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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Identity Risks – Not Using Available Support

Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
8:52 pm

Why is it that so many of us are reticent to ask for directions when we are lost? Perhaps it is the innate urge to be independent, to demonstrate to the world that we can do the anything to which we set our minds. Perhaps it is the inflated ego – a reluctance to admit we don’t know everything. Perhaps it is the need to invent, to improvise, to create something new. Whatever the reason, failure to ask for directions can cause us to drive our cars in circles (my apologies to Nascar) or can cause delays in our Identity Management projects.

Most of Sun’s identity management implementations are performed by third-party systems integrators. To support their efforts, Sun has extensive online resources for these implementation parters, including a knowledge repository, online forums, training and documentation, all of which can be very valuable tools to an implementation team. In addition, we offer access to product experts and project advisors who can assist in design reviews, provide project oversight and expert advice.

Yet, I never cease to be amazed when I speak to partner personnel who have never even logged on to access these resources or request help when it is needed. It is like the proverbial husband who drives his car past the same gas station three times in a vain attempt to find his destination without stopping once to ask for directions.

Ignoring available support facilities may:

  1. Cause your project team to re-invent solutions. Your Identity Management project should seek to employ best practices in pursuit of business value, not to seek innovation for its own sake. If you can find out how others have successfully implemented their systems and learn from them, you can avoid their mistakes and minimize your efforts.
  2. Slow implementation. Your team should be focused on implementing your system, not simply learning how to do it. If the team hits hurdles they cannot cross, they may muddle around trying to find an answer themselves, when they could have easily found the answer they were seeking on a knowledge base or interactive forum.
  3. Slow issue resolution. I was on a project review call recently when an implementation engineer was struggling with a technical issue. “Have you accessed the partner forum?” I asked? “No, we haven’t got around to it,” was the reply. Images of driving by the proverbial gas station flashed through my mind.

My recommendations?

  1. Training. Isn’t this obvious? Shouldn’t you make sure your technical team is well-trained before they attempt to implement your system? You can’t expect your people to read the manual and become proficient. Maybe you can do that with a word-processing system, but not an enterprise-class Identity Management system. If your team is prepared through proper training, they will be better prepared to ask the right questions at the right time during a project. Training is essential. Take the time to do it. You will be glad you did.
  2. Vendor Resources. Become familiar with what resources your vendor offers – documentation, knowledge repositories, online forums, expert services. Make sure your team uses them all.
  3. Technical Support. If you think you have found a bug, report it. Work with your technical support team. Use the technical support resource you are paying for. But don’t expect technical support to compensate for your own lack of training.
  4. Project review / design reviews. Ask your vendor to conduct periodic project reviews with your team. Ask for technical design reviews. These can be extremely valuable exercises. In project review meetings I conduct with project teams, we attempt to ask questions in advance of when they might arise in the normal course of a project. We try to instill in the project teams a discipline to ask for directions early, so issues can be resolved early.
  5. Expert services. Don’t hesitate to secure the services of experts who can help you. Last week, I was on a 30 minute call where a product expert recommended a solution to a problem the project team had struggled with for two weeks. 30 minutes vs. two weeks? Sounds like good return to me. These expert services aren’t free. Be prepared to pay for the right expertise and experience. But it will pay off handsomely as you solve issues more rapidly and reduce project delays.

“Not using available support” sounds like a trite expression. I wish it were. So, admit you don’t know everything. Back down from your propensity to go it alone. Stop at the Identity gas station and ask for help. It will help you quit driving in circles – unless, of course, you drive for Nascar.

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