What is EUC?
There are a few varying definitions of End-User Computing or EUC for short. In general, it refers to systems that enable non-IT professionals (who do not have computer programming knowledge) to create working computer applications. EUC tools are often created out of necessity and by definition are extremely useful and often save time for the end-user.
You will have most likely encountered EUC in the form of a spreadsheet, the one that you open, enter a few pieces of data, press a button and some magic happens (usually a series of macros) that result in for example, a report being produced, or an email being sent. These types of applications are usually created by someone within your department who is a bit more “Excel savvy”.
Is there a problem with EUC?
These types of applications can serve as a great proof of concept or prototype. However, problems can arise when these applications are adopted into a business and the process is then used on a regular basis and is depended on.
These types of applications are typically not regulated, controlled or managed by your IT department and this can result in problems such as:
- Inaccurate results due to untested or unidentified errors
- Regulatory, compliance or policy violations
- Data redundancy and lack of version control
- Lack of backups and recovery procedures
- Poor, if any change management
- Compatibility issues
- Data protection / GDPR breaches
- Increased risks of fraudulent activity
- Little or no audit trail
- Lack of ownership (who maintains this EUC? What happens if they leave?)
- No oversight – What EUC does the business have? Where are they all? What do they all do?
What can be done to limit the impact?
Many companies today will have an EUC policy in some form or other. This helps in providing guidance towards the creation and use of EUC, but as with many policies it is hard to enforce.
EUC management programme
Companies try to catalogue and control the use of EUC by providing some form of central control or registration. This is especially true for those that maintain certain accreditations such as ISO.
Professional software development
The best choice when it comes to managing EUC is to evaluate the reason for their existence, then incorporate that functionality into professionally developed software that is managed by either your IT department or a trusted third-party software company.
Here at TSG we are often asked to help businesses validate and solve problems involving EUC, below is an example a typical scenario and how we provided a solution.
The business had an existing process where they collected client information during a number of ‘client-facing’ one-to-one meetings, which they then used to prepare a business proposal. The process was inefficient, lacked validation, included double-entry and was labour intensive.
The information was collected using one of the existing physical forms and then the data was entered into a spreadsheet. The form would also be scanned and filed electronically. Once all data was entered it would be processed by running several macros. These would create several Word documents that would then be saved manually into a folder and sent to the client via email ….. This system presented many challenges including duplication of work, lack of data validation, overall processing time and a general lack of governance.
TSG reviewed the underlying process, created a requirements document that was then agreed by the business. TSG then developed a web-based application that allowed staff to complete the initial data gathering online. This data would then automatically be sent to the backend systems where it would be processed. The business was also provided with a “wizard” style editor to help create the business proposals with most of the work being done automatically using the data, logic and the company’s business rules. The end proposal could then be sent directly to the client and a full audit-trail and workflow log being retained for future reference.
EUC can be found everywhere and in many cases they are harmless, however, organisations need to be aware that having too many or having overly complicated EUC can put you or your business at risk. Whenever you encounter EUC you should consider whether it is necessary, and if it is something the IT department can be responsible for? Is this something that can be incorporated into a larger development programme to eventually be replaced with a trusted professionally developed solution?
If you’ve read this article and thought that you might be at risk with your business using EUC, come and talk to us. We can help your business with managing EUC and provide you with a long-term professional trusted solution.