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How to Automate User Provisioning Across Your SaaS Stack

Chris Payne

January 24, 2023

5 minute read

AutomateUserProvisioning

Imagine you’re about to log on for your first day of a brand-new, full-time remote job. You put a lot of effort into the application process and you’re excited to hit the ground running. Some preliminary set-up is expected, sure, but you’re hoping to contribute as soon as possible. 

Right away, you’re unable to access your new Slack account. After IT intervenes and gets Slack going, you log in and realize they got your job title wrong. You could follow up on that, but you realize you don’t even have clearance to the Slack chats your team uses, so you’re going to have to bug IT about that first. And you almost forgot—there’s a Zoom meeting in 45 minutes and no sign of a login and password for that, either. You realize each subsequent issue means another ticket to submit to IT, with your manager cc’d for approval on every last one. So much for hitting the ground running!

If a prized new hire’s first day goes something like this, they likely won’t be spreading word of how innovative and modern your company is. 

Unfortunately, a smooth onboarding cycle is getting harder and harder for IT departments to pull off. 

Other departments like HR and payroll have paperwork and new permissions to add to the process, and with more new hires working remotely, onboarding becomes increasingly confusing. The same goes for departing employees and employees moving within the company. 

The solution is a process called automated user provisioning. In this article, we’ll show you how it can help IT avoid these pitfalls and foster a happy, innovative workforce. 

What is user provisioning? 

User provisioning is the process of granting employees certain clearance levels and access to applications and data within a company. For example, it’s deciding who has admittance to a Slack chatroom for company managers, or permission to view files containing sensitive client information. 

User provisioning can also occur during an employee’s time with a company, such as when the employee is promoted or assigned to a different team. And finally, there’s de-provisioning; when an employee leaves your company, you’ll want to make sure their access and credentials have been revoked and passed along elsewhere, if necessary. 

Why user provisioning is so time-consuming in a SaaS-filled workplace

According to BetterCloud’s 2023 State of SaaSOps report, the average organization has 130 apps in its SaaS stack. That’s a lot of accounts for IT to create and manage users within. As remote workers join on across time zones, IT tickets can feel like they’re piling up around the clock. (All this in addition to the hoops you have to jump through when a new app is added to your SaaS environment).

For a company with over 200 employees, manual onboarding takes an average of six hours per new hire, and seven for manual offboarding of a departing worker. Which brings us to the much more appealing (and efficient) alternative…

Why it’s so important to automate user provisioning

Automated user provisioning provides and manages access to data, systems, and applications within a company through automated processes. Manual user provisioning is extremely time-consuming and can lead to costly human errors from overworked IT staffers, who’d be better utilized (and happier!) tackling more strategic projects within your company’s infrastructure. 

And think of our new worker example from the introduction—no one wants their IT department to be known for how long its new hires are always waiting around for their login credentials. Instead, new hires will be impressed with a modern, mistake-free welcome. 

For example, a BetterCloud onboarding workflow enables IT to create new accounts by pulling new employees’ details directly from Google or Azure AD. No more misspelled names or misplaced job titles.

Once you automate provisioning, your company’s gains will soar beyond eliminating problems. For instance, studies show that 69% of employees are more likely to remain with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. (Check out our deep dive on the correlation between automation and employee retention).

How to automate user provisioning in onboarding

To begin to automate provisioning for new hires, you must first select a SaaS management platform (SMP). Yes, alternatives to SMPs—such as iPaaS and IDaaS—may offer automation capabilities, but they are best suited to automating more basic tasks, like sending a Slack message when a Salesforce event occurs. SMPs, like BetterCloud, are by far the most user-friendly choice because they allow IT to automate complex workflows much more easily. Otherwise, your IT staff would need to build the workflow itself, likely wasting valuable time learning all that scripting. 

To provide the best onboarding experience, you can use your SMP to build a zero-touch workflow, which automates every manual task in the process. BetterCloud interprets metadata from the apps it’s connected to, so it can understand who manages who, or if an account for a certain user already exists inside an app. 

Implementing zero-touch onboarding with BetterCloud will lead to immediate gains in some of the most important apps in your SaaS stack. BetterCloud can automatically provision and deprovision user accounts in Slack and Zoom. Without IT having to make a move, BetterCloud can automatically provision accounts in Microsoft Forms and Zendesk.

All it takes is a manager’s approval and the automated process is set into motion! 

How to automate user provisioning for other use cases

User account provisioning is an important process your company will have to revisit well beyond the onboarding phase. For events during an employee’s tenure that necessitate new logins and clearances—such as a promotion or a transition to another team—zero-touch workflows again make the process succinct for IT. 

Same goes for mergers and acquisitions. These can be daunting (and costly) times for IT departments, when tech overlap and security gaps must be sorted out promptly and accurately. With BetterCloud, IT can quickly build automated workflows that do exactly that for M&A

Let’s say a larger company that uses Salesforce acquires a smaller company that uses Zendesk. Using BetterCloud, IT could quickly assemble an automated workflow that creates Salesforce accounts based off the existing Zendesk accounts, then deletes those Zendesk accounts to save costs. 

Automated provisioning processes are also invaluable when an employee leaves the company. A workflow that erases an outgoing staffer’s credentials at 5:00 pm on their last day and automatically transfers all necessary data and logins assures a smooth transition to a new employee and reduces the risk of security breaches during this transitory phase. 

Conclusion

An SMP like BetterCloud was purpose-built for automating user provisioning. With its 70+ out of the box integrations and the capability to easily create custom integrations, BetterCloud lets you provision—and deprovision—accounts quickly and easily. 

That’s not to say there’s no learning curve with BetterCloud. But with its user-friendly interface and “when-if-then” workflow logic, the learning curve is designed to be a smooth one. Unlike other platforms which require coding, BetterCloud’s no-code approach allows IT to create automated workflows within heavily used SaaS apps—Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Okta, Zoom, Slack, etc.—right away. To personalize those workflows, BetterCloud comes equipped with 1,000+ out of box actions. And since BetterCloud was designed to be flexible enough to extend to the thousands of SaaS apps on the market today, there’s no need for frequent, expensive updates as your SaaS stack evolves. 

BetterCloud is here to unlock the potential of your team—especially in an increasingly remote workplace. To see BetterCloud in action, schedule a demo today.

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