In many organizations, groups are properly seen as the foundation for security and accessibility to resources and email functionality. They therefore require regular attention to ensure that they are updated properly. In some cases, this task is performed by IT when a new employee joins the company and when one leaves. In other cases, it may involve a process in which the people who have a more familiar understanding of the staff needing access to data, systems, and applications first recognize that a modification is needed and then submit a request to your helpdesk.
You know that group management is costing the organization IT’s time and resources, but just how much managing groups can actually cost is often overlooked. By getting a grasp of the expense that groups add to IT’s bottom line, you begin to build a stronger understanding about whether continuing to perform this task manually is the appropriate way to manage groups within your organization.
So, how do you really calculate the amount of time you’re spending managing groups?
We recently commissioned a Forrester Total Economic Impact report, and its analysts outlined some very simple ways to calculate the real cost of managing groups. First, they broke the costs into two separate activities:
- the management of groups due to employee turnover (the removal of departing employees from groups and the addition of new employees by IT security personnel)
- the ongoing updates to both security and distribution groups (assumed to involve the process of users’ submitting tickets to the helpdesk)
Let’s look at the cost calculations for each.
Calculating the Cost of Employee Turnover
This cost assumes that you’re actually managing the Active Directory group lifecycle and that the appropriate group membership removals and additions are being performed regularly. Here is the formula that Forrester used to calculate this cost:
Employee turnover per month x hours per update x hourly cost x 12 months
Armed with this formula, it’s merely a matter of plugging in the numbers. For example, let’s say that you’re a larger enterprise with 10K employees, of which 100 employees leave every month, and it takes an IT pro an hour to perform the tasks necessary to ensure that all memberships have been properly updated. (Forrester calculated this to be an average of 3 hours, but we’ll keep it at 1 hour to simplify the calculation.)
The next step is to plug in the fully loaded hourly cost of the IT staffer and multiply that monthly cost by 12 to get the annual cost of managing Active Directory groups. If that IT staffer makes $60K a year, we can use the simple $30/hour number for illustrative purposes. Here is the resulting calculation:
100 employees x 1 hour x $30 x 12 months = $36,000
The important point to remember is that this cost is only for updating groups due to turnover. There’s also the ongoing updates requested by employees.
Calculating the Cost of Ongoing Updates
The assumption here is that within your organization users submit tickets to the helpdesk, requesting changes to both security and distribution groups — and these requests are made on a daily basis as business needs change. This is the calculation used by Forrester for this cost:
New/changed group requests per month x average cost per ticket x 12 (months)
To continuing with our example above, let’s assume that our large enterprise would have add 600 new distribution lists per month and handle 2,000 updates every month. (These numbers are close to Forrester conclusions, which were based on its interviews with several organizations.) If an average helpdesk ticket costs $18 (Forrester’s assumption), this would be the resulting calculation:
2600 requests per month x $18 per ticket x 12 months = $561,600
Totaling up the Cost
Even if you don’t agree with some of the assumptions used for these calculations (as you may think that you have fewer group change requests per month, or that it takes your IT team less time to update groups changes resulting from turnover), that’s ok. The key point here is that it’s important to determine what group management really costs your organization.
Another important consideration is that the total cost of managing groups includes not only the tangible monetary costs outlined above but also the “lost opportunity” cost of the time not focusing on strategic initiatives. For this reason, the Forrester report also considers the prospect of using a solution that automates group management and empowers self-service of daily changes.
Do the math yourself and see how much your organization is spending on managing groups, then read the report yourself and see how you compare.