With increased numbers of contingent workers and non-billable resources joining the ranks at companies across the globe, identity management is becoming a critical part of operations. Organizations are seeking full visibility of their entire workforce – whether they are full time or temporary – and tracking the who, what, where and when is essential to reduce risk. Contingent workers come and go far more frequently than permanent staff, and can have other special requirements that necessitate different security levels and asset management practices. When selecting a software solution to help manage your contingent workforce, it is important to consider your identity management needs and determine the role your chosen solution will play in your processes.
What is Identity Management?
Identity management is a means of tracking and administration of individuals within your business systems.
This process involves authenticating workers, providing authorization and access rights, issuing assets, monitoring workers’ tenure at your organization and deactivating resources properly when their assignments end. An identity management solution allows administrators to provide only the access necessary for a resource to do his or her job. These rights can be defined by role or by individual, and can be enforced both through physical access methods, including keycards and security badges, and virtual access to information systems using passwords and account configuration.
Many companies have well-established processes for on-boarding new employees, whether they are permanent or temporary, but off-boarding is an important aspect of identity management as well. It is important to consider a resource’s departure when selecting a solution to support your process. A solid solution enables administrators to associate assets with a resource and schedule access removal, so that recovery occurs promptly when the resource’s assignment ends.
Every organization has its own methods for handling these essential identity management tasks. But by using a software solution – whether a standalone identity management system or the features of a full-blown Vendor Management System (VMS) – you can consistently and accurately activate, deactivate and reactivate resources.
The Benefits of Identity Management
Formalized identity management processes can have a significant impact on your business. A robust identity management solution allows you to track your entire headcount on a global level, which gives deeper insight into operations. This allows you to identify potential process improvements, pinpoint effective resources and limit your organization’s exposure to loss and IP risk. Different countries have different workforce management requirements, and by selecting a globally-enabled solution, you will be able to address these needs and create a single repository of workforce data.
Many identity management solutions also integrate fully with existing human resources (HR) and access provisioning systems. This level of integration boosts productivity by eliminating repetitive tasks and duplicate records. Through this integration, you can build a truly complete data set, which helps meet compliance, audit and analytics requirements in addition to the efficiencies gained.
An identity management solution also increases organizational security by accurately tracking individuals and their deployment histories. The system can also ensure timely account deactivation and asset retrieval when a resource leaves the organization. By implementing a fully integrated solution, your organization can easily generate a complete audit trail of all resource activities and outstanding assets. Your identity management software will act as a gatekeeper, extending the functionality of your internal business systems to your contingent workforce and creating a complete, end-to-end solution.
Choosing an Identity Management Solution
The ideal identity management system offers high levels of security and control, and allows you to:
- Accurately track individuals as individuals and eliminate duplicates
- Monitor deployment history
- Enforce tenure and leave period policies, including effective off-boarding
- Coordinate asset assignments and recovery
- Address varied global workforce management requirements
Many organizations start with a standalone identity management system as a first step in adopting a traditional VMS, or use the tool in conjunction with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) program. When reviewing your options, look for a solution that can help manage workload by enabling users to assign tasks to multiple resources. Tracking all tasks and deadlines within a single system leads to greater consistency and accountability for everyone involved in the process. Also be sure to confirm that the solution can support the management of required HR activities like background checks, drug tests, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and badging.
Asset management is another key consideration. All assets that are assigned to a resource – including laptops, tablets and other equipment – should be tracked within the identity management system. When you assign a scheduled retrieval date based on a resource’s projected end date, it should be easy for your team to locate and secure assets upon the resource’s departure. Not only is this important from a cost-containment perspective, but it also has a direct effect on overall security and the protection of intellectual property.
A cloud-based identity management system offers the most flexibility for your organization by allowing a service provider – rather than your internal IT team – to manage the application and its infrastructure. This offers many benefits:
- Reduced cost to implement the solution, which is accessed through a web portal
- Lower cost of ownership over time than a traditional licensed product, which requires periodic upgrades at additional expense
- Elimination of server and hardware costs by transitioning the management of the application to an external service provider
- Coordinated access between the identity management system and your other HR and provisioning systems through single sign-on functionality, which simplifies access for end users
- Full integration with your HR and access provisioning systems through web services
As the global contingent workforce continues to grow, a solid identity management strategy with supportive software becomes more and more important. A fully integrated solution can reduce risk and maximize your company’s investment. When selecting the ideal identity management applications for your business, consider your immediate needs but keep the future in mind. By selecting a system that offers both an effective identity management solution and complete VMS functionality you will be well equipped to manage your entire workforce.
About the Author
Peter Parks is vice president of product management at Provade, which delivers a vendor management system for global workforce spend management.