Auditing Pickerington Local SD’s Google Admin console settings: A Customer Spotlight

The Google Admin console has over 1000 settings. With Google’s regular changes and updates, it can be difficult to keep your console in line with current EDU best practices, which can leave it vulnerable to security breaches and compliance violations. The Amplified IT team developed our one-of-a-kind audit to provide schools with an in-depth review of their Admin console with insights on how to manage settings for the growth and development of their IT and curriculum departments.

Mis-managed console settings

Pickerington Local School District (PLSD) serves 12,000+ students and staff in Pickerington, Ohio. The district first introduced Google for Education to their digital infrastructure in 2011, but transitioned from being a predominantly Mac and iPad campus in 2014. Kelsey Scholl, a Systems Analyst for PLSD, recalls, “From my understanding, Google was chosen to help us bring technology into the classroom with Chromebooks.”

When they initially migrated to Google Workspace, Kelsey’s predecessors engaged Amplified IT and procured an audit for their Google environment. However, due to high turnover and growing pains in the IT department from 2014 to 2018, minimal changes were implemented to the OUs. “Prior to me, there were several people who had managed the Admin console. No one person was in charge of it, leading to many decisions that were not best practices for our infrastructure,” Kelsey explained. The extensive system had been maintained by being piecemealed together by anyone who had the time to do it, and more often than not, that meant it was done by team members who were not qualified or trained to make decisions as Google Workspace administrators.

Keeping up with audits

Kelsey did not have a solid foundation in Google, nor was the first audit provided by Amplified IT shared with her. She said, “I came from a JAMF, and Apple background and am very knowledgeable with technology and computers but every management system and OS is different. When stepping into this role, I really wanted a checklist of things to learn and change to make our environment better.”

In 2018, as she searched for solutions to her district’s pain points, it was by chance she discovered us at a Google Workspace training session she attended in Sandusky, Ohio. Like the systems analysts that came before her, Kelsey immediately saw the value in Amplified IT’s services and how we could support her department with our education foundation and Google expertise. She began the process of working with us as soon as she returned to her office, and sought a new audit for her district. She added, “In that training, I realized that our Workspace was not up to snuff. There are constant changes to Google for Education that I was not able to keep up with, and the Google Admin console has not always been intuitive, so I knew the audit would reveal and break down what settings we could adjust, and allow me to focus on security and organization.”

Better safety, security, and compliance

An audit includes a 4-page high-level review that gives a score, and a focused area of improvement, as well as a deep analysis of domain setup, OU structure, account provisioning, admin roles, and user account management. After compiling a district’s data, the Amplified IT consultancy team examines the settings of the Admin console against EDU best practices and the goals of the district. They are then documented on an 80-page roadmap with a rationale on how to accomplish the changes. Kelsey recalls, “Honestly, nothing in the audit surprised me, but I was alarmed with the amount of shared drives and accounts that were not being monitored. People were creating test accounts on a whim. In cybersecurity, schools are large targets and I wanted to do everything in my control to protect our district.”

With Amplified IT back on PLSD’s team and a second audit under their belt, Kelsey and her department were equipped with the information they needed to make their Google Workspace environment better for administrators, teachers, and students. She found the security recommendations extremely useful. “I only knew the practices handed down from previous analysts, but Amplified IT gave me understanding on the security for hiding accounts, super admins, and custom delegations for super admins. It helped to keep some of the hands in the pot from overstepping their roles in the console and causing issues,” she explained.

The audit also allowed her to keep the console compliant. Her team originally had no control over shared drives, but can now check their security, and clean out old accounts, making them much easier to manage. She has even implemented content compliance rules to keep the console running smoothly in the future. Kelsey added, “This became a living document for me to use and reference in conversation with my team and school leadership when justifying the need for change.”

Amplified IT’s audit not only provides solutions to current issues within a Google Admin console, but also acts as a guide to keep a Google Workspace environment operating at its highest level.

Kelsey said, “Other companies we have worked with were more concerned with money and time than ensuring we were doing what was best for us. Amplified IT has been invested in education, and they have focused on setting us up for success. They are willing to answer questions, easy to get a hold of, and offer unique services I haven’t seen anywhere else in the education and Google realms.”

As a 1:1 district, one notable post-audit outcome is PLSD’s ability to move forward with the district’s Chromebook take-home policy goals, and invest more time ion Google Classroom expansion initiatives. Kelsey’s team is now able to confidently make their district’s technology goals attainable, and we want to help yours do the same.

To learn more about our one-of-a-kind audits and how Amplified IT can enable your school district to better manage its Google Admin console, visit the audit service page, and reach out to our team of experts.

  • Jada Dawson
    Marketing Copywriter

  • About the Author:

    Jada joined Amplified IT in 2021 after 4 years of working as a high school English teacher in a Maryland public school system, and 7 years as a freelance copywriter, content writer, and editor. As the Marketing Copywriter, she is passionate about strategically using words to reach our clients and connect them to the benefit of our services for their classrooms and communities. When she is not writing or managing content, Jada can be found painting her next masterpiece, brushing up on her French language skills, traveling with her family, and teaching Sunday school at her church. She is an avid bubble tea drinker, and loves french fries.