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Revolutionizing IT for Small Businesses: A Closer Look at Electric’s Application Management Solution

Revolutionizing IT for Small Businesses: A Closer Look at Electric’s Application Management Solution

Read Time: 4 minutes Published: February 6, 2024

Hello Tech Enthusiasts,

In today’s fast-paced business world, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often attempt to balance productivity with effective IT management. Recently, Electric, a prominent IT service player, introduced an innovative product that promises to ease this juggling act. Today, I want to dive deep into one of its key features – Application Management – and explore how it transforms how small businesses handle their IT needs.

The Evolution of Application Management:

In the Early Days: A DIY Approach

Reflecting on my early days in a budding company, I recall how application management was akin to a Wild West scenario. With just about five employees, we would cherry-pick applications, a haphazard approach driven more by personal preference than strategic planning. Responsibilities for costs and access were implicit, and the process was, to put it mildly, utterly chaotic.

The Complexity at Scale: A Tale of Two Extremes

As companies grow, the DIY approach becomes untenable. At one end of the spectrum, we have large corporations with over 1000 employees, seamlessly using single sign-on (SSO) and user provisioning tools based on standards like SAML and SCIM. This level of sophistication, while ideal, is often a distant dream for smaller entities due to the complexity of rollout and the prohibitive costs of premium application features.

Finding the Middle Ground: Task-Based Solutions

And this brings us to the middle ground – a niche that Electric’s new Application Management solution elegantly occupies. It’s a task-based system designed to empower employees to manage their accounts in a controlled yet straightforward manner. This system is particularly relevant for companies navigating the murky waters between small-scale operations and large enterprise needs.

A Journey Through Application Management: Personal Anecdotes

The CFO’s Spreadsheet Awakening

In one of the companies I worked with, a turning point came when the CFO, flabbergasted by spiraling application licensing costs and redundant subscriptions, took matters into his own hands. He created a detailed spreadsheet, assigning account ownership and screaming for a cleanup. While initially effective, this method soon became outdated, necessitating repeated herculeon efforts to stay current.

Compliance Concerns

Handling security concerns, especially around user account management, is a pivotal aspect of maintaining SOC2 compliance. Consider this common scenario: the growth of user accounts, including those lingering ones from former employees. Addressing this is crucial but often overlooked.

You might ponder integrating a task-based system within a platform like Atlassian Jira. On the surface, it is a savvy move. But, speaking from experience, this can be akin to opening a can of worms – implementation is costly and time-consuming, and these systems rarely age gracefully.

Electric’s Application Management Solution: A Game Changer

A Tailored Approach for SMEs

Electric’s solution is specifically tailored for companies with 10 to 200 employees, addressing the concerns of both Finance and Security. Purpose-built for Electric’s clientele and maintained by their team.

The Role of the Champion

In this system, each application has a ‘champion’ – an individual with admin rights responsible for user access and support queries. This decentralized approach ensures that application management is both responsive and accountable.

Seamless Workflow Integration

User access requests are integrated into the new user onboarding workflow, while removal requests are part of the offboarding process. This integration makes the process systematic and audit-friendly, aligning with most compliance programs.

Empowering Employees through Self-Service

A user portal enables employees to request access and seek help, fostering a self-service culture within the organization. While it may not be as sophisticated as full automation, it strikes an optimal balance between affordability and functionality. It serves as a practical stepping stone towards more advanced identity provider (IdP) solutions. Further, automated solutions are rarely a panacea. Automation comes with a tax.  Application support for IdP specifications like SAML and SCIM are often part of premier license packages at increased cost.  Plus, the rollout of IdP solutions can take months to years. So, starting with a task-based approach covers all apps quickly and will be forever valuable for some of your company’s applications.

Conclusion: The Right Fit for Growing Businesses

In conclusion, Electric’s Application Management solution fills a critical gap in the IT landscape for small to medium-sized businesses. It provides an affordable, efficient, and scalable solution by offering a middle ground between manual processes and high-end automated systems. Balancing productivity with IT management just became much easier for companies on the growth trajectory.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have you faced similar challenges in your business? How do you manage application access and compliance? Please share your experiences, and let’s continue this fascinating conversation about the ever-evolving world of IT management.

Keep Innovating,

Greg Pellegrino

Greg Pellegrino is the VP of Engineering at Electric with over ten years of experience in product development lifecycle and delivering high-quality software solutions.

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