Though small businesses often don’t have a large budget or a great deal of internal financial resources, there are some areas of their IT management that can be easily improved. In a small to mid-size organization, there is often a small IT department, if any at all. This means that account and password management issues are often handled by maybe one or two employees. While this can be done, it is most likely not efficient and requires near full time work from these employees.

Identity and access management issues in small business

One process in particular that could use improvement is manual account management. Think of how much is involved with managing employee accounts even for a small business. When an employee joins the organization he needs accounts created and someone needs to manually create these accounts in each system and application and create credentials for the employee. Then, if the employee changes positions his access rights frequently need to be modified. If he needs to update his information — for instance, moving or getting married — this also needs to manually be changed.

Think of the process an employee needs to go through to request access or other changes to their network account. They need to email their manager to ask for permission for a change, which then often needs to be passed along to yet another manager to validate the request and finally sent to IT, or another person in charge, to implement the account changes.

Finally, when the employee is then no longer with the organization their accounts need to be manually disabled in each system. This can also cause issues with security. Small business need to ensure that only the correct people have access to secure systems. When an employee is no longer with the company managers often forget to remove the employee’s access in every system and application the employee has an account in. This step is often overlooked and ex-employees are left with all or partial access rights. All of this work often requires an employee to handle account management full time, sometimes even several employees are needed for a medium-sized organization.

So what is IAM and how can it be vital to small business?

Identity and access management (IAM) solutions allow businesses of any size to implement such processes as automating their user account lifecycle. This eliminates the need to have full- or part-time employees performing these manual tasks, or requiring an existing employee or manager to handle these extra responsibilities.

An automated account management process allows a manager, IT employee, HR or any authorized person to simply enter the employee’s information into a source system, check off which systems they need access to, and have all accounts automatically created. This also assists with any changes that happen throughout the year. Once that change is made in the source system, all other connected systems are automatically updated, without any manual intervention needed. Without the need to manually make these changes, the requirement for staff members to focus on account management is eliminated. Additionally, the company doesn’t need a highly technical employee to handle account management. Any designated employee can securely and easily make changes.

Newer automated account management solutions also offer newer features, such as workflow management (WFM). This allows employees and managers to utilize a web portal, independently and easily, to request access to extra applications, rights within applications, distribution groups and office facilities, amongst other items. The approval steps for requests can be easily defined through a highly advanced and configurable workflow process. WFM ensures that after approval is given, the request is implemented automatically in the network.

How can this save small businesses money?

While small and mid-size businesses are probably not managing hundreds of user accounts, automating the process can actually save them a great deal of money. There is no longer a need for highly technical staff to handle these tasks full time, and if it was a manager who was handing it, then they can focus on their jobs rather than repetitive manual account management tasks. Employees can also easily request resources, changes and access without needing to continuously bother a manager to ensure that it is being carried out.

Overall, identity and access management solutions have been around for a while, but many of the newer features of these solutions can be extremely beneficial to smaller businesses. Your small to mid-size organization can easily save time and money by utilizing these solutions to automate the account management lifecycle.