Rogue IT

SharePoint - Rogue or an Enabled IT?

Over the course of my involvement with IT, I’ve heard too many references to “Rogue IT” without a clarification as to exactly what is meant. Too often it is uttered as a no-no, to control and rein in what could legitimately be considered an Enabled IT.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, all the meanings, inferences, and connotations associated with the word rogue are negative. One of its adjective meanings is “acting independently and using unorthodox methods that are unpredictable and are likely to cause trouble”.

[1]While there is much noise about Rogue IT, usually from IT, an IT project apart/separate from business need is in itself, Rogue!

The Five-part Carbonless Multicolored Purchase Requisition Form

A couple of years ago, decades really, fresh out of university, I started working for a local government agency as an Administrative Clerk. Among some of my clerical duties was to type up Requests for Quotes, award bids, and submit a requisition to purchasing. The form had to be typed on a typewriter which involved futile attempts at aligning the spaces and lines. I never understood why the form designers did not space the rows so that when you hit the carriage return once or twice it was still aligned!

Well, in my youthful exuberance or youthful impatience, I devised all sorts of schemes to get this done quickly and correctly without much success. This led me to question the 5-part carbonless multicolored form itself.

I asked my coworker, from whom I was inheriting my work, about the form and got the usual government response, “it has always been that way”.

“Does it really have to be that way? “ I asked.

“Yes, Purchasing requires [3] copies, we file the [other two] copies.

This was just too dumb for my liking (youthful arrogance) so I set off on a mission. I already knew what happened to the two copies we kept - nothing. Now I will find out from Purchasing what they do with their copies and what exactly is the significance of the colors.

To make a long story short, I replicated the Purchase Requisition form in Lotus 1-2-3, with macros and formulas. Before long the Purchasing department was referring other departments to me for copies of the spreadsheet.

My attempt at improving how I work spilled out beyond self and positively impacted how other departments did their work. I performed my own requirements gathering exercise. I wrote and tested my own code and put the spreadsheet into “production”, all without the IT department. Was that rogue? According to the noise I hear regarding Rogue IT, the noise makers would probably shout yes! I beg to differ.

Attempt at Differentiation

I am attempting to highlight some differentiating factors below:

Help me expand this list!

Rogue IT Enabled IT
Department purchases its own servers outside of any predefined process and standards Departments managing its own content
Department manages its own servers at an employee’s desk, office closet or corner, or outsourced and hosted Departments developing processes for efficiency and improving its functions
Department purchases and installs its own software and/or contracts its own consultants to do the same Employees extending productivity tools to automate their work, e.g. an excel workbook with macros, is an advance use within the parameters of an existing tool
Department develops, implements, maintains and manages its own software and/or contracts for same Transparency. IT is informed and aware.
Employee installs his/her own applications  
System Projects involving hardware, software, and/or networks  
Central IT has no oversight and/or knowledge  
[1]Central IT apart from business need  
IT staff making unauthorized changes, holding the business hostage