Guerrilla IT: How to stop worrying and learn to love your superusers

Your organization is filled with IT rogues and tech renegades. Here's how best to embrace them

Here's a sobering statistic: Eighty percent of enterprise IT functions are being duplicated by folks outside of the IT department, says Hank Marquis, director of ITSM (IT systems management) consulting at Enterprise Management Associates. In other words, for every 10 people doing IT work as part of their jobs, you've got another eight "shadow IT" staffers doing it on their own.

You probably know them. They're the ones who installed their own Wi-Fi network in the break room and distribute homemade number-crunching apps to their coworkers on e-mail. They're hacking their iPhones right now to work with your company's mail servers. In short, they're walking, talking IT governance nightmares.

But they could be your biggest assets, if you use them wisely.

[ Some firms are already allowing users to manage their own PCs -- anathema to many discussing the practice ]

The reason superusers go rogue is usually frustration, says Marquis. "It's a symptom of the IT organization being unable to meet or even understand the needs of its customers," he says. "Otherwise, it wouldn't be happening."

The solution? Put them to work.

"Most IT managers have too many requirements and not enough time or budget to get everything done and keep everyone happy," says Jeffrey Hammond, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "If your infrastructure is flexible enough, you can let superusers solve their own problems, take the heat off your developers, and provide some of your business needs."

Here are five tips for getting the most out of your superusers.

[ Tip No. 1: Leverage the knowledge -- without the noise ]

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