Identity Management Systems: Building a Business Case for Your Enterprise

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-04-11
 
 
 

Whats Driving Identity Management Projects Today?

Governance, risk and compliance pressures primarily drive today's identity management strategies. Failure to control access to sensitive data and applications can impact a company's brand reputation, stock price and compliance posture. Demand for identity management is also being fueled by the amount of rapid employee change faced by global companies. With employment turnover rates higher than ever, frequent mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, and industry downsizing, the ability to rapidly grant, change or remove employees' and contingency workers' access is critical.  

Whats Driving Identity Management Projects Today?

Building a Business Case is Essential to Securing Budget Approval

A few projects can be justified simply based on the need to address compliance or security risks before disaster happens. However, in a world of financial uncertainty where there are many competing technology investments, it's more important than ever to show financial justification for your identity management strategy and direction. While the needs and benefits of identity management may seem self-apparent, a carefully constructed business case that demonstrates real ROI can help you unlock funding for identity management projects.

Building a Business Case is Essential to Securing Budget Approval

Business Case, Step 1: Conduct Internal Needs Assessment

Begin the evaluation process by first determining what are the most pressing identity management issues or opportunities your organization faces. For example, are you spending too much time and money on compliance and audit processes? Are business users unproductive because they are waiting to gain access to critical systems? Is your help desk being inundated with service requests? Understanding the drivers of identity management with your organization at the very beginning will help determine the rest of the steps in the process.

Business Case, Step 1: Conduct Internal Needs Assessment

Step 2: Determine Baseline Costs

Establishing a baseline for analysis means understanding the processes that are currently in place to address existing business challenges. Quantify how many and what types of resources are currently being spent on identity management processes (including manual labor costs). By creating a process map that thoroughly documents each part of the process—including which functions are done manually, which are automated, how long they take and so on—you will ultimately make it possible to understand how the work gets done and what costs are associated with it.

Step 2: Determine Baseline Costs

Step 3: Set Project Goals

You need to formally define your goals of the project and the expected benefits to the organization, keeping in mind that the people who will make your funding decisions are generally business-oriented rather than technology-minded. They will want to hear about the goals and objectives in terms of what they mean to business users and business processes and what their impact will be on the overall cost structure of the organization. It is also important that you are realistic with your goal setting, which can mean starting small and showing incremental value over time.

Step 3: Set Project Goals

Step 4: Build the Financial Model

Estimate how much your project will cost (include the technology purchase, required services and the cost of personnel involved) and then show where and how the project will save the organization time and money. You should also provide realistic time frames for when the organization can expect to see the benefits of the investment. The key is to align the financial model with benchmarks that management expects to see. Payback period and ROI are typical metrics used by many organizations, and they are easy calculations to include as part of a financial model.

Step 4: Build the Financial Model

What Do You Need in Your Identity Management Package?

Once you have the business case created, you need to carefully evaluate each identity management solution to make sure it can address your needs. Identity management solutions need to deliver access services efficiently and cost-effectively while meeting compliance requirements around security and privacy. They also must be able to automate the management of access to applications whether deployed on premises, in virtualized environments or in cloud environments. Pay special attention to the amount of services required to implement the solution you are evaluating based on talking to other users who have been through the process.

What Do You Need in Your Identity Management Package?

Paying Off the Business Case: Create Opportunities for Quick Wins

Quick wins—or less-complex projects that can be deployed in just a couple of months while still improving productivity and reducing costs—build credibility for identity management projects and help lock in support and additional funding for further development. Quick wins can be gained by automating processes such as periodic access reviews of critical applications, password reset and automated provisioning of high-usage applications.

Paying Off the Business Case: Create Opportunities for Quick Wins

Demonstrating Your ROI

Once you get the green light from your executive team, make sure you measure progress throughout the process, evaluate the results and report back to the right stakeholders. By continually monitoring and measuring the cost and time savings, you will be able to quickly report back any ROI that you capture. This will help you not only build the case for any incremental projects supporting your identity management strategy but also showcase your ability to help your company become more efficient.

Demonstrating Your ROI

Help Is on the Way: External Resources

Systems integrators, technology vendors and industry analysts can all provide resources to help build the business case for an identity management project, including tools for creating the financial model for the project. Most SIs have a methodology for project planning and deployment that will gather a lot of the data required to support a business case. Technology vendors are also likely to have tools available to help calculate the various potential savings based on the size and scope of your project and the processes being automated.

Help Is on the Way: External Resources

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