Sometimes developers and businesses are so focused (as they should be) on the functionality that the software provides they, they tend to forget about maintaining the application after installation. Software companies and businesses alike need to take notice of the importance of having an admin console friendly interface for their application. The ongoing support of the application can be as costly and time consuming as the initial development. For that reason, they should look at the features of the admin console to combat some of the common issues that administrators face post-implementation.
1. High rate of turnover
The average length an employee remains at a job in the US is currently 4.4 years (Forbes) and 1 in 2 people have been in their current job less than 2 years. This translates that in large organizations that have large user bases, administrators will need to create and inactivate users on a regular basis. This process can often been tedious and time consuming.
Some features that should be included in the admin console to help administrators are:
- Ability to clone a user – Too often we get requests to give one user the same rights as another. This is also helpful when one individual is replacing another. The admin console should allow you to select an individual, select clone which would then default in the user’s default information (manager, location, security groups, etc) but and allow the admin to modify before finalizing the request
- Ability to assign existing tasks to a defined user – When a user is inactivated, their tasks often fall off into an abyss that then have to be re-assigned one at a time. Some times this is only done after the deadlines have passed. When deactivating a user, there needs to be an option to assign all of their tasks to an individual so that they can be actioned immediately.
2. Forgotten usernames/passwords
Working in desktop support helps you find we found that password inquiries and resets accounts ed for 80% of theour daily calls. Confirming the user’s identity and resetting their passwords, may not be the best use of your admins time.
Some features that should be included in the admin console or application to help administrators are
- Self-service – Most websites that require usernames/passwords have a self-service model that will either email you, your existing password or reset your password and send you a temporary password. This however, has not translated to internal applications, as users often are required to contact support to retrieve this information.
- LDAP synchronization – When applications are able to synchronize with LDAP, the users do not have to remember multiple usernames and passwords. If they can login to their machine, they can login to the application. They also do not have to worry about changing passwords on a routine schedule, as this is all handled at the root level.
- Single Sign-on – This takes LDAP one step further by automatically logging you in to the application using your credentials, at the time you sign on to your machine. This should only be used for applications that the user consumes to complete their daily activities.
3. Creating passwords
In most applications, administrators are required to type in a password for newly created users. This requires them to generate a new password for each user and also allows for mistakes to be made when they enter it into the console or in the “welcome” email to the user.
- There are numerous free password generators. Applications that do not use LDAP synchronization should incorporate a password generator that provide the following:
- Password conformance – There needs to be a default setting for password length, inclusion of special characters, and capitalization requirements.
- Initial user creation – Performing internal audits in the past, we have found that when admins use a “default” initial password, users typically do not change them upon initial login unless forced to do so. Applications should by default create a unique password for each new users that is sent as part of the automatic welcome email from the application. The application should also insist force a user to reset their password upon initial login as this allows them to create a more meaningful password that they are apt to remember and not need the password reset tool.
- Password Reset – There should be ability to select any user and select “reset password”, that kicks of a process similar to the initial user creation email that is sent only to the email on file for that user.