“We have a Confluence article that sums up the basic process for a new hire. It’s at least 60 manual steps long and requires 15-20 windows open at a time.”
So says Woody Grover, IT Manager at Ping Identity. In just a few years, this Denver-based technology company in the identity as a service (IDaaS) space has grown from a small startup to a midsize company with offices across the world. As more and more companies embrace workplaces powered by SaaS applications, it’s easy to see why Ping’s solution has grown rapidly. Among its capabilities is granting users secure access to a suite of applications with just a single authentication.
In fact, Ping has grown so quickly that Grover’s team managed a whirlwind pace of one new business hire per day in the first half of 2017.
As a result, his team of five has been stretched thin. Steep onboarding checklists translate to loads of manual work. “Optimally, I’d have a team of 20 IT employees. But that’s not what I have,” he says.
The Old Onboarding Process: One Team Member Spent Half His Time Creating New Accounts
Grover’s team uses Ping to auto-provision applications that are widely used by the company and can be turned on with the flip of a switch. One example is WebEx.
“The first time on your first day that you hit our PingOne portal, your WebEx account is provisioned automatically. We don’t have to touch that,” he says.
For Grover, these aren’t the applications adding tedious steps to his onboarding checklist and limiting his team’s efficiency. Rather, he estimates that per week, one of his team members spends half of their time simply making new accounts in their core applications like G Suite, Zendesk, Slack, Salesforce, and Atlassian.
Not only that, but a mistake as simple as a name misspelling in their HRIS creates a headache later in the process. For Grover, these basic “grunt work” actions that make up his lengthy onboarding checklist presented a huge opportunity for saving time and reducing user error.
“If we could get it knocked down to two steps or even 10 steps, and that IT employee only has to have three windows open at a time instead of 15 or 20, we’re seeing a huge return there,” he says. To do this, his team needed more granular control for their heavyweight applications that required more than just the flip of a switch.
Ping + BetterCloud = Complementary Solutions
As a result, Ping upgraded to BetterCloud Core to take advantage of the integrations with core SaaS apps—a move he called “a no-brainer.”
“BetterCloud builds on what Ping already does, providing a similar automated process for Google, Zendesk, and Atlassian apps. Ping doesn’t have auto-provisioning for those services, so BetterCloud interlocks with how our current Ping tools provision users,” he says.
Across G Suite, Slack, Salesforce, Zendesk and Atlassian, Grover hopes to not only cut down his onboarding checklist dramatically but eventually automate it completely.
“I predict that with BetterCloud, we’ll create an automated workflow for a sales exec, for example, that will place them in the right Slack channels and Google Groups that they need to be in.
“The pie in the sky dream is to have a workflow fire automatically when a new hire is created in our HRIS, and we don’t ever have to see that person until they show up in our office,” he says.
Using BetterCloud’s customized automation functionalities, Grover will be able to dramatically reduce the number of onboarding steps.
How BetterCloud Helps the Ping IT Team
What does the change from manual onboarding to “one-click” onboarding mean for Grover and his team? For one, better morale.
“You’re talking about the difference between doing grunt work and doing interesting work that made people want to get into IT. Those kinds of things are huge wins,” he says.
“Everyone’s happier. I can assign more useful work. And I actually get to do management work, like having high-level discussions about app workflows, which is a victory for me.”
Better achievement of success metrics
As Grover sees it, at the end of the quarter it’s not just the standard service desk and onboarding metrics that define his performance.
“What I really care about are metrics around project completion,” he says. “For example, we started talking about this project in Q3 of 2016; where are you on it now?
“We don’t have much time for project work. It won’t get better unless we make the onboarding process better.”
By freeing up resources, BetterCloud can help his team devote more time to these projects and allow them to be strategic business partners to the company.
Freeing up time to tackle the backlog
Grover cites the MacBook Air deployment process as a good example of automation. “When I first started, deploying a MacBook Air meant plugging in a USB drive and installing all the apps. Six years later, you open the box, put in a username and password, and it starts imaging itself,” he says. What used to take two hours now takes 20 minutes.
He’s looking forward to the same type of time savings and automation using BetterCloud for their onboarding process. “I couldn’t be more pumped about freeing up time across the whole team,” he says. Once they do that, Grover and team plan to tackle their backlog of projects that have piled up as the company has grown.
Most notably, they’d like to simplify other IT processes and fulfill some of the requests for new capabilities and hardware across several offices. In his ideal world, everything that can be automated would be: “Everything in one dashboard and complete automation from the top down? That sounds pretty good.”
Once the backlog is diminished, looping in the security and infrastructure teams to create other BetterCloud workflows is also on the roadmap. Ideas here include Google Drive Data Loss Prevention and policy enforcement, which would improve Ping’s ability to enforce strict sharing settings for their most sensitive documents.