Ways To Help Your IT Department Become More Productive

by Dean Wiech, MD, Tools4ever    Nov 23, 2015

Dean Wiech

Manual processes are difficult to deal with and IT employees often face a plethora of duties that require them to push buttons, which is extremely time consuming. These processes are prone to error, which extend the completion time for all tasks involved in the process. Let’s review some of the biggest culprits of time wasters in manual processes.

 Account provisioning

The provisioning of new accounts is often one of the biggest wasters of time in any environment. Account provisioning often takes days to complete (if it ever ends) so that new hires can access all systems and applications needed. At Lifestyle Hearing, for example, the IT department faced such a challenge. Requirements being what they were, the IT department needed to add employees to multiple systems, as well as place access controls, meaning up to five days were sometimes required to finalize the addition of one employee to the system and roles. Thus, by automating its account management processes, employees now are able to see their accounts created immediately so they can get to work on day one. Additionally, because of automation, the IT department no longer spends unnecessary time creating accounts, managing redundancies or correcting errors.

All systems are synchronized

Many schools and organizations need to synchronize multiple systems so that user data is accurate across all systems. Judson County School District’s IT department was dealing with this issue. The lack of automation in its complex network resulted in user errors and added a substantial amount of employee hours for maintenance tasks, such as adding and removing users, and creating file shares. By automating its account management, student information is now automatically synchronized between systems. When a new student account is entered into their student information system, the automation software detects it and automatically creates an account in the interconnected systems.

 No simple time-consuming tasks

Frequently, much of the IT department’s time is spent on simple tasks that are time consuming, such as password resets. These tasks do not require technical expertise, but often occupy much of an IT employee’s day. For example, at one hospital, South County Hospital, it helpdesk was averaging 20 to 25 password resets a month, each requiring about half an hour to complete. The arduous process included receiving the call, placing a work order, resetting the password then contacting the users, most of whom are busy clinicians. By implementing a self-service reset password application for its end users, the hospital drastically reduced time spent on password issues. Users no longer need to spend time contacting the helpdesk and waiting for a reply to their password reset request. They are now able to answer a series of security questions and quickly reset their own password. The helpdesk can now focus on more important issues rather than simple password resets and are much more productive.

Keep accounts up to date

Ensuring that all accounts are up to date with the correct information and security permissions is tedious and requires a lot of time. Often, many employees are left with active accounts when they no longer work at the company, because they were never disabled. This is prevalent in in large health systems and in industries where there is large turn over or seasonal support, like the retail sector. By automating account management processes, these organizations can ensure that their employee roles are always up to date. Thus, as employees are hired, their pertinent information is entered into the HR system. Conversely, as employees resign, a termination date is placed in the HR system. This easily ensures that employees who no longer work at the company do not have access to the company’s systems when they leave.

 Securely hand off less technical jobs to other departments

Many of the tasks that the IT department handles are issues that can easily be tackled by other, less technical employees in the company. IT staff is usually highly educated and should be focused on much more advanced tasks than account management. Examples of this include companies wanting to allow the helpdesk to perform account management tasks rather than the IT department, without receiving elevated rights to the network. An automated account management system with web forms can be set up to provide the ability for the helpdesk staff to make changes in Active Directory to specific attributes, such as name, location and manager for an employee without the need of access rights. This is done through several web forms which allow them to easily enter only the required information to reduce error. By automating the account management processes and allowing a different department to handle account changes, the IT department can focus on other, more advanced, tasks.

The good news is that there are solutions that make managing these time waste problems much easier and lead to a more productive IT department. The problem remains, however, that organizations must allow their IT departments the opportunity to take these steps to automation, and even autonomy, for the better of everyone involved.