Does the phrase “IAM Implementation” scare you? Some organisations are hesitant to implement an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution because of the occasional horror stories about an implementation that took months or even years, or worse yet, was never completed. However, IAM solutions can be extremely beneficial to an organisation, once they are implemented, but it is that road to implementation that scares many people away.

The reality is that many IAM implementations do fail, because of common mistakes. One recent study found that 61 percent of IT implementations take much longer than expected (Krigsman, 2011). To avoid becoming part of this statistic, it is beneficial to look at past failures. That said, the following are some of the common reasons why implementations were prolonged or failed.

No Scope Of Work

First off, a common reason for failure of an implementation is that an organisation and its vendor do not plan out a scope of work. This means that they are not exactly sure where they are going with the project and what needs to be completed to constitute success.

Without a road map of exactly what needs to be completed by when, the project will take on a mind of its own and will continue for months without an end date in sight. Just as if you were constructing a building, how would you achieve success for it to go smoothly without a blueprint in place?

To create a successful blueprint, the organisation must perform an assessment of its current situation, which many organisations do not do. This includes an analysis of business priorities, business controls, business processes, system environment and execution environment (IBM, 2009). This will ensure that not only do you have a blueprint or scope of work, but that it is accurate for your specific situation and needs.

Attempting To Implement Everything At Once

In addition to not having a scope of work, many organisations try to implement everything at once. This makes the project implementation extremely large and can make it spin out of control. By implementing everything in one large implementation, modules get intertwined and out of control more readily. The project needs to be broken into different phases with clear sections to the implementation.

First, address the most critical parts of the plan that help the organisation receive a quick return on investment. The organisation should also make sure to start small and test the solution with a select group of users first, to ensure that it is working correctly before it is rolled out to everyone. From there they can then build upon the solution by adding additional benefits and features which will help the organisation.

Not Choosing The Correct Vendor

Often, organisations choose their vendor based largely on price, which can lead to them not being the best fit for the organisation. The vendor might not have the same vision or goal for the solution as does the organisation.

The vendor might not have the knowledge or expertise about the technology or infrastructure that the organisation uses. This can lead to a custom build, or even worse, figure out how to build, the solution for your organisation, which adds a great deal of time to the implementation. Every organisation has different infrastructure in place and different needs; which is why basing your choice solely on price can lead to many issues.

No Buy In From Top Management

Another major reason why implementations fail is because there is little to no support from top management. Among the many projects and initiatives taking place at your organisation, your IAM project may get lost in the shuffle and not receive the priority it deserves. Different departments have competing agendas, which can lead to top management not paying close enough attention to the IAM implementation.

Without top management buy in, the project may stagnate and not get moved forward. In addition, the implementation may take the attention of several employees. Top management is needed to ensure that the correct people in the organisation are working day to day to ensure that the project is getting completed.

Keys To A Successful Implementation

After looking at all these reasons for failure, an IAM implementation might seem a little scary. To make it plain and simple, here are the ways to easily ensure that your IAM implementation is successful and does not get out of control.

  • Ensure that there is a specific scope of work in place: Make sure that from the beginning your organisation completes an assessment and creates a blueprint for exactly what is going to happen.
  • Ensure that the vendor you are working with is a good fit for your organisation and its goals: Make sure that you do the correct research and ask the right questions to ensure that the vendor you choose has the expertise needed to deal with your particular situation.
  • Implement in phases: Trying to implement the solution all at once can lead to confusion and a never-ending project. By implementing in phases with the most critical parts first, you will be able to track ensure that the project has a clear ending date.
  •  Get top level support: Ensure that managers are supporting your project and understand the importance of the project.