What makes an IAM project successful? A question that must be understood before taking on any complex multi-component integration that spans across people, process, and technology.
IAM projects are hard. They are hard because the objective is not just technical, it involves evaluation of business process implementations, it involves adoption to change. They are hard because it requires integrating with existing data on various systems be it legacy or modern. They are hard because IAM systems are powerful in that they can change data as they reside in a native system. It is hard because the risk of not diligently planning, designing, and implementing can be disastrous. They are hard because we need to resist the urge to start building something without requirements discussions, or a good understanding of the capability and deliverables. But a successful IAM program adds immense value to the business. Organizations that are looking to optimize business value are looking to tackle all of the above and more to reap fruits a successful IAM program yields.
Below are some key aspects to ensuring IAM Project Success
Communication and Expectations
It is all about clear communication and expectation setting. During the initial phases of requirements gathering and design discussions, open and transparent communication is a must. As an expert in IAM implementations, take the lead to communicate when there are gaps in the capability requested. Talk out if specific requirements can be met a different way to achieve the same business objective, or to think about passing out the required capability to another cycle if there is a time or resource limitation. Or set the expectation around additional ‘X’ needed if the request is to be pursued. This ‘X’ may be additional funding for resources to develop custom capability, added project deliverable risk, etc.
Communicate honestly and execute diligently on exceptions that are set. It always helps to continuously provide quick and honest feedback. If a project is to fail trying to accomplish too much given the time and resource, it was going to fail anyway, best to keep key stakeholder apprised of the risks up front — the frequent the communication around progress and risks, with clarity, the better the outcome.
Managing clear communications and expectations for requirements, design, decisions, and risks will help the entire team stay focused on the goal and be successful.
Plan of Execution
To be successful, it is imperative that the entire team is in agreement around the deliverable, expectations from each team member, expectations and support from the stakeholders. A project plan to track deliverables, get all members executing the tasks responsible and accountable is a must. In a large project with many moving parts, it is very easy to lose track of how to reach the goal line. Many sidebar issue and conversations will be in play, creating distractions. With a proper plan around execution, diligent upkeep of status, and everyone held accountable for their work streams instills trust in the team executing complex integrations.
Investment in an upfront plan on achieving the goals and open communication with the right stakeholders will pave the way to success.
Resource Planning inherently is a part of the overall planning. We give particular emphasis to resource planning is to ensure there is an understanding of priorities while working with customer teams that may be involved in other day-to-day activities. When a timeline expectation is set, it can only be executed when resources involved in tasks have the cycles to get the work done.
Data Driven Testing
Investing in a test process that is data driven is vital. To get a data-driven test process, engaging technical and business stakeholder early in the process will reap delight. IAM systems change data in customers endpoint systems. To avoid surprises, tests should be executed on non-production systems and the expected changes to the data must be diligently validated. It is not enough to assume not getting an error message during a test cycle as a success. Nor is it okay to merely confirm the expected changes. It is essential to validate all changes to ensure side effects do not introduce additional unexpected changes.
A well defined sign-off process for every stage of the project is also essential to success. It keeps the stakeholder engaged and informed in all phases of the project. A sign-off process should also include an understanding of how to keep moving forward in case of a stalemate. In an IAM project, we will face instances where there is some issue that can cause delay. An objective evaluation on whether the problem is a show stopper for go-live must be done objectively. It just is better to have an open discussion during early phases of the project to discuss the challenges the team most likely is going to face, and a process that can help move forward and enable focused Sign-Off towards a successful go-live.
IAM implementations are complex. To reap the IAM program benefits a successful implementation is not enough. A skilled team that understands the execution from a business and technical perspective is required to ensure the continuity of excellence. If the client team is to be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the implementation, it is crucial they be engaged during all phases of the project. Understanding the implementation details will go a long way in tacking operational challenges.
Our team is here to help with every step to make your journey a successful one. Even if you are not working with us directly, we hope the article provides a blueprint towards a successful IAM program execution.