3 Critical Success Factors for Every IAM Project

July 19, 2017

Many organizations are lulled into a false sense of security when building out an Identity and Access Management solution.

Much like the story of the "unsinkable" Titanic, the waters may appear calm but the ice you see on the surface is really an iceberg that threatens to sink your project. Considering more than half of IAM projects fail the first time, do you really want to be the captain of next Titanic?

Probably not!

Here are 3 things you can do right now that will help your initiative be successful.

3 Critical Success Factors for Every IAM Project

1. Start with a Narrow Scope

Scope the first phase to focus only on the IAM Foundation, which includes the HR connector, Identity Store, and Authentication Directory.

  • HR connector
    The most important building block of your IAM system is the connector between your
    HR system and your IAM solution. The connector between your HR system and the Identity Store is the heart of your solution and drives downstream user account creation and access.
  • Identity Store
    • Identify what attributes are critical to provision users and access (should be less than 20 fields)
    • Only synchronize what you need
    • Keep the structure of the ID Store simple
  • Authentication Directory
    Access to the network, file shares, and printers is the bread and butter of user access. Most organizations use Active Directory as their Authentication Directory. The key here is to keep it simple, synchronize only what you need for authentication and authorization, and make sure to build enough capacity to handle peak user loads.


2. Address Data Quality Early

Data Quality is the silent but deadly killer of IAM projects. Data quality is often overlooked and will wreak havoc with your users and applications if it is not addressed. Here are the key steps to get started with data quality:

  • Identify Critical fields across personal, organizational, and financial data
  • Validate data (Availability, Completeness, Accuracy, Timeliness, Consistency)
  • Identify quality issues and remediate before you begin/during development


3. Include Business Process Re-Design  

Once you are live, your HR process will drive your user access and provisioning activities. This new operating model requires your processes and technology to work closely together or the system will not deliver on its promised value. In particular, On- and Off-boarding processes must be aligned with the technical solution to function properly and deliver a good end user experience.

  • Use process mapping tools and techniques to document current processes
  • Create future state process design with proper integration into IDM solution
  • Consider opportunities for process improvement (Current State vs. Future State)
  • Bridge gaps between process and IT/IDM teams
  • Focus on Onboarding and Off-boarding processes first

With these three critical success factors in place, your organization is much more likely to succeed the first time out of the gate. A demonstrated win also attracts the necessary investment from the business to get the rest of the enterprise up and running. Just like in the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams, if you build it right, they will come!

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