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Almost every organization is beginning to move away from paper processes wherever possible. Everything is getting automated.
So why then are there certain processes that are still done manually?
Outdated manual processes only create more work and lead to the possibility of error. But some organizations and their leaders are so stuck in their ways that they don’t realize there is an easier, more efficient way to complete a task.
One process that remains overwhelmingly manual is account creation and management. It is incredibly archaic: individually enter name, identifier and credential. For example, when a new employee joins an organization, he fills out paperwork with all of his contact information. Then his manager sends this information over to HR, which then inputs the data into the computer employee management system.
Next, the employee’s manager has to contact IT to get accounts created for him for each system and application he needs to access to do his work. The new employee is waiting idle this whole time without the correct access he needs for his job.
This issue is made worse in a large organization where contacting someone in IT or HR can be difficult because they may be located in a different building, state or country than the actual new employee. As a result, new employees frequently have wrong information in their profiles or don’t have the exact access they need.
If you were to calculate how much time is spent on account management per year at a medium-sized organization, the total would be well more than a couple of hundred hours. This is why there is often a full-time position responsible for this task alone.
It’s a clumsy, error-ridden and time-consuming process.
So how can it be improved?
Automation of Account Management
One easy way to fix the manual process of creating accounts is automating the management process. Instead of having the manager of the new employee contacting IT and having an account set up for each application that the employee needs, they can easily do this in one easy step. An automated account management solution allows an organization to provision accounts from one place. Either HR or the hiring manager can enter all employee information into a web form and check off which applications the employee needs to access and the accounts can be automatically created after proper approvals are obtained electronically.
With this system, there is no need to go into each application and create accounts for the new employee manually.
Another common action that is often done manually is requesting additional access to systems. As an example, consider what happens when an employee changes job titles or needs additional access to an application for a project. This change often needs to be approved by a manager and then be granted by someone in IT, which often takes time to complete. An automated request form can be used to give the employee the ability to request access to a certain system or application. This request form is then routed to the correct managers who can then approve or reject the request.
Workflow processes can then determine the next person whose approval is required or send it to IT to create the account. Details of the applicant, the request itself, the time of approval and the approval issuer are all recorded in an audit trail. This allows the organization to automate the process and eliminate the “old fashioned” way of requesting access.
Why the Reluctance?
Although automated account management solutions can save organizations a great deal of time, headache and money, many are reluctant to switch from their current process. There are two major reasons for this reluctance. First, organizations are often so entrenched in their current process that they don’t want to change. Many organizations believe “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
They fail to realize that the process they are using is costing them many resources and could be done in a more efficient manner.
Second, they hear horror stories about how automation implementation can take months or even years to set up, or worse, never be fully completed. In reality, though, most identity and access management solutions, no matter the vendor, provide you the ability to choose which modules your organization needs to implement, customizable to your situation. This alone drastically reduces implementation time to days or weeks, rather than years.
Overall, automating the account management process can benefit the end user, manager and the IT helpdesk employees. Moving away from a dated, manual process of account management to an automated process saves the organization resources that it might not have been aware it was even losing, drastically increasing productivity in the process.
Dean Wiech is managing director of Tools4ever, a global provider of identity and access management solutions.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.