The way in which employees interact with their companies' IT solutions is changing at a rapid pace. Traditional ways of working that use a server/client relationship, with the user's end device being little more than a conduit to connect to applications, are often no longer suitable for today's more mobile workforce, who have access to more powerful devices than ever.
As such, many more firms are embracing end user computing (EUC) and shifting their workloads from closely-controlled central applications to end devices. While some forms of EUC, such as the use of Excel spreadsheets, have been around for many years, there are now a wide range of ECU solutions in use that businesses will need to consider.
Embracing EUC brings a range of benefits, offering users more freedom and flexibility in how and where they work. But it also brings with it a number of threats, especially the risk of compliance violations and the potential for errors.
Therefore, it's vital that any EUC operation follows a clear strategy. Here are a few key steps that will be essential in creating a strong EUC roadmap:
1. Set out who is responsible for what areas
Unmanaged and uncontrolled EUCs can be a major source of problems for business, so it’s essential to spell out exactly who will be taking responsibility for these processes, what their roles involve, and what requirements will remain with end users. Within the IT team, there should be an EUC engineer architect and service manager to oversee the strategy, an application installation and packaging lead to perform functionality testing with end users, and a support specialist to help resolve user issues.
2. Centralize your applications
A lack of visibility is a key issue for many businesses when it comes to EUC, so retaking control of where applications are hosted is an essential part of any strategy. This can be achieved by bringing back EUC tools into a single, centralized location where everyone can access them regardless of their device or location. This approach not only improves the efficiency of these tools, but also enables IT departments to easily monitor and measure their performance.
3. Understand your user profiles
EUC tools can come in many different forms, from finance teams collating key data in a spreadsheet to work out projections, to remote workers looking to make life easier when they're accessing applications from a mobile device. Therefore, it's important to have a clear idea of who in your organization is using EUC, what tools they're deploying and what data is involved. Knowing what apps employees are using and how they are engaging with them is key in ensuring your strategy is relevant.
4. Have a clear data management policy
There are a range of issues related to how EUCs use and interact with data that could create problems if businesses don't have a clear strategy in place for managing these tools. For instance, any errors in data entry or scripting could result in EUC tools delivering inaccurate output. To tackle this, it's important to have a clear framework for auditing and monitoring EUC applications to ensure the calculations they make are of a high standard. How data is used should also be spelled out clearly, including the steps for cleaning, reviewing and integrating it into other systems.
5. Don't overlook user training
People are often the weakest link in any IT system, and EUC - where they will often be acting with little or no oversight from the IT department - is no exception. Indeed, the more control and options users have available to them, the more challenging it becomes for IT departments to support a growing range of applications. Therefore, any EUC strategy must include a section detailing exactly how policies are to be communicated to users and what initial and ongoing training sessions will be required to ensure policies are being stuck to.
6. Keep security at the forefront
As mentioned above, data is one of the most valuable assets any business possesses today, so strong security solutions will be essential if EUC initiatives are to be successful, and there are many potential pitfalls in this area that must be avoided. For instance, firms could be at risk of breaching data protection regulations if they don’t put strong access controls in place that can prevent unauthorized users to view or alter the data. All activities also need to be adequately logged and monitored, both for audit purposes and so companies can quickly see if applications have been accessed by someone other than approved personnel.