IT department

By Dean Wiech

Many of today’s technologies were once available to only the largest and wealthiest multi-national organizations. However, over time, as more vendors entered the market offering competing products and driving the prices down, these technologies are now accessible to small and medium businesses alike. Access governance and password management are no exception to this rule. Once only utilized by large organizations where security was paramount and cost was no obstacle, small businesses can now afford to implement these solutions sooner rather than later.

Let us look at three small businesses that were experiencing difficulties in their organizations centered around access and password management and how today’s technologies quickly and inexpensively resolved their issues.

The first organization is a healthcare consulting firm in Maryland. With about 125 employees and a small IT staff, creating network and Office 365 accounts was a menial chore, but not the biggest headache its IT department faced. The firm also needed to create accounts for its customers in the network and also provision them in the firewall and FTP application providing a whitelist of IP addresses so files could securely be transferred.

By implementing a web-based portal for access management, the human resource department could use one set up form to easily create, update and disable employee accounts. Another set of forms was deployed to allow consultants in the field to enter customer details and the IP addresses to be whitelisted. The employee accounts are managed automatically in the network and Office365 without human intervention while the customer forms are first reviewed by IT staff and, once approved, automatically committed into the network and requisite applications. The result was a decrease in the time spent managing employee and a dramatic increase in the timeliness and accuracy of customer accounts.

The next organization featured in this case is a small provider of assisted hearing devices located in Canada. It was during a time of period of high growth and that led to the need to quickly add employees at more than a dozen storefronts located across the country. The processes was a bit clunky: A local branch manager submitted a new hire email for candidate to the human resources department, which would then create the employee profile in HR then pass the information along to the IT group for network provisioning. Because of the growth and backlog of other projects there could easily be a two- or three-day delay from the receipt of the information to the network account creation. The IT staff was also overwhelmed with calls from employees who had forgotten their password or become locked out of the network.

By deploying two, easy-to-use solutions, the company was able to reduce waiting times for accounts to virtually zero and provide end users with a password reset and account unlock via self-service. The first solution involved a web portal that managers access when they have a new hire or termination. In lieu of sending the email to HR, they complete an online form that requires the same information. Once submitted, it automatically generates the email to HR and provisions the user in the network and connected systems, without the need for IT intervention. The self-service tool requires new employees to enroll when they first login to the network and provide answers to challenge questions of their choosing. If they forget a password or become locked out of the network, they simply click a link on the Windows login screen, answer their questions, enter a new password and they are ready to go. This solution also resolved the problem of employees who may work until 9 p.m. and on weekends, when the helpdesk is not staffed.

The third company I’d like to feature is a small regional bank in south Florida. It has three locations and about 65 employees. With no on staff IT personnel, the bank relies on a consulting firm for their network and user management tasks. As with any organization, employees occasionally forgot their password and needed to call the consulting firm to have it reset. This resulted in a loss of productivity for the employee as they waited for the reset to actually happen and the bank was billed a flat fee for every password reset that was processed.

The consulting firm actually approached the bank with the idea of the self-service password rest solution. They could purchase the software for a one-time cost and eliminate the need for employees to call in going forward. The bank piloted to solution for a 30-day period and the adoption rate and usage eliminated 95 percent of the calls. The result was the solution paying for itself in about four months, not to mention employee productivity gains.

The end result of these small businesses implementing access and password management solutions are all similar: they saved time, money and provided an increased level of service and security to their employees and customers alike.

Dean Wiech is managing director of Tools4ever — @dwiech, @tools4ever