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Workflow Simplified: Automating Access Management

Many organizations believe that implementing a workflow management solution will be rather difficult, time consuming and costly, which is why they continue utilizing the same manual procedures that have been in place for years. What they might not understand is that continuing to perform tasks manually may actually be costlier for them in terms of time and money. Many of these presumptions about workflow are actually common misconceptions.

Think of the process an employee needs to go through to in order to request for additional access or other changes in their network account. They need to send an email to their manager to ask for permission for a change, which then often needs to be passed along to yet another manager for validation. The request is finally sent to the IT department which then implements the requested account changes. Though this process works, it has many negative features. The process may take a few days to get to the correct person who makes the actual change and the employee is left waiting in limbo while wasting time by repeatedly trying to follow up on the status.

There also has to be someone in the organization in IT who is in charge of making the appropriate account or access change. Though, not a very difficult task, it is extremely time consuming, especially if they receive many requests throughout the day.

What exactly is workflow management and how does it work? Workflow is a controlled, automated process with a defined sequence of tasks that can replace an otherwise manual process performed by people. This allows for a streamlined process for employee requests and their implementation.

Using a web portal, employees can request access to applications, name changes, mailboxes, distribution lists, as well as anything else that can be possibly requested for. A workflow is set up so that when a user requests a change, the request then goes through a predefined sequence of people who need to approve it before the change is implemented. The organization can set up the workflow process however they want, so that depending on the user and what they request, the process goes through a specific order. There is also no need for the employee to bother their manager to check on the request. They can easily access the web portal and see exactly where the request is and what steps still need to be completed.

Though it sounds like an easy decision to make to implement a workflow management solution, many companies have certain misconceptions that hold them back from using it in their organizations. What are these misconceptions?

Workflow solutions cost too much money

One of the greatest concerns in the minds of the management is that this type of solution and implementation is going to cost the organization a large sum of money. A workflow solution once fully operational will actually save the company a great deal of money. Less staff is needed to focus on these access and account management changes and employees can focus their time on more technical issues.

It can also be easily used to implement necessary security controls. There is an audit trail for every request and change that was made through the workflow. It can record details of the applicant, the request made, time of approval and the approval issuer. This makes it easy for managers to easily generate a report of who has access to what and make changes if needed. Additionally, it ensures that any issue can be easily detected and corrected, such as in the case of access rights.

Workflow will take years to be implemented

Another concern is that workflow management is going to be very difficult to set up and will take a long time to be up and running. With the correct vendor, this process should only take a few weeks. Organizations can work closely with the vendor to easily set up the workflow according to the company’s policies. The process can also be set up to work with a certain group or department as a pilot and then be slowly rolled out to other departments in the organization. This allows the company to first focus on the mission critical areas and move to other departments as needed.

Hopefully, organizations will realize that these preconceptions are misconceptions and that workflow management has great benefits for the organization. These benefits can help employees to be more efficient, save time and, most of all, save the company a lot of money.