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Reducing Menial IT Tasks through Automation and Provisioning

By October 6, 2014Article

There are many identity and access management solutions out on the market that claim to have all sorts of magical benefits for the organizations they serve. If your firm is not having any major IAM issues, though, you may be wondering, “Does my organization really need any of these solutions?” 

The truth is that you may believe that your systems are secure, that you have given your employees all the tools to be efficient and that accounts are being provisioned effectively for your employees. But, if you take a closer look at these processes, you may see that there is much room for improvement.  

Although there might not be a major issue that needs to be solved, an IAM solution can save your organization significant time and money and easily help meet audit requirements. The following are just a few of the processes that can be drastically improved by an IAM solution. 

Efficiently provisioning accounts 

Accounts seem to be getting provisioned by your system admins in a timely manner, so why would you need any type of solution in place? If you begin to add up the time spent on this task, though, especially for large organizations, the process of provisioning accounts can be daunting and result in many errors. 

Often, new employees do not even have their network accounts correctly provisioned their first day of employment and have to wait several days to have their appropriate access set up. These are wasted dollars for your organization, as the employees wait unproductively. In addition, provisioning accounts is a menial task that takes up a considerable amount of time of advanced IT employees or even requires the organization to have a full-time employee just to perform this task. 

A case example of this was Lifestyle Hearing. The organization spent a great deal of time ensuring that employees had accounts properly created. Franco Butera, IT director, said, “This task took about half an hour for IT to complete, and that was only if we had all the correct information from the beginning. If not, we had to track down the employees in an attempt to get the information, and wait for a response that could take up to an hour or more.” 

The organization implemented an automated account management solution that allows human resources to have controlled access through a Web-based form. They can now easily create accounts by entering the employee’s information, defining their profiles and which systems they need to access. Lifestyle Hearing previously had a four- to five-day window for account creation, but using an account management solution, employees are now able to have their accounts created right away and start working the same day they are hired. 

Easily securing the network 

Your organization may have taken many precautions, and you believe that your network is safe as it can be. However, take a walk past your employees’ desks and see the Post-its they have scattered around with their credentials written on them, or do a little searching and find a paper with a list of their credentials in their desk drawer, often with detailed login instructions. This is not only an annoyance for your employees, but also a major security risk. 

This was the issue that Needham Bank was having. End users at the bank needed access to several different systems and applications to properly assist customers. “End users became frustrated at the number of disparate passwords they had, and the frequency they would have to enter the user names and passwords,” said James Gordon, first vice president of information technology at Needham Bank. The organization implemented a single sign-on solution that allows employees to log in with a single user name and password, and thereafter gain access to all systems and applications for which they have authorization, drastically reducing the login time. 

With a single set of credentials, employees no longer have to write down their passwords to remember them, which resulted in greatly improved security. 

Greater productivity — efficiently reset passwords 

You may not think much about when your employees need their password reset, but this is actually the single most common call that employees make to the help desk. Though this is an easy task to manage, it is time consuming for both the help desk and the end user. In addition, this is a major problem for employees who work outside the times of the help desk. If end users work nights, weekends or even in a different time zone and are locked out of their account and unable to contact the help desk to reset their password, this leaves them unable to access their applications or system until the help desk receives and processes the request, leaving them unproductive. 

National Geographic experienced this issue. Nat Geo’s employees need to access several cloud applications, including Google Apps, with different credentials for each to perform their jobs. This became an issue when employees had difficulty logging in because they forgot their passwords and were unable to contact the help desk as they are located in different time zones around the world, outside of the business hours of the help desk. 

With a self-service reset password solution employees simply answer predefined security questions and are able to reset their passwords, even in the middle of the night, without contacting the help desk. This allows them to quickly resolve their password issues and continue with their work. 

Overall, though your company might not be having a major IAM issue that needs quick attention, there are many IAM solutions that can greatly improve upon the processes that your organization has in place. No matter how big or small, or what industry your company is in, it is beneficial to at least take a look at how an IAM solution can help improve your organization.  

Dean Wiech is managing director of Tools4ever, a global provider of identity and access management solutions.