Failed vs Successful Implementations
Does the phrase “IAM Implementation” scare you? Some organizations are hesitant to implement an
IAM solution due to 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 which scares many people away.
The reality is that many IAM implementations do fail, due to common mistakes. One study found that
61% of IT implementations take much longer than expected. (Krigsman, 2011)In order 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?
In order 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
will ensure 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 which 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 which will help the
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
In addition the vendor might not have the knowledge or expertise about the technology or
infrastructure which the organization uses. This can lead them to need to custom build, or even worse,
figure out how to build, the solution for your organization which adds a great deal of time to the
implementation. Every organization has different infrastructure in place and different needs, which is
why basing your 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 your 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 andassessment and creates a blueprint for exactly what is going to
2. Ensure that the vendor you are working with is a good fit for your organization and its goalsMake 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.
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