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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Identity Risks – Large Initial Scope

Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
7:18 pm

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, chew well.”

Those who Implement Identity Management systems would do well to learn from that old, trite saying. Because Identity Management promises such broad benefits, we may be tempted to capture all those benefits in one large mouthful. In practice, great big bites are much more difficult to swallow than judiciously small nibbles.

Large Initial Scope can:

  • Exponentially complicate system testing. Multiply 10 resource adaptors times 10 user roles times 10 workflows and we have a huge testing problem. Start with a couple of managed resources, a few roles and a few workflows. It is much easier to build the foundation and layer on functionality when the first small steps are well-proven.
  • Require too much business process change. Identity Mangement systems can have broad impact on users and business processes. Trying to change too much all at once may not challenge the technology, but can wreak havoc on your organization.
  • Delay perceived system value. Business managers want (and deserve) quick payback on investment. Building too much into the first phase of your Identity Management project can delay that benefit.
  • Undermine stakeholder confidence. Successful Identity Management projects need consistent, strong sponsorship. If things stretch out too long, it is easy to undermine the confidence of the stakeholders who are so vital to the success of a project.

So, what is the recommended approach? Simple – eat one small bite at at time, and keep eating:

  • Choose “Quick Wins.” A Quick Win is a subset of the overall enterprise solution which delivers high business value in a short timeframe. This allows a vital part of the Identity Management strategy to be delivered quickly, demonstrating that the approach is sound and establishing a foundation for further enhancement.
  • Implement in phases. By segmenting the overall solution into manageable parts, you can deliver value quickly and steadily, thus sustaining executive sponsor support and progressively implementing additional Identity functionality.
  • Tightly manage scope. Avoid the insidious scope creep demon like the plague. A few simple additions here and there can quickly add up to a schedule- and budget-killing monster.

I’ve experienced both the quickly-earned joy of well-planned “Quick Wins” and the drawn out agony of “eat the whole beast” projects. The former lays a foundation for further success; the latter spoils everyone’s appetite for more.

May all your Identity feasts be joyful!

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