Does the phrase “IAM Implementation” scare you? Some organizations are hesitant to implement an IAM solution because of the occasional horror stories about an implementation that took months or even years, or worse yet, was never completed. IAM solutions can be extremely beneficial to an organization, 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 study found that 61 percent of IT implementations take much longer than expected. To avoid becoming part of the statistic, it is beneficial to look at past failures. 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 is that an organization and their 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 exactly 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 do you expect it to go smoothly without a blueprint in place?

To create a successful blueprint, the organization must perform an assessment of their current situation, which many organizations also do not do. This includes an analysis of business priorities, business controls, business processes, system environment and execution environment. (IBM, 2009) This ensures 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 organizations 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 should be the most critical parts that help the organization to receive a quick return on investment. The organization 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 adding additional benefits and features that will help the organization.

Not Choosing the Correct Vendor

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

In addition the vendor might not have the knowledge or expertise about the technology or infrastructure that the organization uses. This can lead them to need to custom build, or even worse, figure out how to build, the solution for their organization that adds a great deal of time to the implementation. Every organization has different infrastructure in place and different needs, which is why basing the 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 organization, your IAM project may get lost and does not have top priority. Different departments have competing agendas, leading to top management to not pay close enough attention to the IAM implementation. Without top management buy in, the project may remain stagnant and will not be actively moved along to the goal. In addition, the implementation may take the attention of several employees. Top management is needed to ensure that the correct people in the organization 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 an IAM implementation is successful and does not run out of control.

  1. Ensure that there is a specific scope of work in place — Make sure that from the beginning your organization completes and assessment and creates a blueprint for exactly what is going to happen.
  2. Ensure that the vendor you are working with is a good fit for your organization and its goals — Make sure that you do the correct research and ask the correct questions to ensure that the vendor you choose has the expertise needed to deal with your particular situation
  3. 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 first most critical parts first, you will be able to track ensure that the project has a clear ending date.
  4. Get top level support — Ensure that managers are supporting your project and understand the importance of the project.