School districts these days are facing serious challenges that require balancing increased technology demands and a suprisingly tech savvy user base, with reduced budgets and staff cuts. Recently though, I was approached by a school district that has decided a new user provisioning process could help them address these issues.
Their current situation:
- 12,000+ students/staff with network accounts
- PowerSchool Student Information Sytsem
- Google Apps for students, Exchange 2007 for staff
- 9 IT Staff (3 admins)
- Scripts create Active Directory from provided data file, run usually at beginning an end of semesters
- Sysadmin who wrote the scripts left district two years ago
- User accounts also created in about 6 other systems including library, e-learning, etc.
This scenario is not at all uncommon, but what amazed was the amount time this district spent each year managing user accounts. The scripts really were only run about once a year but still involved manual updating due to a new naming convention that was implemented. Because, no one could figure out the process the previous admin had scripted, so hours upon hours were spent making these updates. Updating and removing users from the system, again, was a manual process and often neglected. Active accounts remained on the network for past users and most updates were never made until someone was calling IT, unable to work. Needless to say, this process created a lot wasted time and resources and also opened up the door to some serious access issues.
This district thought, and I agreed that a more automated approach to user management would really help them free up this time and close some current security holes. With a school district, implementing an automated system, via a connector to PowerSchool for example, doesn't have to be difficult if proper planning and data is available. Tools4ever's User Management Resource Administrator really makes this planning and data synchronization a much more manageable process.
The solution proposed was the UMRA suite, and outlines a two-step phased approach as follows:
Phase 1: creating a link with the PowerSchool system and Google Apps
- Information on new student/employee, transfers and graduations/departures can be retrieved from their current status in PowerSchool, then compared with Active Directory and Google Apps
- Accounts created or updated as required multiple times a day, with any changes to information or status updates performed consistently and timely. Notifications and information can be sent to IT, end users, or any other appropriate party
- Phased departures; user accounts are disabled on the last day of service. The account with resources will be deleted after x number of days.
Phase 2: linking third-party applications
- Phased creation of automatic links with each application and provisioning process as appropriate depending on user role and system
- The application manager is notified via e-mail of any changes
To learn more about how a phased UMRA solution can benefit your organization, visit our website: www.tools4ever.com