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The Benefits of Establishing a Single Source of Truth for Managing Employee Devices

Successfully navigating automation hurdles hinges on IT teams' ability to maintain a single source of truth for employee data.

ITPro Today

May 17, 2024

6 Min Read
blocks of data

The automation of IT processes is not just a convenience — it's a necessity for ensuring robust security and operational efficiency. Most organizations suffer from SaaS app sprawl, with employees requiring secure access to a wide array of applications accumulated by different departments over the years. Even just to keep working devices in the hands of employees, many organizations, especially technology startups and companies with a remote workforce, end up doing a lot of manual work that they could be automating.

Increasingly, IT leaders are realizing that the key to overcoming automation challenges depends on whether they can meet one requirement — maintaining a single source of truth for employee data. Without it, IT teams are forever scrambling. But when they can rely upon a single source of truth, they can use automation to streamline IT processes, free up IT professionals to focus on more strategic tasks, and significantly enhance security.

The Problem with Disparate Systems

Organizations often rely on a patchwork of IT and HR systems, including identity providers (IdPs) and human resources information systems (HRIS). This fragmentation can lead to inconsistencies in employee data across platforms.

For example, when an employee is offboarded in the HR system but their access to company apps and accounts is not promptly revoked in the IT system, it creates a security risk. Companies often attempt to solve this by integrating their HRIS and IdPs together, but it's a duct-tape solution. Extensive work and investment are required to build out a comprehensive solution that isn't so fragile that something like the simple renaming of a department in the HRIS can break the whole integration. Separate systems speak separate languages, hampering companies trying to synchronize them and maintain a single version of truth.

The Single Source of Truth Solution

Rather than trying to unify siloed systems, companies need to adopt a unified platform from the get-go. Establishing a shared source of truth for employee data from the start reduces challenges and ensures that all information is consistent, up-to-date, and accessible across departments. A reliable employee record allows for the automation of critical IT processes, directly tied to HR events like hiring, promotions, and terminations. IT departments can automate the provisioning of accounts, access rights, and equipment as soon as a new hire is processed in the HR system. Similarly, they can ensure that an employee's access to all company resources is revoked immediately upon their departure.

The End of the IT Closet

There's one specific set of tasks that puts more undue pressure on IT teams than any other: employee device management. When an employee joins or leaves an organization, it sets off a domino effect of IT and logistical tasks that surround onboarding or offboarding. In organizations with disparate systems for HR and IT, there's often a delay before the IT team becomes aware of a new need, leaving them forever in reactive mode. They often either head into a messy IT closet full of laptops to seek a suitable one for deployment or add a new leaver's computer to a pile for later reconciliation, creating another workflow. If they're supporting a remote or hybrid workforce, they may even be forced to spend inordinate time on shippers' websites, tracking packages and chasing former employees for the return of IT assets.

Increasingly, organizations are removing this wild goose chase from their IT team's plate altogether and sending their IT closets to the cloud — by using inventory management services. These services enable IT teams to retrieve, store, ship, set up, and manage employees' devices without ever laying a finger on them. And when organizations are using integrated systems that maintain a single version of truth for employee data, devices can be deployed to new employees or decommissioned and sent back to a third-party warehouse for storage with just a few clicks.

Appcues, a user engagement software company, uses a single solution that unifies its IT and HR systems and includes inventory and device management services.

"It is an absolute dream to be able to order systems and have them shipped and not ever have to think about customs and international shipping and all that stuff," said Sean Edwards, Appcues' head of security. "Everyone knows when people get their email accounts. Everyone knows they get set up on Slack on day one. That stuff just happens, and nobody has to think about it. When HR is processing an offboarding, they just select a button, return the workstation, and everything else is handled."

The Truth Will Set Your IT Team Free

For IT professionals, moving to a unified platform brings about a significant reduction in the manual, time-consuming tasks associated with managing disparate systems. Freed from the burdens of system maintenance, IT teams can allocate their expertise where it matters most: enhancing security, improving system architecture, and driving innovation. The automation of mundane tasks also reduces the risk of human error, bolstering the organization's security posture.

A single source of truth for employee data has enabled Appcues' IT team to use the time and resources saved by automation to focus on strategic security initiatives. It has automated many manual tasks and significantly reduced the incidence of errors that could lead to potential security breaches. By minimizing the time and resources devoted to repetitive tasks, the company can allocate more attention to strategic projects aligning with its organizational goals. This includes training employees on security best practices and building a culture where security considerations are integrated into every aspect of the business process.

"We get built-in provisioning and de-provisioning reports, and we can use those for our SOC 2 evidence," Edwards explained. "Everything's automated: i's are dotted and t's are crossed, and everything's just spic and span."

Increasingly, companies like Appcues are even managing not just HR and IT, but also finance, centralizing payroll, benefits, expenses, corporate cards, computers, and apps in one unified platform. By connecting every workforce system to a single source of truth for employee data, businesses can not only eliminate manual work seeking that data, but also automate a range of manual work they need to do as part of their role.


Establishing a single source of truth for employee data not only improves the employee experience, it creates a strategic lever for automation in modern organizations. Systems that leverage reliable employee data enhance operational efficiency and security and allow IT professionals to devote more time to the initiatives that drive business value and innovation. In an era in which the employee experience must be balanced with security, the automation and integration of HR, IT, and even finance systems stand out as best practices for organizations aiming to stay efficient and competitive.

Zaafir Kherani is Product Lead at Rippling.

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