IT Time Suck No More: Organizational Efficiency Through Automation and Improved Access

0515DoswellArtWe’re at a stage where our technology and IT leaders are inundated with the number of solutions they have available to them to allow users the ability to perform their jobs at the greatest level of efficiency and the fewest headaches. However, manual processes likely remain one of the biggest problems they face, where many, if not most, of the organization’s processes can now be automated.

Automated workflows make many mundane tasks easier for employees to manage and complete; perhaps easier than we’ve experienced in past generations, and we’re beginning to see a number of automations and workflow improvements to many areas unseen in the past. There are several steps leaders can take regarding access management, ensuring employees are able to enter their systems in a timely manner and perform their tasks for clients. In most cases, these steps are easily automated, relieving many current bottlenecks, like lockouts and IT time sucks.

System security improvements a must — Companies often require users to remember several different, varying and complex passwords, which also need to be changed regularly, according to company guidelines. To remember these passwords, users often write them down, store them somewhere and refer to them later, making the applications and systems unsecure. For example, at one major automotive dealership employees in every position throughout the company needed to log in to several different applications to perform their jobs. Each employee needed to remember login credentials for nine or more applications, which frustrated employees. By implementing a single sign-on solution, employees no longer needed to remember their plethora of varying credentials; they simply log in once and thereafter the single sign-on system takes over the login process and initiates an automatic login to all the applications and systems to which the end user is authorized.

Reducing help desk ticket time — IT departments often are inundated with calls from users requesting help with issues that are simple, but time-consuming. This takes time away from other more technical projects that the IT department employees should be focusing on. One of these tasks is account management. Though this process is time-consuming, it is not difficult, which makes it easy for less technical or inexperienced employees to handle. At one organization I recently worked with, user accounts for employees needed to be created and controls put in place by the IT department. By automating the account management system, the human resources department now has controlled access through a web-based form to create an account that allows the company to easily enter the employee’s information, define their profiles and which systems they need access to. Since HR now handles all account management tasks, the IT department saves substantial time for other issues.

Reducing user pollution and updating systems – It’s no secret that it is difficult to keep user accounts up to date and accurate for end users. Often performed manually, these tasks consume a large amount of time for IT employees. This is because of the fact that information has to be entered manually, which can also lead to errors. Information in the differing IT systems often can lead to inaccuracy because the information is usually only changed when someone notices a difference and makes the appropriate modifications. To alleviate these issues, an automated account management solution can be implemented to synchronize HR systems with Active Directory, each evening, in turn populating other internal systems like SharePoint, help desk software and the Exchange Global Address List. With changes made each night, employee information is now always current and up to date.

Better the user experience – Employees must have easy and quick access to the applications and systems required of their role for them to do their jobs. In most cases, these disparate systems have different credentials and varying deadlines for when these credentials must be changed or updated. Of course, it’s time-consuming and frustrating for employees to manage these because there are so many credentials to remember. The staffs at several Volvo dealerships in Europe recently faced this very issue, but leaned on a single-sign-on solution to corral 35 of its applications so staff could stop wasting time logging into each application that needed to be accessed. The result is that users only need to log in once now with the single credential and then are automatically provided with access to all applications and resources on their networks, without the need for repeated logins. This action alone has drastically reduced the number of calls to the dealer’s help desk, and has improved employee satisfaction.

Delegation — Account management is a time suck for IT employees. Though these tasks can be handed off to lesser experienced employees within an organization, this can cause problems of their own. Automating account management and delegation means HR employees can make minor changes to profiles, but not having elevated rights in the domain means the systems remain secure. This is done through several digital forms that allow HR employees to easily enter only the requested information to reduce error and ensure security.

Employee productivity – Granting employees access to information when they first begin employment and avoiding the wait of several days to access all the applications needed is vital, but these delays happen a lot. Let’s walk through the process. The IT department is usually notified by HR when there is a new employee that needs access to various systems at the organization. They then contact the employee’s manager to verify all information is correct and manually create accounts in each system. If the employee moves to a different department, or their information changes, such as their last name, the IT department will have to manually change this information in each of the systems. Automating account management means a company’s HR department can implement web-based forms to create accounts, which allow HR and others to easily enter the employee’s information, define their profiles and indicate which systems they need access to, drastically reducing the time required to create accounts. Employees then are able to access their systems from day one.

Yes, improve customer service — Getting locked out of systems that are used to help customers is not a productive position for businesses to find themselves. If an employee is locked out of an application and needs to reset a password, the help desk must be contacted, which takes time and is frustrating for both the customer and the employee. Community Bank and Trust of Florida dealt with this issue. The bank’s problem occurred when employees needed to reset their passwords on Saturdays, specifically, and IT staff was not working. With a self-service password reset solution, bank employees now easily reset their own passwords without help from IT staff. If there’s a lock out, employees reset and move onto a customer’s need without missing a beat.

Solutions can be implemented to increase efficiency and employee satisfaction, with very minimal investment. Business and IT leaders need only evaluate which will be the most effective, returning the most for the investment based on their particular situation.

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Workflow.

Robert Doswell is managing director of Tools4ever UK. Visit for more information.