There are a million onboarding guides dedicated to HR. However, few of them fully appreciate the critical role that IT plays in bringing on new users. That’s why we’ve created this IT admin’s onboarding best practices guide.
Start with the Workstation
Without the right tools, work can’t get done. It’s critical that the first step in onboarding a new user is to give them their workstation (usually a laptop). Depending on your setup, you can use zero-touch deployment for macOS®, Linux®, and Windows® systems to automate what would normally be a manual IT workflow. It will still require manual user creation, but everything from there can be taken care of without needing your direct influence. Of course, you’ll need to put in the up-front effort to build out a zero touch deployment process, but that can be well worth the time and effort. There are tools that can help you accomplish this as well.
Best Practice: Link the system to the user identity. Increasingly, IT organizations are choosing to make the user’s workstation the core of their users’ identities. This is conventionally done with a directory service or MDM depending on the device.
Provision Users to IT Resources
Making sure new hires are connected to all the IT resources they need is crucial to onboarding. Ideally, this would be done before their first day where possible and as close to their start date elsewhere, so they can start working almost immediately.
Such resources include file servers, applications, email, WiFi, and printers. For some applications, you can take advantage of JIT (Just-in-Time) provisioning to expedite the onboarding process.
If you take the time to help users log in and utilize these resources, they’re less likely to have problems down the road.
Best Practice: Choose an SSO provider that can link up seamlessly with the core identity already established at the system/directory level. JIT provisioning is a nice-to-have for compatible applications.
Gamification Solidifies Learning
It can be tempting to lay out everything a new hire needs to know in a slideshow or document. However, new hires likely won’t remember half the information presented to them if you teach passively.
Instead, turn learning into a game. Make it a friendly competition to see who can reset their password the fastest, for example, or create an IT scavenger hunt to get new hires familiar with their resources. Turning the IT onboarding process into something more interactive will keep new hires engaged, and their learning experience will be solidified more effectively as a result.
Best Practice: Make onboarding interactive. Avoid long slide-shows and extensive hand-holding.
Make Yourself Approachable
Bringing in new hires can be like bringing a new cat home. They may be excited to start at a new job, but nervous about the unfamiliar people they’ll be working with.
When they need help accessing their IT resources, you’ll want them to feel comfortable enough to approach you. Otherwise, they may create their own accounts in an attempt to circumvent potentially awkward social situations. This breeds shadow IT and any number of cybersecurity risks. It’s best to present yourself as an approachable person so that when people need assistance, they won’t hesitate to come to you.
Best Practice: First impressions are important. When onboarding users, you’re also meeting new co-workers. A smile and kind tone in the beginning can go a long way toward establishing a pleasant rapport long-term.
Make an IT FAQ
It’s good to let new hires come to you for help, but there are some matters that are so common, they can be addressed in an FAQ. Making an FAQ for common IT concerns (i.e., how to choose their passwords) can reduce the amount of help tickets users submit. You won’t have to worry about addressing the same problem repeatedly, and users won’t have to wait on your response to continue working.
Best Practice: Take the time to answer common questions systematically. You’ll save time in the long-term by directing people to the FAQ for self-serve info.
How do you know if your onboarding process is successful? Anonymously survey those who participated in it. The survey can be sent out between three and six months after a new hire group starts. Use the feedback you receive as data points to determine what you’re doing right, what you could do better, and what you might need to change.
Best Practice: You don’t know your blindspots unless you ask. Consider soliciting feedback both during your onboarding sessions and through anonymous surveys.
A positive onboarding experience can encourage new talent to remain with the organization for long periods of time. In other words: it can spare IT admins from long-lasting headaches.
For more best practices, check out our Employee Onboarding and Offboarding ebook.