be the “yes man” (or woman)–  the three-letter word that causes IT policies to be thrown out the window.

Today, you’d expect a lot more No’s than Yes’ as the BYOA (bring-your-own app) trend continues. It’s especially true when you consider  70 percent of IT professionals believe the use of unauthorized programs resulted in half of their companies’ data loss incidents.

Before you go one way or another–  yes or no – to employee requests for app support, be proactive with your strategy and consider taking these steps:

1. Survey:  Using a free tool like surveymonkey.com, ask your employees what apps they’re using at work and at home to stay productive.  Knowing is half the battle. As long as their answers are kept anonymous, they’re likely to be honest with you.

2. Discuss:  Once you know the top apps being used, find out why. Be prepared: it may be your fault. Are they adopting cloud storage solutions because you’ve failed to provision a mobile VPN? Could be. Sit down and talk with your employees to figure out what’s caused them to go rogue.

3. Learn: Maybe that collaboration app your marketing team is using isn’t the worst thing to happen to your company’s data security. Heck, it could be protecting you. Get on the web, read the documentation and learn about the apps.

4. Make a plan: There’s no silver bullet to making a strategic IT decision about employee desires and requests, but remember: there’s a balance. Create a Plus/Minus/Interesting or “PMI” chart (invented by Edward DeBono). In the “Interesting” column write down anything that may not be obviously positive or negative, but could lead you to some new territory. At the end, you may have your answer.

The use of the collaboration app I discovered being used in Marketing last week…

Plus Minus Interesting
Employees happy (+4) Can’t manage it (-2) Positions me as an early-adopter (+4)
Increases productivity (+3) Doesn’t integrate with AD (-3)  CEO is on our Advisory Board (+3)
Encrypts files not usually encrypted  (+5) Requires company-wide training (-1)
May increase bandwidth usage (-2)
+12
-8
+7

When all is said it done, it’s IT’s choice and no one else’s. So, who do you want to be? The “yes (wo)man” or the “no (wo)man”?  What’s your approach for getting there?

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