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What Is Tool Sprawl?

March 20, 2019

Tool sprawl refers to the unnecessary redundancy and associate spending, the misuse of systems, and the waste associated with buying new program systems, in addition to using (or not using) legacy systems. This can be the cause of pervasive organizational and behavioral issues, affecting data filing and creating divisions among IT departments. Tool sprawl creates inefficiency of spend, inability to meet customer and end-user requirements, silos of data, division among IT teams, longer repair times, and data bifurcation.

Do you have Tool Sprawl?

According to a Gartner report, one of the 10 most common monitoring challenges that CIOs have to deal with is tool sprawl. Tool sprawl can be a large problem; in fact, it might be one of the most pervasive in IT—throughout the world.

How pervasive is IT tool sprawl at my company?

Companies, however, often don’t realize they actually have a tool sprawl problem. Tool sprawl can be expensive to identify and fix, yet can cause many different problems, each which looks easily solved individually. What may look like individual smaller issues can be a much larger problem affecting the organization’s entire infrastructure.

Not knowing about tool sprawl, many CIOs treat each system individually. Like the human body showing multiple symptoms—an itch on one arm, a rash on the other arm, headache, fever, hip pain, etc. The first reaction is to treat each problem individually: Put ointment on one, take medication for the headache, get a cortisone shot for the hip. But what if there is actually one big problem, like an auto-immune condition, or the flu, or cancer, that’s causing all of those symptoms? The CIO would need to acknowledge the bigger issue to solve all the smaller ones.

But when each IT team protects its own IT tools, how does a CIO see the bigger issue?

Managing IT Tools and assessing the true value

At one company, the problem of IT tool management comes up in every single meeting. The CIO feels like he’s guessing at everything. With no empirical data to show the value of IT tools, a CIO doesn’t know which teams are “selling” their systems and which systems actually work. Teams say the new tool helps to update the system and plan to retire older IT tools. But is that completely true? If not, the company is wasting personnel, work hours, and spending. The CIO is ultimately responsible for all of that.

RedMonocle suggests assessing cost, coverage, and capacity – getting real-time feedback on spending, assets, system redundancies, and general empirical data on the state of infrastructure—hardware, software, tools, security, assets, storage, data integration—all of it.

This way, the CIO can rely on real-time, data-driven information, not anecdotal information from IT teams that are “selling” their systems.

When Gartner says a Top 10 issue is tool sprawl and you don’t know if it’s an issue for your company, trust us when we say: Tool sprawl is an issue.