7 Reasons Why Identity Management Implementations Fail, And How to Overcome Them

April 13, 2018

There is no silver bullet to IAM implementation challenges, but there are measures you can take to avoid common issues.

Identity & Access Management has been around for a while, and it’s evolving to manage identities in new ways to manage the Internet of Things and support the adoption of Cloud. Organizations that have delayed implementing IAM have an opportunity to learn the lessons of those who have gone before you.

Here is our take on the common reasons that IAM programs fail and what you can do about them.

Reason #1: Poor Data QualityIAM is all about data – employees, contractors, customers, partners, and systems. A significant amount of information must be in the right place, in the right format, at the right time for the solution to work properly.

Remedy: Evaluate data quality early and implement a remediation strategy. Devote a good portion of your up-front analysis on getting the data right.

Reason #2: Organizational Politics. When one group puts its individual IAM needs ahead of the company’s overall IAM requirements, your implementation is bound to run into problems.

Remedy: Begin with an IAM Strategy & Roadmap that includes leadership across the organization. The road mapping process builds a common understanding and shared ownership of the plan. In addition, having an Executive Sponsor to lead the initiative will help with decision-making and a mechanism to support cross-departmental cooperation.

Reason #3: IT and Business Stakeholders are often Oil & Water. IAM is a business strategy dependent on technology that automates routine administrative tasks while enhancing security and end-user productivity. Further, it provides a platform to better serve its customers. If IT and the Business cannot work together, organizations will have a technical solution that is loosely coupled with operational challenges and delivers little value.

Remedy: Take a page out of the concurrent engineering playbook and establish teams comprised of both Business and IT stakeholders early in the project. Ensure that both sides sign off on the solution requirements and design before implementing.

Reason #4: There is no plan. You wouldn’t construct a building without a plan, yet many companies make multi-million dollar investments (bets) with little idea of the long-term goals or underlying requirements.

Remedy: Begin with an IAM Strategy & Roadmap that lays out the plan. Roadmaps link business strategy with product and technology investments. Roadmapping requires teams to get specific with respect to planned features or solution performance in terms of value for customers, both internal and external.

Reason #5: Focus exclusively on internal users. IAM usually begins to solve pressing problems with user onboarding and access management, and the external users and customers are often neglected. IAM has the potential to make the lives of external stakeholders better by giving them easy access to company systems and applications to place orders, access their data, and request services.

Remedy: Include customers in your IAM strategy and roadmap and work to ensure that their needs are represented in the project.

Reason #6: Bad Processes. When IAM technology is deployed, on- and off-boarding processes must change to be automated properly. Otherwise, you just get bad results, faster! Most organizations have onboarding processes that require workarounds to be successful, where a person compensates for a shortcoming in the process. With automation, these process gaps must be considered and addressed through a combination of technology and process changes.

Remedy: Evaluate your processes around the user lifecycle (employees, contingent workers, external users) to remove steps that are not needed, identify data quality issues, and rework those areas that are impacted by technology.

Reason #7: No Training. Despite investing large amounts of money in the IAM project, training is often ignored. No matter how much you spend on the implementation, you cannot save an IAM project left to unskilled and undertrained workers to operate and support the solution.

Remedy: Budget for training up front and schedule time for training to occur during the requirements and design phases of the project.

These key challenges were identified through our experiences delivering Identity Management solutions across a range of industry verticals. We assessed IAM practices through the customer’s eyes and through the views of both implementers and business stake­holders. By having these multiple perspectives, we developed a complete gauge of which challenges were, in fact, common to IDM implementation regardless of business size, industry, or location.

Identity Management excellence relies on an organization’s ability to offer a user experience that cre­ates the most value for the business, and in the process, provides employees, managers, and owners with satisfying returns on their investments of time, money, and labor. Finally, we want to state our case for opening communication channels within organiza­tions of all sizes. The barrier to overcoming these challenges stems from the fact that organizations frequently lack a firm grasp of the issues they are facing because they are reluctant to ask the hard questions and engage stakeholders across the business. Facing these challenges head-on will mitigate this risk and identify new business opportunities to drive true value for the organization and its cus­tomers.

Learn more about IAM Project Challenges & Recovery in our on-demand webinar. You'll learn about the reasoning and issues involved with these projects, as well as the key questions that were addressed by large-scale IAM deployments. Find out what to consider, the most common project challenges/pitfalls, and how to avoid them. The session will include mini-case studies where attendees can hear how other businesses worked through difficult situations. Click here to watch the session now.

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Also, be sure to download my new, FREE digital book entitled Reimagining Identity Management: How To Design, Choose And Implement The Right IAM Solution For Your Business.

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