The pandemic turned the world on its head — and suddenly, we’ve found ourselves in the mid-2020s, desperately grappling with the shift in occupational culture that has been thrust upon us. So far, this decade has been characterised by increased employee autonomy. Staff are finding work-life balance with the rise of remote working, bring-your-own-device policies, and even four-day working weeks — but could this newfound freedom be taxing your IT budget?
Enter maverick spending.
Maverick or ‘rogue’ spending refers to any organisational purchasing that takes place outside of established company procurement channels. In the context of IT, software management firm Vertice explains that maverick spending refers to “the acquisition of cloud-based software solutions that are purchased unbeknownst to the finance, IT or procurement teams”. As a result, these tools “may not be approved, vetted, or appropriately documented” by the organisation.
This can be costly — resulting in gaps in security, blindspots for data compliance, and productivity siloes when team members start to leverage their own solutions rather than those that have been officially procured. So, what can you do about it?
Here are three vital steps you can take to stop IT maverick spending in its tracks and get back to cost savings.
To tackle maverick spending, the first and perhaps most critical step is to enforce robust internal approval processes. Maverick spending often occurs when employees make software purchases without consulting the appropriate stakeholders — be this by circumventing the relevant head of department, IT, or procurement team responsible for new software purchasing within your organisation.
By establishing clear and standardised procedures for procurement, you can ensure that all IT-related acquisitions go through a structured approval process. This process should involve IT, finance, and procurement teams to evaluate the necessity, compatibility, and cost-effectiveness of the proposed solutions.
This not only minimises the likelihood of unauthorised purchases, but also helps in aligning IT investments with the overall business strategy. What’s more, having a documented approval process provides transparency and a clear audit trail for all IT expenditures — which is becoming all the more important as IT spending slows and budgets are stretched further than ever before.
Maverick spending often stems from a lack of awareness and understanding of the organisation’s existing IT infrastructure and procurement policies. To combat this, it’s essential to invest in staff training and education.
Comprehensive IT training programmes hold the power to educate employees about available IT resources, software licences, and procurement guidelines — as well as the dangers of procuring IT solutions independently. Cybersecurity platform Crowdstrike explains that the use of unauthorised systems for work purposes, otherwise known as shadow IT, bears the following risks for businesses:
- Lost control over IT systems
- Potential for data loss
- Attack surface expansion
- System inefficiencies
- Unnecessary costs
Your internal education initiatives should target both the technical and financial implications of maverick spending. When employees are well-informed about the IT resources already available, as well as the potential consequences of rogue purchases, they are more likely to make informed decisions and seek approval before acquiring tools.
One final step in curbing maverick spending is to foster a culture of responsibility within your organisation. As discussed, the workplace has experienced a seismic shift in recent years, taking on an increasingly digital, increasingly autonomous dynamic. To make this transition as smooth as can be, you’ll need to instil a sense of ownership and accountability among employees regarding their IT expenditures.
Encourage employees to view IT resources as shared assets and to report any potential maverick spending instances they come across. After all, “the two most common causes of maverick spend are poor company spending culture and inefficient technology”, according to purchasing platform Order.co.
So, by recognising and rewarding responsible spending behaviours, you can create a culture where employees feel responsible for the organisation’s security and financial wellbeing, with a view to reducing maverick spending. Additionally, involving employees in the decision-making process and seeking their input can lead to better solutions and a greater sense of shared purpose.
There are no two ways about it — addressing maverick spending in IT requires some effort. But by enforcing internal approval processes, educating staff, and shifting your organisation’s spending culture, you can make strides to prevent unauthorised IT spending and promote a more cost-effective technology stack.
Digital tools are there to be used — but only when they’re safely and correctly deployed will they provide your business the all-important competitive advantage it needs to thrive.