New Hires – My System Admin Wish List

Last week I wrote about employee separations and the list of things that often need to be considered when an employee leaves. To balance that, here is the list of information I’d like to have handy when a new employee needs access to corporate resources.

  • Proper spelling of the person’s name (and if they have a preferred nickname) – Your company might insist that user accounts and email addresses be based on legal names, but if “Robert” always goes by “Bob” he may prefer “bjones” over “rjones” for his username. If your email global address book is sorted by first names, other staffers might look for Bob first under B, instead of R.
  • Start Date – I want to make sure everything is ready on the proper day. But, it’s also important to let me know if the start date is change or delayed. Most accounts are created with a generic, easy password and I would prefer to not have an active account hanging out there for an extra 2 weeks before the new hire can select a more secure password.

After the name and the start date, everything else tends to drift quickly from the ideal “standard” setup and slips to every employee being just a little bit different. By default, I give every new employee a personal home directory on the file server, access to their departments file share and membership on their department distribution list and any generic office lists, like “All Staff” or “San Francisco Office”.

  • Specialty Distribution Lists – Which other DLs do they need to be on? Contractors and employees might use different DLs. Managers, supervisors, special project lists, etc.
  • Phone Number – Will any available phone number do? Sometimes a hire is destined to replace someone who needs immediate coverage. If that’s not the case, I like to give out a fresh DID or at least one that hasn’t been used in a while. No one likes to spend their first weeks on the job fielding calls that don’t pertain to them. If I’m reusing numbers, I like to keep recycled numbers in the same department if possible. This way the new person in accounting won’t be getting calls directed to the person who retired from HR. And what about calling privileges – local only, long distance, international calling? How about membership in special hunt groups, dial-by-name directory? Do they need call appearances to pick up calls for manager or executive?
  • Applications and Security Groups – Which applications will they be using their first week or so? I know roles evolve and users always need their access adjusted. New hires usually will be learning 2-4 new applications immediately, so concentrate on finding out what those are. I don’t like to “make Bob the same as Joe”, because I know that Joe probably has membership in some security groups that Bob will never need. If the hiring manager can’t give you a list of which applications and data the new hire needs, remind them that security groups and application access are areas that are often looked at closely by auditors.
  • Hardware – What’s standard for others in that department or role? If you have options for different mice or keyboards, let the newcomer know so they can request changes sooner than later. Make sure they are connected to the closest printer to their workspace, etc.
  • Helpdesk Communications – Make sure they know the appropriate ways to submit help desk tickets or report problems. Should they use a ticketing-system? Send email? Call a special number? Pop into you cube? It’s a safe bet that people new to the office don’t want to annoy the IT folks, so set them up for success.
  • Training Documentation – Many departments have manuals or documentation about how various tasks are performed, IT is no different. Voice Mail instructions, conference bridge information, document management system procedures, “how-to” information for common FAQs related to Outlook or other applications… make sure the new hire knows how and where to find those things. It’s much easier help someone do something right the first time than to bother your DBA with bulk corrections to database information that was improperly entered.

Finally, document, document, document! File any forms or emails related to access needs and who authorized the access. Note the date you added or changed access going forward. Not only will this help with any audit needs, proper documentation can make it easier to remove access completely when someone leaves the company in the future.

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