Identity and Access Management (IAM) projects are often initiated due to an audit finding or security review. These projects have limited management focus — really, if we’re honest about it, a compliance driven project is launched to fix a specific problem in the business. The project is expected to be delivered on time and on budget, and is wrapped after addressing a specific business need.
An Access Governance program doesn’t lend itself to this type of tactical approach. Access Governance needs a strategy, one that will help drive initiatives over the mid- to long-term. This is true even when (or perhaps especially when) an initial project is launched due to a compliance problem.
Access Governance has a longer life cycle than audit or security reviews, which are typically annual events. This is because access is something that crosses business boundaries, requires complex systems integration, and is dynamically changing as the business changes.
Business or IT strategies can help programs like Access Governance get established and funded. A strategy for access can critically assess business needs, develop roadmaps for addressing those needs, and help management to set performance measures.
When setting out to develop an Access Governance strategy, there are some key activities to be considered:
- Know the audience — Is the CIO the primary reader of the strategy, or will it be used by multiple executives and managers? A clear understanding of the business audience is crucial before embarking on the development of a strategy.
- Identify relevant business goals — What is the organization trying to accomplish? What are the business goals for the next three to five years? Read the business plan and look for ways that access management can support those goals.
- Link Access Governance to business strategy — This is the key to the process and it must be done well. Explaining how a program of Access Governance helps move the business forward is critical. But linking Access Governance to business goals needs to be realistic and defendable if the strategy is going to be adopted.
- Identify champions — The strategy needs to be built with full support of those business leaders that will receive the benefits of Access Governance. Make them part of the strategy development process and listen to their input. You’ll be rewarded with loyal supporters of the program.
- Develop a readable strategy — There is nothing worse than a dense, technical document passing itself off as a strategy. Strategies need to be filled with business language. They must use terms that the audience understands, and they need to be structured in a way that encourages reading. Costs need to be identified and provided in both summary and detailed forms. Illustrations and models are key, and a realistic project roadmap diagram is mandatory.
Once the strategy is approved, a program for Access Governance can be developed. Soon, priority projects will begin to deliver strategic results, and your supporters will realize the measurable benefits of having a strategy guide this crucial program.