IT Onboarding: A Comprehensive Guide for Admins

Written by Brenna Lee on February 14, 2024

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As your organization grows, the challenges associated with managing employees’ digital access become more complex. Onboarding is an essential part of the employee experience for new hires — it’s the first look a new employee gets into your processes that will begin to shape their opinion of the company. It’s important to continuously ask new hires how onboarding went in order to improve your workflows as time goes on. Plus, IT needs to make sure the new hire gets access to the necessary tools, systems, and applications they need to be productive, all in a manner that’s smooth, uncomplicated, and efficient.

This guide aims to help you understand the importance of onboarding and how an IT onboarding tool can streamline the process for you, while maintaining and even improving security and compliance.

What is IT onboarding?

In short, IT onboarding is the process of setting up new employees with a digital identity that has access to the technology systems and software they need to perform their jobs. Granting access to various platforms, configuring devices, setting up email accounts, managing user identities, and plenty of other tasks are all part of the onboarding process.

A well-structured onboarding process reduces employee turnover, improves performance management, and ensures that new hires can get started with their work quickly. This is essential for both IT professionals and managed service providers (MSPs), because each party has an ever-increasing list of things to get done each day, and onboarding can and should only take up so much of their time.

Common Challenges of IT Onboarding

Let’s look at some of the challenges that organizations face with onboarding and break down how they aren’t all that scary when you have the right tools.

1. Dealing with multiple user identities across various systems and platforms

Often referred to as identity sprawl, managing multiple user identities across different systems and platforms is a significant challenge for IT teams. With 83% of organizations lacking a mature approach to access and user management, it’s no surprise that 62% allow user accounts and permissions to go unmanaged by IT. 

This lack of control leads to a complex and fragmented identity landscape, making it difficult to really know who has access to what. This creates a huge attack surface for bad actors, and makes it harder for employees to be productive when they forget which identity is associated with which app.

2. Ensuring consistent access control and timely revocation of access

Access management is a dynamic process requiring constant updates and adjustments to ensure security and correct permissions. With an estimated 85% of IT professionals using multiple tools for identity and access management (IAM), it’s clear that many organizations struggle to maintain consistent and centralized access control across their IT environments. 

Complications like these often lead to delays in granting or revoking access and can create security vulnerabilities. IT admins need to ensure that employees have the right level of access to perform their roles effectively, but they still need to prevent unauthorized access. More importantly, this access must be revoked or modified as soon as an employee’s role changes or they leave the organization, in order to prevent potential security risks. Timely revocation of access is crucial for preventing data breaches and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. 

3. Preventing unauthorized access and security breaches

Organizations without strong IAM tools and processes are at more risk for experiencing a security breach due to unauthorized access. Identity sprawl and over-privileged accounts are both huge security hurdles. Many organizations lack essential security measures such as single sign-on (SSO) layered with multi-factor authentication (MFA), which reduces identity sprawl and protects each user’s single identity. On top of that, with the right onboarding tool, IT can add conditional access policies to certain identities or resources to ensure only authorized access occurs.

4. Keeping track of employee role changes, promotions, or departures

Monitoring employee role changes within an organization and updating permissions accordingly is crucial for maintaining security and productivity. 

With a frightening 89% of employees retaining access to sensitive corporate data after their departure due to non-automated offboarding processes, it’s evident that manual onboarding systems struggle to keep up with the dynamic nature of the employee pool. Automated IT onboarding systems are much more efficient at updating access permissions and revoking privileges in real time, so that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive information. 

5. Ensuring proper access rights for contractors and temporary users

Contractors and temporary users often require access to specific systems for a limited period. It’s vital to grant these users least-privilege access quickly and securely, and equally important to revoke their access once their role is complete, to maintain security and compliance.

A key component of this is role-based access control, or RBAC. Leveraging this protocol, you can define access levels based on the role of the contractor or temporary user and ensure they only have access to the systems and data necessary for their specific role.

6. Maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements

Managing a variety of devices, including managing mobile devices, with different operating systems and ownership types, without hampering the employee experience, adds difficulty to the mix. Organizations need to comply with various regulatory requirements, like GDPR or HIPAA, which mandate specific controls over access to data. Managing compliance involves ensuring that access rights, data handling, and security measures meet these regulatory standards.

In today’s hybrid work environment, your employees likely use a range of devices, from personal smartphones to corporate-owned laptops. Each device type and operating system may require different management and compliance approaches, all of which add complexity to the IT onboarding experience.

7. Enforcing security policies and ensuring all devices are up to date and secure

Enforcing security policies across all devices and checking that they are up to date is critical for safeguarding against vulnerability exploits. Regular updates, security patches, and monitoring for any potential threats are all part of this process, but not all organizations have a good process or the right tools to do so.

8. Providing remote access and support for off-site employees

With the rise of remote work, the ability to provide secure and efficient access to any employee regardless of location or device type is more important than ever. 

However, IT teams face major challenges in managing hybrid workforces, with roughly 38% of IT professionals citing the ongoing management of remote/hybrid workers as one of their biggest burdens. 

This complex task involves setting up devices remotely, ensuring those remote devices comply with security protocols, and providing reliable support, among other things. When your IT staff is already being worked to the bone, getting tasked with managing a remote or hybrid workforce can be too much to handle without the right setup.

The Role of an IT Onboarding Tool

An IT onboarding tool is instrumental in addressing the complexities and security concerns of modern IT environments. These environments often combine on-premises and cloud resources, include a wide range of devices and operating systems, and have users working all over the globe. Therefore, an onboarding and IAM tool that can handle all of the above, plus some, is essential.

