South Kitsap’s in-house solution had trouble swiftly handling important account management tasks.
Improving student and employee efficiency with UMRA
South Kitsap School District is K-12 district located in Port Orchard, Washington. It currently encompasses a comprehensive grade 10-12 high school, 10 elementary schools, 3 junior highs, and 2 alternative schools which have over 9,500 students and 1,200 employees.
As with many school districts, South Kitsap has to deal with doing more with less, and needs to find ways to be the most efficient. The district’s IT department had developed their own in house solution to deal with user account management but after several years, realized that they had outgrown the solution. The in house solution could not complete such tasks as defining instructional folders, and it often took too long to create accounts. “Nowadays, teachers use online grading, email, and voicemail, and need to have their accounts created quickly, and students are using assessment tools from the day they enroll,” said Derry Lyons, Director of IT Services, at South Kitsap School District.
As they talked to other school districts about solutions, they learned about Tools4ever’s User Management Resource Administrator (UMRA). “In talking to counterparts, it was clear that UMRA was a robust and scalable solution, but also customizable to fit our environment.” “It had scalability to get us over the hurdles we were facing with our in house solution,” said Lyons.
South Kitsap decided to implement UMRA and began to work closely with their account manager at Tools4ever to map out exactly what needed to be done. “We told the technical team exactly what we wanted to do and they were able to build the scripts and test it,” said Lyons.
Accuracy of account information
In South Kitsap, student and employee information flows from their Skyward system into SQL Server and then UMRA takes over. “UMRA makes our accounts much more accurate. If a human is intervening things can get missed and are not quite right. UMRA knows exactly what permissions each user should get,” said Lyons.
For employees, UMRA creates an exchange email account, home directory, and adds them to the appropriate security groups within a day. UMRA allows IT staff at South Kitsap to concentrate on other projects and be more effective in other areas, rather than working on user accounts. “We’re not dealing with people calling us with account issues anymore; they just know it’s going to happen.”
“We’re not dealing with people calling us with account issues anymore, they just know it’s [problem resolution] going to happen.”Derry Lyons, Director of IT Services at South Kitsap School District
Tools4ever was also able to customize UMRA to the needs of South Kitsap. Teachers at the district wanted to use drop box folders, so students could safely submit assignments, or share files. By feeding UMRA student schedules and account information, it now manages the security of these folders.
Due to the student success with UMRA thus far, South Kitsap then decided to connect UMRA to their new human resource system, Skyward, for staff accounts, and have the entire process automated from start to finish. This allows them to provide a less than 24 hour turnaround from hiring to account provisioning. South Kitsap now plans on working with Tools4ever to continue using UMRA as a development platform to solve other issues that they are having such as password management. “It has very much been a partnership of success,” said Lyons.
“Through UMRA’s scripting interface, we are able to securely drive password management down to the school level, giving our teachers the tools they need to get students back online.”
Recently, the district has taken steps to further automate their process and make it even more efficient. Tools4ever worked with South Kitsap to connect their Cisco Unity and Call Manager with UMRA. Managing the district’s Cisco Communications system of 1,100 handsets and voicemail accounts was a manual task, involving a separate alert/request process and manual intervention by a network technician. “With several elements in the provisioning process, it was easy to miss a step,” commented Lyons.
Now, with the connection between UMRA and Cisco, UMRA performs imports at scheduled intervals or on demand throughout the day as needed, of new users, real-time moves of user phones and mailboxes. These tasks include assigning users to phones, updating caller ID names, creating new user voicemail boxes, resetting voicemail PIN numbers and gently deactivating accounts when staff leave the district.
“The Cisco Connector suite empowers our schools and departments to make the changes they need, on their timeline, while helping us enforce security policies for staff that have left the organization.”