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Many school districts have to examine their resource request systems and modernize processes, especially now that learning has gone remote

Cleaning up resource request processes during remote learning


Many school districts have to examine their resource request systems and modernize processes, especially now that learning has gone remote

The U.S. education system has never experienced a challenge like COVID-19, and it is fundamentally altering students’ and staffs’ access to edtech. School districts across the country have turned to their cloud-based learning resources to continue learning.

With so many students and staff remaining behind their own front doors, what is your district’s plan for changing access needs?

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Thankfully, the rate of cloud migration over the past decade has led to the development of numerous edtech and remote resources that can be accessed from home to prevent students from falling behind. However, the siloed nature of cloud-hosted resources complicates IT environments and account provisioning.

With manual account management, IT teams have to individually set up and configure every single account for all users. Before tackling such a mountain of menial data entry, IT teams must navigate request and approval processes to ensure that all of the account setup and provisioning is in order.

Resource request and approval processes remain inadequate in many school districts, creating future problems regarding IT oversight, security, and noncompliant access rights. As circumstances and needs change, staff members or students may require access to new IT resources.

Many districts still rely on painfully slow paper forms or informal emails to submit resource requests. The former requires running around for signatures and physical infrastructure for proper records; the latter fragments all of the requests and makes it nearly impossible to track and review them.

Aside from these being poor management processes, the individual IT employee who receives these resource requests frequently lacks the broader context to make the decision. IT often doesn’t know if granting a user approval for a given resource remains compliant with data privacy, education regulations, license counts, or internal policies. Most commonly, the request is held in limbo until IT can track down and determine if approval remains compliant, they automatically deny it, or they automatically approve it.

Resource request complications have all been significantly exacerbated by COVID-19. Despite existing request inefficiencies, you could at least physically hunt down IT, supervisors, or coworkers for assistance or to help push closer to approval. With everyone working and learning from home, trying to request resources has never been more difficult. Your IT staff is likely running all over just to ensure your environment remains functioning properly, let alone processing new requests with speed.

Whether it’s a solution, custom/in-house scripting, or some other fix, your school district has likely needed to revamp your resource request and approval processes for some time. COVID-19 and the related surge of remote works is simply illuminating the problem greater than ever before. Some self-service platforms provide interfaces to overhaul these processes, including configurations to automate and manage both provisioning and future access requests. Regardless of your method, there is one thing you can do to reduce request inefficiency: bypass IT.

Sure, it sounds incredibly counterintuitive on its face. If IT manages the back-end, how would bypassing them be possible? Some self-service solutions will bypass IT entirely as a result of their configured automations. These platforms will let your school district determine who should be sent an access or resource request, ensuring it is sent to the appropriate manager or most knowledgeable decision maker for a given circumstance. With automations, all processing and provisioning are consistently completed in the background—without ever pulling IT off of their other responsibilities.

In a manual environment, this looks much more like “postponing” IT in a more direct workflow. Rather than have all staff submit their resource requests directly to IT as needed, your school district should enforce a structured process requiring that any request first goes to a department head or the user’s manager. This helps keep organizational decisions in the proper hands of those with the appropriate day-to-day knowledge and experience. IT’s responsibility is to fulfill the request pending the decision, not make the decision themselves.

Manual efforts will still have significant complications, especially when it comes to access reviews and audits in the long run. However, this simple “streamlining” for request processes ensures that school district staff who should be in control over these decisions are in control for them.

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