Manukau City ties who to what and cuts costs

Manukau City Council expects big savings - at least on paper - as it extends its software directory services from providing a purely technical role to underpinning the alignment of its IT systems with business strategy.

Manukau City Council expects big savings — at least on paper — as it extends its software directory services from providing a purely technical role to underpinning the alignment of its IT systems with business strategy.

In July the council embarked on a $14.5 million project to replace disparate and aging corporate and financial software with systems based around PeopleSoft and Californian ratings software specialist Hansen.

A key component of integrating the new systems with business processes will be the use of identity management based around staff roles, initially among PeopleSoft users. This will be achieved by extending the functionality of Novell’s eDirectory software.

So far Manukau has used eDirectory only to manage network services, but is gearing up to keep track of the 870 staff throughout the organisation and eventually of anyone doing business with the council.

The process will automate the allocation of system access to new staff and locking out employees who leave the council, and offer to some degree single sign-on access to appropriate systems.

The extended use of eDirectory will also provide a level of reusability, so that when the council rolls out any new initiative it will fit a structured architecture which in turn will provide operational savings, says Manukau IT services director David Stringer.

Stringer says the new project seemed like an ideal opportunity to introduce role-based identity management. The council called on Novell to help it prepare a business case.

The exercise identified savings in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s not real money, but it saves real time and prevents real loss of productivity. It takes so long for a new employee to get hooked up to all the things he needs access to. Once you start adding that up and combine it with the annual staff turnover, it’s a huge cost. At the other end of the scale, you’re getting people leaving the system.

Typically companies just don’t deal with that because it’s too much work with no payback. We constantly have many new staff, but it might be a week-and-a-half before they get on to all their systems.”

Novell’s Gavin Stone, using a business model similar to that proposed to the council, says that based on an organisation of 1000 users with growth of 50 users per year, the investment in automated identity provisioning and an accompanying management policy would give the customer an ongoing return of around $2 million per year after the first year.

The total cost over three years would be $840,769 and total three-year benefit would be $5,805,236. The investment would pay for itself in about five months, and return on investment over three years would be 564%, he says.

Stringer says under the council’s Tomorrow’s Manukau manifesto, it eventually aims to give all citizens access to more information via the internet. “This is setting up the infrastructure to do that.”

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