What's Your Identity Management Consulting Firm Hiding?
Based on my experience, most Identity and Access Management (IAM) consultancies - even the "Big 4" - tend to keep clients in the dark. Due to the complexity of IAM projects and multiple stakeholders, it's easier to hide the gory details of a project gone wrong until its too late. Unfortunately, this approach has given the IAM services industry a black eye.
As an organization, we are big believers in transparency for our clients. Transparency not only aids teams to work through project curve balls, but it also empowers the teams to spot risks collectively in order to prevent them from ocurring in the first place.
As I write this post, Identropy is now in its' fourth month of everyday usage of our Project Management Information System (PMIS). When I initially joined the team, we were using a mix of disparate tools: SharePoint for document management, a Time Tracking application, MS Project and Excel files for resource and expense management. Individually considered, our disparate parts did what they were supposed to, although none of these tools really talked to eachother.
In our quest for increasing transparency for both ourselves and our clients, the lack of integration of our various systems caused significant overhead for our PMs. They had to spend time to create the level of transparency we wanted our clients to have. In order to address this inefficiency, we decided to look for a better solution: a single place for our customers to have total visibility into our IAM project progress, cost, risks, documents, etc.
Simply stated, Identity & Access Management projects require strong and active project management. And while technology is never a good substitute for solid processes, our experience is that an effective Project Management Information System (PMIS) can put your IAM project on steroids by increasing transparency into the state of the project.
Since I had experience using an Enterprise wide PMIS tool, I led the effort of defining our requirements and identifying likely candidate solutions. In one of my earlier blog postings, I wrote about the importance of a good Requirements Traceability Matrix
. So, the first thing I did was begin working with my team to start evaluating just what requirements we really had for a PMIS. I constructed an RTM and began consolidating requirements into various components such as "Financial Tracking" "Scheduling", "Calendars", etc...
Our key criterion boiled down to 3 major points:
- Proper Task Sequencing: In a typical IDM project, one task must drive another. Without this, you simply have a glorified to-do list, which any IDM PM knows is the kiss-of-death for the project.
- SaaS Based Solution: Identropy is a zero IT footprint company. That means, unless absolutely necessary, we don't have anything on our premises.
- Integrated Time Tracking, Doc and Expense Management: By integrating all of these components, we would have greater insight into projects, resource utilization, and how much we were spending.
The fun part in performing requirements assessments is discerning marketing hype from reality. (We have a lot of experience doing this for our clients when selecting an IAM platform!). The finalists demonstrated complete packages in terms of polish, solution feature sets and, to some degree, cost flexibility. Ultimately, Identropy chose Clarizen to partner with to provide our PMIS solution, for pretty much the same reason most organizations select Identropy as a partner. While the Clarizen solution is top-notch, the overriding-factor was and still is the people and their philosophy. From our account rep (Jacqueline, call her if you need a PMIS!) to our product support folks (Gil and Josh), it would be almost impossible to find people who truly care as much about honesty and earning a client's business as they do.
The impact of the overall solution has been great. Our clients have welcomed the increased visibility, which has allowed us to forge a closer partnership with them. It has increased communication between consultants, resulting in fantastic conversations regarding our implementation methodology. Lastly, it has served as a differentiator for us in front of potential clients that shows the practical angle of our corporate philosophy regarding transparency.