identity governance and administration

Why does your organization need identity governance and administration? Let’s use the creation of this blog as an example: It was commissioned by someone in the Indianapolis area and I outlined the blog on the east coast of the US; Then, it was edited in Microsoft 365 on a keyboard in an extra bedroom/office on the west coast of the United States; and finalized with input from subject matter experts (SMEs) residing in various locations in the U.S. and Europe. Then the blog was posted to a third-party, cloud-based blogging app that plugs into the Quest/One Identity web infrastructure that then delivers it to the screen in front of you via your ISP and your wifi connection. 

This is one of the simpler things in modern life – reading a blog. But consider what it took to get it here in front of you: all the connecting points – laptop to wifi, the ISP connection to cloud; multiple users (human and machine) using various platforms and security configs to access and approve; converting the content from MS365 to the blog app and adding in the images created by another set of users and machines. That’s just a blog post. Now, think about the complexity and elevated security necessary to do critical tasks, such as making or receiving payments or protecting proprietary data that is shared by C-suite decision makers based all around the world. 

With users and identities all over the place (literally) and multiple environments involved, how do you manage user permissions – including admin and privileged-user permissions, secure user access and enforce all necessary policies for compliance? In a word - governance. Specifically, identity governance and administration (IGA). 

The following nine reasons for identity governance and administration demonstrate how you can bring consistency, compliance and streamlined provisioning to user access. They also help to prove to auditors that your organization has taken the proper steps to protect data and provide transparency in the execution of decisions from leadership to the field and back again. 

Nine reasons why identity governance and administration (IGA) is necessary

1. Risk management and improved security 

The modern IT world is fraught with threats and vulnerabilities. Ask any CISO about this and they’ll tell you their main objectives are to reduce their organization’s risk and continually improve security to protect against emerging threats. An identity governance and administration (IGA) solution is one of the best vehicles to achieve those objectives. It’s a key component of how a Zero Trust or Least Privileged model is deployed and maintained. Naturally, Zero Trust delivers elevated security by eliminating unnecessary access permissions, allowing users to only have access to what they need to do their daily job. 

Also, by eliminating ghost or orphaned accounts for users that are no longer employed by the company or a machine-user that is no longer in use, a CISO can drastically reduce risk. With the emphasis on getting new users set up in an environment, too often there is little credence given to shutting down accounts that are no longer needed. These accounts are like an unlocked guestroom in the expansive mansion that is your IT infrastructure. They are just begging for a threat actor to come on in and take up residence. 

Furthermore, an IGA solution makes sure that separation of duties (SoD) policies are followed and the no one individual can complete a critical task by themselves. It’s a check and balance policy. An example of this is the person that sets up payees in a system is not also the person who approves payment to payees. This prevents subterfuge by internal bad actors as well as makes it more difficult for an external threat actor from performing harmful actions, even if they were able to breach your IT environment.  

2. Audit compliance 

Audits – as popular as getting a tooth pulled. They are a necessary part of business life. And as with the regular use of dental floss, an identity governance and administration (IGA) solution can ease the anxiety caused by audits and simplify the preparation for them. With confidence that policies and processes are followed with the use of workflows, approval processes and automated tasks, your organization can easily achieve and maintain compliance with a range of industry and governmental regulations, including SOX, HIPAA and GDPR. Critical to compliance is the use of roles-based permissions – setting least-privilege access rights for each defined position in your organization. You can cut the cost of compliance, reduce risk and achieve consistency across your hybrid environment as well as your entire organization. 

3. Adapt to business changes 

Whether it’s an acquisition, a reorganization or an expansion into a new market, with an identity governance and administration (IGA) solution, the adjustments to these changes are smooth, as much of it can be automated based on user roles and associated access permissions. This applies to large corporate-level changes as well as individual user changes. With this IGA solution capability, the interval to complete the changes is greatly compressed. 

4. Reduces budget costs 

The efficiency that comes with the processes of an identity governance and administration (IGA) solution enables an organization to reallocate precious IT funds to higher-priority needs. Operational costs are reduced, and IT staff spends less time executing mundane tasks because they are automated. Time consuming processes such as password resets, recertification campaigns and user-authorization tasks can be offloaded from the IT staff. Additionally, consistent – and easy-to-use – dashboards speed up decision making and all manner of processes, thus saving time and money. 

5. Streamlines internal servicing 

Everyone needs a role. It’s how we fit into the overall strategy and contribute. It’s also how identity governance and administration solutions can help accelerate internal services and optimize productivity throughout the tenure of a user at your organization. Roles with predefined access to resources they need to do their job – based on the least-privileged model – can put a new user to work on their first day, elevates accountability and cuts down on risk by knowing who has access to which resources and why. IGA solutions also deliver flexibility by supporting user access-request capabilities that adhere to approval workflows. It also delivers session-control policies, which starts and terminates user access and enables a user to perform an ad-hoc task that is outside of the normal duties. IGA also facilitates self-service password resets, which can save significant help-desk time and drastically reduce call volume. 

6. Automation 

To fully leverage IGA benefits, your organization can automate routine and mundane tasks, and accelerate access-approval processes. The time and money savings can be significant. The larger, more complex your organization, the bigger the savings and increase in efficiency. Look for an IGA solution that includes templated, automated workflows that can accurately reflect your actual business processes. Task automation also can eliminate manual processes that are more prone to human-input errors, which in turn can make your environment more secure and efficient. Also, it can drastically shorten the time it takes to get a new user (aka a ‘joiner’) connected to the right resources to be productive. Additionally, when someone leaves the company, automated processes can shut down access and keep your user-data tidy and your environment safe, but adaptable. Deep integration into Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions also ensure governance is extended to externally facing corporate assets..  

7. Non-employee identity monitoring 

The way of the world is outsourcing for expertise and scalability, which means your organization depends on contractors and third-party providers to get work done. But with this comes with risk. As shown in several recent breaches, including Okta and Microsoft,, it can impact your business and customer confidence. Identity governance and administration (IGA) solutions can simplify and secure access for your non-employee workers, including non-human machine users and the ever-increasing number of SaaS apps we all leverage today. IGA solutions can apply a Zero Trust model for all users, but it is especially important with third-party providers to maintain cybersecurity levels. We can mandate certain measures are taken by our contractors and partners to access our network, but we need to be extra cautious as we don’t control their home environment, devices or security practices outside or our network. With the monitoring and session control capabilities of an IGA solution, you can take all necessary steps to protect your data, people and intellectual property, as well as ensure cyber resiliency. 

8. Workforce empowerment 

After cybersecurity, efficiency and productivity are the main objectives of leveraging an identity governance and administration (IGA) solution. When you empower the business to safely make access decisions for their team members, and then enable those team members to get their work done with minimal amount of friction and in the manner to which they are accustomed, you can accelerate how you do business. When they have self-service identity capabilities, such as password reset and automated access request functions, you can maintain productivity and even expand it with flexible, yet secure, access. Most importantly, you can deliver all this and exceed compliance requirements with a properly deployed IGA solution.  

9. Reduced complexity 

Without an identity governance and administration solution, the head-spinning mix of platforms and environments, multiple cloud and on-prem versions of similar applications, and unmanaged identity data stored all over the place, you have a daunting challenge. But you can reduce the complexity and centralize management with a unified identity security platform, of which an IGA is the core component. From the CISO to the newest warehouse fulfillment clerk, you can simplify and secure how they work and allow everyone to focus more on their core objectives because all identity data and permissions info is managed from one solution.  

As with this blog post, created by a team spread across two continents and multiple apps and devices, today even simple work processes are collaborations that require secure and flexible access to the resources needed to complete the task.  

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