Managing user churn on external tools

One of the best things about starting a company now is the sheer wealth of tools available to effectively outsource your entire infrastructure, outsource corporate systems eg. AWS, Github, Crittercism, Flurry, Gmail, Google Drive etc. The problem of course is user churn – people come and people go and someone has to maintain the hygiene of these external accounts.

Most companies of a certain size have a HR database somewhere – so that may allow (or it is possible to expose an API) to check if an employee still exists. Also it’s usually companies of a certain size that this issue becomes a little more problematic.

Unfortunately, the tools usually don’t expose an API for your to query users that belong to a particular company or organization. They usually do have a WebUI but that’s pretty manual.

One way I’ve tackled this problem is to have a simple MySQL database with a simple PHPMyAdmin (see to store a copy of each tool’s user list. So each table would correspond to one tool’s user list. Then there will be a simple cron job that runs each day to check users against the HR database. I had my scripts written in Perl (embarrassingly so but it was much easier to do so given the bindings to internal stuff) and it would send out a daily email for each tool of who has since left the company.

Once you have this set up then it’s a breeze since all you need is to review the latest email and start removing them from the tools.

The problem is performing the first data import. PHPMyAdmin allows you to import via CSV but you need the first CSV list. If the tool provider has an API then you’re good but a lot don’t so you’re stuck with a WebUI. One way is to use Selenium WebDriver to do just that. I have put the script (sans my actual password) for getting Apple Developer accounts (if you’re an admin) here: . Note – Apple may change their WebUI anytime so you’ll have to modify accordingly but you get the idea.

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