The IT department at Pinellas County School district was overwhelmed with calls for password resets, especially at the beginning of each school year. They also needed to find a more efficient way to create and manage accounts for over 300,000 users.
Efficiency with Tools4ever
Pinellas County School District, located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida consists of 138 schools ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, as well as an adult school for community and work force education. With 103,000 students, 8,500 teachers and over 200,000 parents, the IT staff spent an inordinate amount of time correcting account problems. Their primary intent was to address the teachers, who often either forgot their password over summer break or were locked out due to password expiration over this time period.
Pinellas initially implemented Tools4ever’s Self Service Reset Password Manager (SSRPM) to resolve the teacher’s password problems. It allows users to reset their passwords themselves after answering several security questions so that the IT department was no longer inundated with calls. When Pinellas began to look for a solution for account management, Tools4ever was a frontrunner due to their previously superior service with SSRPM. “Whenever we had questions or needed something, Tools4ever was very responsive; we had a good history with them. They were on the same page and very understanding of our situation,” said John Just, Assistant Superintendent at Pinellas County School District.
Account management efficiency
Pinellas implemeneted Tools4ever’s User Management Resource Administrator (UMRA) to assist with the process of account management for their users. With UMRA, when an account is created in Active Directory, it automatically populates the parent portal, student information system and any other systems as required, eliminating a tedious and potentially error prone manual process. This was especially efficient in creating accounts for the large number of parental users. “Parents are very connected these days, so they need to have access to the parent portal to get an answer on any questions that they have,” said Just. Within the first year, Pinellas was able to enroll over 200,000 parents in both UMRA and SSRPM concurrently. Wih UMRA inplace, students and their perents are now able to start the new school year with a significantly easier process. “It continues to get better every year,” Just said.
“Tools4ever is a very customer focused company. They are knowledgeable not only in their product set, but also in customer needs and experiences.”John Just, Pinellas County Schools Assistant Superintendent
Resolving security issues
Pinellas County Schools has also dealt with security concerns when people who did not work for the school, such as parents and volunteers, needed access to the systems. The school requires these types of users to enter a driver’s licence, ID, or passport number as means of identification. This was a major security risk as many people entered false or invalid information. UMRA is set up to validate the required information exists before the person can gain access. This resulted in Pinellas having the ability to clean up their systems by removing users without the ID and to properly identify user types.
Two factor authentication is another verification method that SSRPM boastsadding an extra layer of security to Pinellas login procedure. A normal login requires you to enter your username and password, this is known as single factor authentication. Two-factor authentication makes your account more secure because it requires an additional type of authorization such as a PIN code sent to your phone or e-mail address.
With UMRA and SSRPM up and running, Pinellas is working with Tools4ever to continually improve the system to meet their specific needs. Currently, they are woorking on a process which will send e-mail confirmation to parents when thier account is created. “Tools4ever is a very customer focused company. They are knowledgeable not only in their product set, but also in customer needs and experiences.”
The overall result of UMRA and SSRPM has been significant reductions in calls coming into the help desk at Pinellas about account and password problems. It had freed up resources and eliminated the monotenous task of resetting passwords. “The IT department is now able to focus more on curricular activities such as support of instruction and technology in the classroom,” Just said.