The Three Fatal Flaws of IAM: Is Your Project Guilty of One?

Identity and access management is hard. I don’t think anyone would argue with that statement. After all we have the whole world as evidence. It seems that everywhere you turn you run into another company in the fifth year of their two-year IAM project, an organization that is way over budget and only marginally closer to reaching their IAM objectives, or the company that’s just struggling to keep its head above water from an IAM perspective. Of course there are companies that have gotten it right, but that’s not who I’m writing to. I would like to talk to the rest of us…those of us that can’t seem to jump off of the hamster wheel of endless searching for the right solution, continued ineffective reliance on manual processes, and running from one fire to the next only to see two more flare up.

There are tons of reasons an IAM project may fail. They range across everything from staff turnover and lack of adequate planning, to selecting the wrong technology and shrinking budgets. Some of those we can help with but some we can’t – and honestly no IAM vendor can. But in our years of helping organizations “get IAM right”, or what we like to call IAM for the Real World, We’ve seen three common mistakes that are almost certain to doom an IAM project to failure:

  1. Death by one-off – the situation where multiple solutions from multiple vendors provide similar functionality, but in multiple pockets of the infrastructure. Or said differently, the “putting out the fire that burning hottest” approach to IAM.
  2. One size fits none – the situation where an organization engages a big platform vendor for an enterprise solution that, at first glance, will meet all of its IAM needs. But a few years into the project the organization finds that it is still performing too much of its IAM manually, buying too many point solutions with siloed functionality and pumping in too much effort with no end in sight.
  3. Provisioning only – similar to one size fits none but with the difference that a focus on the most obvious IAM challenge (provisioning) typically will not adequately address more advanced principles such as governance.

Perhaps you’re guilty of one or more of these. Take heart, so I everyone else. But there are actionable things you can do to correct the course and move your IAM project from one destined for failure to one that allows you to move forward with the things that you need IAM for in the first-place, namely achieving your organizational objectives.

I’ve written a little e-book called Strategies to ensure the success for your IAM project that talks about the common mistakes people make in IAM and lays out a recipe to front-load your IAM project for success.

And if you want to dive even deeper, with some real-world examples and insight from one of our IAM experts, watch this webcast Ensuring the Success of Your IAM Project hosted by Phil Allen.

IAM is always going to be hard, but it doesn’t have to be a failure.