Manually supporting multiple locations for account provisioning was becoming increasingly challenging.
Automated account provisioning increases efficiency, frees up staff to maximize their talent
Randolph Central School Corporation, located in Winchester, IN, is a K12 district and the county’s largest public school corporation, serving roughly 1,800 students and staff across 5 schools and 2 remote sites.
Seven years ago, Randolph Central’s account management was dependent on custom scripts written by an IT staff member. “It was VB scripting that would do some user parsing from a CSV file with AD, but it was fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants scary stuff,” described Jonathan Butler, Network Admin, “so you tested it the best you could and you turned it loose and hoped it didn’t corrupt your active directory.”
Following that coworker’s departure, Jonathan enlisted local college students on summer break to help with account updates and migrations coinciding with a brand-new directory. Randolph Central’s separate locations were also becoming an increasing burden, requiring on-premises managing as schools housed their own servers.
“We had the summer help that we hired for $3,000,” Jonathan said, “who normally would do work helping us clean computers, set up labs, do different things.” He can easily recall the mounting frustration in spite of their help: “I can promise you at a minimum, in a summer, the timeframe took over a month for one person to process all of the student & staff changes in active directory.”
“Tools4ever, with our active directory, is the hub of the wheel of our operation. Everything else is around it and we just keep adding spokes as the goal.”Jonathan Butler, Network Administrator at Randolph Central School Corporation
Introduction of automation
Researching solutions to his challenges, Jonathan discovered UMRA and quickly reached out to discuss implementation. Tools4ever began building the project in July 2010, finishing before school started: “We got done with that and I was like, ‘wow, this is like having another person working here.” UMRA automated and synched student accounts every hour to meet everyone’s needs, particularly after Randolph Central’s 2012 1:1 rollout.
“Now, when students walk in at 8 a.m. and they register for school” explained Jonathan, “they can immediately start taking their classes, including those requiring accounts, and can get an iPad before the end of the day. That can’t happen if we have to manually enter each student and staff’s account info and we don’t know about them until the next few days.”
Provisioning staff accounts
While student automation has been handled by UMRA, staff accounts were still being created with the same manual processes from before. In 2016, district staff transitions, struggles with email groups, and another departing coworker combined to see Jonathan and Randolph Central turn to Tools4ever once more, implementing the new IAM Delegation. IAM Delegation now manages those groups and centrally provisions new hires the same-day, including employee information, an active email address, and even helps prepare them for hardware allocations.
“They don’t have to wait 30 minutes to get network and email accounts created. They have all that when they walk in to get their MacBook or iPad. That’s the gain we got from the pain we had.” The IAM Delegation Portal also allowed non-technical staff to perform basic helpdesk tasks to further reduce IT’s workload. “The biggest thing we had recently is that, now, secretaries can look up passwords for students,” said Jonathan. “They don’t have to send them down to our office where there are only 1 or 2 of us that can get into AD to look up their passwords.”
After two successful implementations, Randolph Central depends on IAM Delegation and UMRA to perform the heavy lifting and Jonathan could not be more thrilled with the results. “Tools4ever, with our Active Directory, is the hub of the wheel of our operation. Everything else is around it and we just keep adding spokes as the goal.” Randolph Central will begin a third project, summer 2017, implementing Password Synchronization Manager (PSM) to link their AD and Google Passwords for even more streamlined management.
Post implementation support
Questioned about Tools4ever’s support and ability to address any post-implementation issues, Jonathan responded confidently, “It’s pretty amazing.” He said, “anything that’s been an issue has been resolved by support. We probably call them less than once a year, if that.”
“I’ve never had any issues with them meeting my expectations, they’ve always far exceeded them. I’ve always said that the staff from Tools4ever is hands down, some of the most impressive, specific, to-the-point, get-the-job-done, professional people I’ve ever worked with,” concluded Jonathan.