Ensuring that users have the necessary access and appropriate permission levels for applications is a common pain point for organizations. For some, permissions are issued manually via an identity directory service, such as Microsoft Active Directory. In others, automated user provisioning through their identity directory service is used for integrated applications, while permissions to other applications are issued manually. Regardless of what paradigm an organization is working with, an admin somewhere must issue permissions to users to access needed systems. Unfortunately, many organizational identity directory services like Active Directory are set up as a disparate patchwork that doesn’t offer easy management or visibility into who has access to what in an organization. At the same time, this directory doesn’t easily synch with all necessary applications for team members to complete their tasks. Automated user provisioning and secure access management are within reach for enterprises. The added efficiency and time savings are worth time spent implementing solutions that empower teams to give users access to every application they need, when they need it.
When a new employee joins an organization, it kicks off a fully manual provisioning process. Let’s say a new team member in an HR recruitment role needs access to organizational applications like Teams, their email instance, and OneDrive. However, they also need access and permissions to a recruitment application the department uses to track where applicants are in a pipeline.
The manual paradigm for Active Directory
In many organizations, setting up access was—and sometimes is—a manual process. HR would create a new record in their employee database, and then send a ticket to the IT team. The IT team would then have to manually create an account for the user in Active Directory, and hope that all provided information was correct. After manually entering in the new team member’s data (and hoping it was also typed in correctly), that user would then need to be added to various Active Directory groups based on their department, job title and assigned attributes that allow employees access to various organizational systems.
Gaps with other applications
That was just the process to get the new team member added into Active Directory. If an organization’s Active Directory instance can’t integrate with other applications to log users in, that manual process would need to be repeated across those applications to give users access to needed systems.
Sometimes IT admins manage permissions in other applications, and other times department heads are the application admins, leading to further identity sprawl and potential attack vectors for organizations.
The lack of control over who should access which application when, means IT teams have a blind spot that bad actors can exploit to access critical organizational data.
On top of that, anytime roles change, those changes would need to be reflected across a user's unique set of permissions in both places.
Disadvantages of manual provisioning
Manually provisioning users is obviously not an ideal scenario for organizations or the teams that do the provisioning and opens the door to some distinct disadvantages.
- Multiple systems
- For organizations that need users to have permissions across various applications, admins must manage and provision that access across multiple systems. Managing the access of hundreds or thousands of employees across more than one system is a daunting, if not never-ending task. Additionally, with multiple systems there is not a single source of truth for who should have access to certain applications, further fragmenting visibility.
- Human errors
- If there’s a miscommunication, a user’s name is spelled wrong or if there’s a typo, then that error can be copied over multiple times. On top of that, if teams are copying an existing employee’s groups, attributes and privileges and just modifying the data to include the new employee’s information, the new employee could accidentally be given more privileges than necessary for their current role.
- Using squeezed IT team bandwidth
- Provisioning, user role changes and offboarding team members are tedious tasks that take your IT team away from more valuable activities.
Automated user provisioning across Active Directory and applications
Automated user provisioning simply gives users access to organizational resources based on their assigned role and permission levels in an organization’s identity management system.
If an organization’s identity management system is also integrated with an access management tool, that automated provisioning can extend across applications that wouldn’t typically be synched with Active Directory.
In our example of the new employee in the HR recruitment position, once they are added to the organization’s identity management platform their permission levels and access to organizational resources and applications will automatically be granted based on their role. Any changes to their position in the identity management system will adjust their permissions and access levels.
The advantages of automated user provisioning across applications
To the relief of many HR and IT teams, this automation is often ready and available to be used to streamline an entire organization’s onboarding, cross-boarding, and off-boarding employee lifecycle.
- Seamless onboarding:
- Automated user provisioning can make employee onboarding seamless for HR and IT teams and give users access to the applications they need directly from the start.
- Enhanced productivity
- Instead of spending time on manually provisioning access to multiple systems, IT teams can spend time on other tasks and initiatives.
- Fewer errors
- Any manual process introduces the possibility of errors. When those processes are automated and can be easily viewed through a single application, the chance of mistakes being introduced is significantly diminished.
- Improved security
- For organizations looking to maintain the principle of least privilege, automated user provisioning helps ensure that you grant users only the bare minimum of privileges in networks, systems and applications needed to execute their assigned tasks.
Visibility, savings in time and energy provisioning users, as well as better control over who has access to organizational resources and applications through automated user provisioning offers a solid foundation for better securing your users.
Active Directory paired with One Identity Active Roles and OneLogin can relieve that pain point of manual provisioning, and seamlessly work together to provide users with access to resources both on-premises and in the cloud.