A thorough analysis of your user base. How many users do you have? How are they segmented? Are they segmented by department or function? And, finally, what are their access needs?
An analysis of your technical infrastructure. Are you a Windows shop running .NET or a Unix shop running Java? This will make a difference in the selection of an access management system. Both management and the non-technical executives will be more interested in something that's compatible with your current IT plumbing rather than something that needs to be fitted to another platform.
An identity and access management control strategy that is functional and cost-effective. Executive management isn't interested in fancy technology, or how cool it is. They're interested in cold hard cash and want to make sure that your security implementations won't trash the bottom line in next year's budget.
Besides compatibility with your existing systems, a cost analysis of the proposed strategy needs to be done. These days, everybody's favorite phrase is "return on investment," or ROI. Access management plans, like most information security projects, do not generate direct revenue, making it difficult to measure the success of a given security program.
Finally, a good way to please your executives is to produce figures that show how the system might save the company money. For example, if you can document the potential decrease of help desk calls under a new access management system, you could demonstrate a hard dollar figure for cost savings. The most frequent calls to help desks are for password resets, and that's a number that can be quantified based on the cost of your help desk employees and the time they take to handle password issues.
This was first published in December 2006