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The pandemic accelerated hybrid work and cloud adoption — but it also ignited the Great Resignation. 

By the end of 2021, 69 million Americans (20% of the U.S. population) “separated” from their jobs. 

As more organizations are increasing their use of technology, they have fewer people to manage it. All of this has placed a strain on enterprise onboarding and offboarding capabilities. Still, businesses struggle to automate this process, resulting in critical loss of technology assets and unauthorized access, according to a new report from enterprise technology management (ETM) provider Oomnitza

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“The pandemic and the Great Resignation placed a huge strain on enterprise onboarding and offboarding processes to the point where automating them has become priority one for just about every company we talk to,” said Arthur Lozinski, Oomnitza CEO and cofounder. “We conducted this research to offer greater insight into the scope of the problem.” 

Increased churn, more apps to manage

Research suggests that organizations will continue to struggle with turnover. A survey by McKinsey and Company, for instance, found that 53% of employers were experiencing greater voluntary turnover in 2021 than in previous years. The firm also reported that 51% of employers expect to cut jobs in 2022. 

At the same time, mid to large-sized companies have 187 software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications on average, according to Okta’s Businesses at Work 2022 Report

Increased IT demands and growing workforce turnover rates and the data privacy, security and financial risks that accompany them make automating secure offboarding processes a strategic business imperative, said Oomnitza cofounder, Ramin Ettehad. 

“There is too much room for errors, gaps, inaccuracies and inefficiencies when relying on humans to work through various IT systems manually to fulfill onboarding and offboarding requests,” he said. “Also, many processes are not well documented or maintained.”

Doubt about automation capabilities, loss of assets

The 2022 State of Onboarding Process Automation Report, for which the research was conducted by YouGov, found that nearly half of IT leaders are doubtful about their organization’s ability to effectively automate the onboarding and offboarding of workers.

Also of the 213 senior-level IT professionals polled:

  • Forty-nine percent reported the loss of at least 5% of their technology assets due to workers leaving the company; while 27% lost more than 10%; and one fifth lost between 10% and 20%. 
  • Forty-two percent experienced at least 5% of instances of unauthorized access to SaaS applications and cloud infrastructure due to deprovisioning deficiencies of former workers; one-fifth had more than 10% such instances; and 17% didn’t know the extent of unauthorized access stemming from incomplete deprovisioning of employees and contractors. 
  • Forty-eight percent of respondents expressed deficiencies in or lack of automated workflows across departments and IT tools to facilitate the secure offboarding of employees. 
  • Technology, healthcare and manufacturing organizations have poorer (greater than 36%) asset reclamation rates compared to other industries when offboarding employees and contractors. They also expressed higher instances of unauthorized access to SaaS and cloud resources by former workers compared to other industries. 
  • Retail and technology expressed lower overall confidence (greater than 60%) towards their on-boarding and off-boarding automation capabilities compared to other industries. 

As Lozinski noted of the report, “not only did it help to quantify the amount of technology loss and risk due to inefficient processes, it also underscores the importance of taking a cohesive, holistic approach to fixing them.”

Inaccuracy and execution gaps

There are a myriad of reasons why organizations struggle so much to onboard and offboard employees, said Ettehad; it can be a complex and convoluted process. 

For starters, there are many technology lifecycle management considerations — from endpoints and hybrid workplace to SaaS and cloud infrastructure — that must be accounted for, he said. Beyond the sheer volume of technology that personnel use, there are also a wide array of employee and contractor needs, requisites and regulations that must be consistently met. 

Furthermore, the data needed to effectively onboard and offboard workers is fragmented across siloed HR and IT management tools. 

As a result, organizations stitch together data, tools and staff requests to fulfill the many diverse tasks required to onboard or offboard. 

“Managing this with IT service tickets and waiting for human replies is no longer a viable or scalable option,” said Ettehad, especially when organizations are laying off 10% of their hybrid workforce. “These manual processes are prone to human error, inaccuracy and execution gaps.”

The first step: Assessment

ETM platforms that provide business process automation for IT and technology help to eliminate these deficiencies.

Still, “to start, you can’t automate processes on inaccurate or out-of-date data,” said Ettehad. 

The process begins with an assessment of technology lifecycle management, he said. For instance, are endpoints, applications, network and cloud infrastructure accounted for from “procurement to end-of-life?”

HR, IT and security teams must convene and define policies and procedures to address the various onboarding and offboarding user types, requisites and scenarios, as well as the tools and processes to satisfy these requirements, said Ettehad. 

“You can start with the most common and simple processes, and then advance to frequent but more complex scenarios,” he said.

Embracing automation

ETM platforms integrate with an organization’s existing HR, finance and IT tools at the API level, allowing them to cross-correlate operational data residing in siloed systems. 

This centralized data warehouse is then combined with a graphical, low-code workflow editor, which enables all IT staff to quickly and easily automate key business processes, explained Ettehad.

Organizations can then define and automate the offboarding process, from separation to recovery, based on policies and conditions, he said. At the same time, they can minimize mundane and incomplete tasks, and continuously improve onboarding and offboarding processes.

Ensuring that the right endpoints, accessories, applications and cloud resources are available at the start helps new hires be productive at the start, he pointed out. And, ETM can enable secure offboarding by ensuring endpoints and their data are secured, software licenses are reclaimed, and access to systems, SaaS and cloud resources are deprovisioned. 

Furthermore, a departing worker’s email, applications and workplaces can automatically be appropriately reassigned.

“Once automated, analytics can more quickly help staff identify and resolve gaps, anomalies, new controls and additional compliance mandates to support continuous improvement,” said Ettehad. 

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