E.ON UK, a power and gas supplier to 4.9 million UK homes, has cut the time it takes to set up new users on its network from seven weeks to five days. This comes as the E.ON group gears up for a major expansion programme in Europe.
The company - which is expanding in the UK, Russia, Spain, Portugal and Turkey - plans to integrate its UK identity management system from Siemens with its European Novell identity management system by the end of the year. This will allow it to control access to buildings and IT systems for more than 70,000 employees outside the UK.
David Hannaford, IT project manager at E.ON UK, said that the UK system, which manages more than 18,000 UK staff details, has allowed the company to control access across a wide range of IT systems that were acquired during a series of mergers and acquisitions.
"In an environment where we are frequently expanding and restructuring our European business operations, having an identity management system allows us to keep track of who is working where, what they have access to and how to communicate to them," Hannaford said.
In the past, communicating changes about new starters was a problem, as updates would take place on one database but not on others, Hannaford said. This potentially meant that an employee who had left a company could still be listed on a payroll, for example.
"Getting users set up on multiple IT systems - giving and removing permissions - was the main objective, though it was not just IT. It was about giving users access to multiple sites, locations and telephones," Hannaford said.
E.ON UK deployed Siemens' DirX Directory Server, which provides an authoritative source of data that synchronises permissions for a given employee, in March last year.
Even if the HR database is taken offline for maintenance, it will automatically re-synchronise with any updates that have taken place when it is reinstalled.
Hannaford advised companies undertaking similar projects to spend time classifying where authoritative sources of data are held and how these are updated.