What to Look for in an IT Onboarding Tool

Choosing the right tool can be a big hurdle for organizations due to a few things. Sometimes, organizations aren’t sure what capabilities they need, sometimes budget is a restraint, and oftentimes there are other factors at play. So, let’s dive into what you should look for when searching for an onboarding tool.

Centralized Identity Management

The onboarding tool should have centralized and robust identity management capabilities that include the creation, management, and deactivation of digital identities for users. The process includes capturing and storing user attributes such as names, roles, and access privileges, optimizing access control, and enhancing overall security through efficient provisioning and deprovisioning of digital identities.

It’s important to have a single source of truth for user information and identity and access control to ensure that all data is kept up to date and is easy to access and manage.

Integration Capabilities

Figuring out how well a potential onboarding system integrates with your current stack is one of the most important things to consider. Ask yourself two questions when looking at IT onboarding tools:

  1. Does it integrate with my existing systems and applications?
  2. Does it offer seamless integration with cloud-based tools?

Seamless integration between tools is crucial for modern IT environments. You don’t want to buy a new tool to make IT’s lives easier but ultimately create more problems when it doesn’t integrate well or at all with the existing environment.

Security and Compliance Features

It’s also important that any IT onboarding tool you look at has strong password management and MFA capabilities. Password managers help in creating and managing strong passwords, stored securely to prevent unauthorized access. MFA adds an additional layer of security, requiring multiple forms of identification before granting access, significantly reducing the risk of compromised accounts.

Compliance with industry standards and regulations is also a key consideration in IT onboarding. IAM software plays a pivotal role in this aspect. It monitors, enables, revokes, and restricts employee access to company data and accounts. 

Device Management

In today’s work environment, where employees utilize a diverse range of devices, effective device management has become an indispensable aspect of the onboarding and IAM tool that you choose.

Support for a Wide Range of Devices and Operating Systems

The onboarding tool you choose needs to support a wide range of devices and operating systems. At a high level, the tool needs to be able to handle provisioning, securing, managing, and deprovisioning devices.

Centralized Control and Policy Enforcement

The onboarding tool also needs to create a centralized place for device management and policy enforcement to keep devices secure and employees productive. 

The alarming statistic that 33% of cyberattacks on both small business and medium-sized enterprises involve compromised or stolen devices highlights the importance of strong device management practices. With the increasing pervasiveness of remote work, organizations also have to prioritize the security of devices that are accessed from outside the traditional office environment, so your onboarding tool needs to be able to handle devices regardless of location as well.

If your organization wants to safeguard corporate data and protect employees from cyberattacks, you must elevate device management to a strategic priority and invest in the right solutions and security policies.

Automate Onboarding and Offboarding with JumpCloud

JumpCloud’s open directory platform offers a comprehensive and centralized solution for identity, access, and device management in IT organizations. It works irrespective of user and device location, device types, and operating systems used in the organization. 

A centralized approach like this significantly lowers your total cost of ownership and saves time by automating numerous manual tasks and workflows. 

Key features of JumpCloud include:

  • Centralized identity, access, and device management
  • Automation capabilities for onboarding, role changes, and offboarding
  • User, device, and policy groups for scalable management
  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Conditional access
  • Password management
  • Cross-OS and mobile device management (MDM)
  • Patch management
  • Cloud LDAP and RADIUS
  • Directory and system insights
  • API services
  • Remote assistance
  • Open integrations with other tools

New employees need only a single account and identity, which, when added to appropriate groups, provides immediate access to necessary resources. New users can start being productive from day one without the usual delays and frustrations associated with traditional onboarding methods.

How JumpCloud Made a Difference in Rapidly Growing Companies

The experience of Empatica, a digital healthcare technology company, exemplifies the benefits of adopting JumpCloud’s solutions. Facing rapid growth, Empatica required a scalable solution for their onboarding processes. The problem was, their previous approach — involving manual coordination between HR and IT for new account setups and device provisioning — was time-consuming and inefficient. 

But by integrating JumpCloud with Personio for people management, Empatica transformed their onboarding and offboarding workflows. The partnership brought about increased IT efficiency, streamlined processes, and improved security, all while fostering stronger collaboration between HR and IT. 

Lorenzo Servadei, a security engineer at Empatica, noted the significant time savings and enhanced security posture as key advantages of this transition: “I am able to onboard and offboard in what seems like minutes when it used to take days.”

Another organization to leverage JumpCloud for rapid growth was Futronix, a technology supplier and installer. They faced challenges in managing a growing number of clients and employees. Partnering with managed service provider 96firm — a JumpCloud partner — they implemented the perfect solution for identity and device management. 

This integration allowed Futronix to manage all customer and employee accounts efficiently, taking full advantage of benefits like rapid onboarding, enhanced security, and easy mobile device management.

Ricky Jordan of 96firm highlights how JumpCloud’s single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and remote device management features have revolutionized Futronix’s operations, stating, “If a new employee joined the company — or if an outside contractor brought their own device — Futronix could get these new users set up in an instant” where previously, “this process used to be done manually and could take hours at a time while following a manual checklist flow.”

Leveling Up Your Onboarding and Offboarding

By now, you can understand the importance of efficient IT onboarding and offboarding processes in the modern workplace. JumpCloud’s robust platform offers a comprehensive suite of tools that not only simplify but also automate these processes, significantly improving productivity and security. 

With its centralized management, automation capabilities, and secure access features, JumpCloud stands out as a solution well-suited for organizations looking to streamline their IT onboarding and offboarding processes. If you’re looking for an integrated, efficient, and secure approach to managing your IT infrastructure, sign up for a 30 day trial with JumpCloud to see it for yourself before committing.

Brenna Lee

Brenna is a Content Writer at JumpCloud that loves learning about and immersing herself in new technologies. Outside of the [remote] office, she loves traveling and exploring the outdoors!

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