Information Systems: Managing user controlled computing

User Controlled Computing must be managed by setting standards and building a strategy.  These must include an outline of responsibilities of both information systems personnel and users, and it should outline certain control practices to be followed by all users who perform their own data processing and system development tasks.


End-user training is a key issue in the management of U-CC .  There is little argument about the significance of training and knowledge, but the nature of that training is open to debate. Some authors advocate an IS specialist-oriented view which focuses on training in the technology, methods and standards, while others advocate  user-orientated training.

User-oriented U-CC training should focus on identifying problems and solutions and evaluating potential IS tools. Training should focus on making end-users better at their tasks through the effective use of information applications, and not to turn an end-user into an IT professional.

The crux of managing U-CC effectively, lies in finding the balance between freedom and anarchy, and can be achieved by taking these two factors into consideration:

  • The rate of expansion of U-CC activities - The rate of expansion can be managed by making information easier or harder to get; hardware and software easier or harder to get; more or less support available; or altering the costs borne by the user community. 
  • The level of control over U-CC activities - Whereas the level of control can be managed by determining the extent of the restrictions on free selection of hardware and software products and the restrictions on free access to data.


The essential issue is one of balancing freedom to innovate against counter-productive anarchy.  If user-controlled computing is mismanaged into anarchy, it may create individual information kingdoms that are socially and technologically incompatible with both the individual kingdoms of others involved in U-CC and with the corporate IS (Information Systems) function.  If user controlled computing is mismanaged into rigidity, it may create an IS-stagnant organization that fails to take advantage of the potential to enhance every individual’s productivity.


A user-oriented view of U-CC focuses on the problems it solves, the user’s task and the organisational environment. Technology is provided unobtrusively as a background tool supporting the end-user in delivering business benefit. A good outcome from U-CC is defined in terms of the quality of the solution provided by the end-user and the extent to which it contributed to business goals.