Why School District IT Must View HR as a Partner for IAM Implementation Success, CETPA 2018 Recap


 IAM in Education

Another successful IAM technology conference on the books! Identity Automation’s top K12 education experts attended the CETPA 2018 Annual Conference last month in Sacramento, California.

Not only did our team have great discussions with K12 IT professionals from across the state about ways to address their district’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) challenges head-on, but we also walked away with a deeper understanding of the situations these districts face every day.

Our team wasn’t the only source of valuable IAM knowledge present, however. One of Identity Automation’s California customers, Pasadena Unified School District, partnered with us to present From Chaos to Control: How Pasadena USD Increased Efficiency and Security with Modern IAM.

Having installed RapidIdentity SSO and Automated Lifecycle Management in their school district five years ago, Pasadena arrived at CETPA ready to teach their peers about how a modern IAM solution can transform their own districts.

IT and HR: A Critical Partnership

Pasadena USD’s CTO, Tendaji Jamal, represented the district at CETPA and walked them through Pasadena’s IAM journey, including the ups and downs that come with such a huge change. Most importantly, however, he imparted several critical lessons the district learned from their implementation experience, which will no doubt help other districts in their own endeavors.

The most prevalent lesson was the importance of internal alignment between IT and other internal (non-IT) stakeholders. When a school district undertakes an IAM implementation, IT drives the project, but they are not working in a bubble. As one of the few projects that touch all aspects of the district, there needs to be a shared vision and active involvement from all departments.

For any school district, access, identity management, and security all revolve around people. Because HR manages students and staff and IT manages IAM and security, they are forever intertwined and dependent on one another. So, while all departments are affected by an IAM implementation, HR is one of the most important partners IT has on this journey. However, prior to implementing RapidIdentity, Pasadena USD was experiencing a communication disconnect between the two departments.

In his presentation, Jamal took us back to the beginning, when Pasadena was struggling with the issue that led the district to seek a new IAM solution. He explained, “We were having a terrible time trying to keep communication between ourselves and our HR department to ensure we had proper tracking and accountability as people were being onboarded into the district or exiting the district.”

As a result, new teachers were teaching on their first day without access to needed programs and applications. Or teachers would maintain access—sometimes even months after they had left the district.

“We could never get to our list of more strategic projects because we were dealing with the day-to-day triage and firefighting associated with access management and identity governance tasks,” further elaborated Jamal.

With manual processes at their breaking point and the district concerned about security risks, Pasadena turned to RapidIdentity. However, district IT knew more action was needed to ensure the project’s success; proactively working with HR was the key to uncovering long-term solutions.

Jamal illustrated what this action looked like. “[The issues which arose with access] sat us back down at the table and we said, ‘how can we solve this?’ So we went back to our HR system and said ‘how are you guys coding this in HR?’”

With the two departments talking and working together during the implementation process, they were able to quickly enhance their processes and create an effective way for RapidIdentity to remove or add access for students and staff.

“Like most programs, there are codes that [HR is] putting into the system that flags [when a user exits the district], so we were able to pull that into our script and actually set up automatic triggers,” stated Jamal, adding, “Our HR department now has the ability to suspend and unsuspend accounts, just like the auto-provisioning, without anyone from my team getting involved.”

But communication goes both ways, and IT also needed to know when access was removed, so that access wasn’t accidentally granted again at the help desk. Easily solved. “We were able to put another flag in place to identify within our systems to say this person has been frozen by HR,” explained Jamal.

The story of Pasadena USD perfectly illustrates why HR is an ally for IT, not adversary. With the foundation of the right technology and vendor, a partnership between these two departments can make all the difference.

Looking to 2019

We have no doubt our audience left the presentation more aware and better educated. Just like we have no doubt that we left California feeling more in touch with our customers’ experiences and our future in the education space.

Now, back in Houston, we’ll be staying put and enjoying the (warm Texas) holidays at home. Our next conference, HIMSS 2019, isn’t until February 2019, and as always, we can’t wait to get back on the road!

Higher Education Identity Access Management


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