Identity governance and administration solutions, like many other enterprise-scale IT solution deployments, requires a large variety of skills to achieve a successful implementation. Organizations need to ensure they have all the skills in place to succeed.
Like all major enterprise IT solution deployments, an identity governance and administration (IGA) project needs a team with a variety of skills to ensure its success.
However, unlike many enterprise IT solution deployments, IGA solutions often involve and impact a greater number of departments across the entire organization, require technical integration with many other software products, and involve a wide variety of stakeholders – both inside and outside the company.
These factors mean that IGA deployment projects typically need a broader set of skills to ensure a successful implementation. The skills needed within a project team to can be broadly divided into the following categories:
- Technical knowledge
- Business knowledge
- Soft skills
It is important to ensure that the IGA implementation team has a balance of all these skills. However, not all the skills have to be available within the organization as the team can, and should, be augmented with external consultants as well as specialists from the chosen IGA vendor.
The right people for the right jobs
Before starting a deployment project, the organization should work with a vendor and, if appropriate, other experienced consultants, to decide which skillsets are needed for the organization’s environment. Once this skills list has been established, the organization should perform a gap analysis to determine whether any of the identified skills are missing. Any gaps should be filled either by recruiting from within the organization or from external sources such as new recruits or consultants.
There are times when it is better to consider transferring employees from other departments in the organization, and times when it is better to find an outsider depending on the skillset required. For example, if the IGA implementation team lacks knowledge about the structure of the business, it is better to find somebody who has worked in the company and knows its inner workings. However, if the organization lacks someone with experience of deploying an IGA solution within the organization’s industry, then recruiting an external candidate with specific industry knowledge will be the best approach.
Skills needed: Technical skills
While it is difficult to specify exactly which skills will be required – this depends on the business’ current situation – the checklist below is a good starting point for the organization to work with the internal team, external consultants, and IGA vendor to create an initial list.
The following are technical skills that are required within the IGA implementation team:
Database: Knowledge of how to manipulate databases is necessary as IGA implementations include tasks such as the importing of identity records into the system.
Connectivity: IGA solutions need to connect to a wide variety of systems such as the HR system and business systems to collect employee and user account information, and to provision user access on an ongoing basis. Experience with connectivity standards such as REST API, XML, LDAP, SOAP, and SCIM is necessary to help with the configuration of these connections.
Programming and scripting: While many IGA solutions have advanced configuration capabilities which allow the organization to change the solution’s behavior to match their requirements, it may be necessary to have team members who are skilled in languages such as .NET or Java so that customizations can be made if they are not available in the base product.
Infrastructure: During an IGA deployment, it is necessary to have team members supporting the network, firewalls, servers, and storage as these are all critical to the implementation.
Security: As an IGA solution forms part of the wider cybersecurity protection of an organization, it is important for the implementation team to understand the other aspects of security and how all the components interact with one another. Of critical importance is an understanding of Microsoft Active Directory as this very often is a central part of identity management.
Knowledge of adjacent solutions: There are many solutions from different vendors that can sit alongside an IGA solution to help organizations protect their environments. Depending on the organization, there may be a need for members of the team to have experience of privileged access management (PAM), data access governance (DAG), user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), security and event management (SIEM) systems, or Microsoft Identity Manager (MIM) to name but a few.
Skills needed: Non-technical skills
The following non-technical skills are also required in the IGA implementation team:
Project management: An IGA implementation involves a lot of moving parts both in terms of the people involved and processes that must be carried out in a strict order. Therefore, it is important to have proper project management experience within the team to enable the project to run smoothly, on time, and within budget.
Change management: IGA projects require significant change across the organization. A change management function within the deployment team ensures that a structured approach is adopted to help make transitions as smooth as possible.
Business understanding: To be successful, an IGA project must be closely aligned with the business and must aim to solve business problems. As a result, it is necessary for some members of the team to understand how the business operates. This includes business processes, applications that are used within different departments as well as what they are used for, and industry-specific knowledge that could impact the deployment.
Compliance: Usually, a significant part of any IGA deployment business case involves managing compliance. The IGA solution needs to ensure compliance with different internal and external regulations. Members of the IGA team must have an appreciation of the relevant compliance regulations and frameworks (e.g. GDPR, ISO 27001) so that they can support the business effectively.
Skills needed: Soft skills
There are several soft skills that are needed to ensure that the project runs smoothly. These key soft skills are:
Stakeholder management: Due to the nature of an IGA solution, there are many different stakeholders involved. These include HR to provide the initial employee and contractor data, business system owners who need to grant access to their systems and verify user access, line managers to verify appropriate access for direct reports, and end users who will interact with the IGA solution on a regular basis. This large group of stakeholders needs to understand the reasons for deploying the solution, be kept informed about the status of the projects, and finally, be trained so they can use it effectively.
Managing expectations: Tied in closely with the skill of stakeholder management, being able to manage expectations of everyone involved is a critical skill. The complexity of an IGA deployment due to the many different departments involved, the list of applications that need to be integrated, and the promise of increased security, compliance, and efficiency mean that there are often high expectations from business system owners, end users, and senior management. Expectations of the various stakeholders need to be managed as visible progress may initially appear slow to them during the early implementation stages.
Communication: To successfully get buy-in from different stakeholders and manage expectations, it is critical that there are members of the IGA implementation team who have skills to address all levels of the organization from a junior technical resource right through to senior management. The communicators should be able to produce everything from quick update emails to detailed reports as well as being able to give comprehensive presentations to groups of stakeholders. In addition, they should be equipped to train end users and managers how to use the new system.
Ensure security, compliance, and efficiency benefits
IGA projects aimed at ensuring increases in security, compliance, and efficiency touch most if not all parts of the organization. To be successful, the team that comes together to implement an IGA solution needs to include a wide variety of technical, non-technical, and soft skills. If an organization does not have the full complement of skills within the team, it runs the risk of failure due to not having a full understanding of and not being able to execute on all the elements necessary.
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