Bringing it All Together: Okta, HR, and Your Directories

In any organization, there’s one key resource that cannot be replaced: people. Even though technology is seen as the great business enabler of the 21st century, organizations must still focus their efforts on managing their human resources. After all, it’s people who are responsible for thinking creatively, generating new products, solving organizational issues, ensuring customer satisfaction, and ultimately providing that unique competitive advantage each organization strives for.

The scope of HR management has developed over the years. From being a department that merely processes payroll, HR has grown into a fully-fledged strategic department responsible for key deliverables such as recruitment, selection, internal relations, training, and workplace safety. And as with other business functions, technology has evolved to assist in managing these processes. Payrolls, employee self-service, performance reviews, and recruitment can all be managed by online systems which not only automate the HR function, but also integrate it into other key organizational systems like identity and access management.

Managing access for multiple systems is a challenge

An organization can hire the best employees out there, but they can't do their job unless they have access to all the apps, tools and information they need, when they need it. Managing access to organizational systems requires administrators to create user accounts, and then provide these with the requisite level of access needed by employees to perform their duties. To ensure they meet the necessary security compliance requirements—and because it’s just good industry practice—administrators must enforce the principle of least privilege. This means each user role must be granted specific privileges. For large organizations that is growing or has a changing workforce, this process can become error prone and unmanageable..

However, managing user access is not limited to only setting up accounts—the real challenge is the frequency and fluidity with which people join, change roles, and leave an organization. Keeping up with these changes is where the real security and process challenges lie. It requires HR and IT to work closely together, relaying information back and forth via email, file drops and ticketing systems, the opportunity for error gets bigger and bigger. Minor miscommunications can lead to finger pointing, interoffice tensions and a reduction in productivity and upset employees.

The combination of Identity and access management and user lifecycle management solves this problem by automating the onboarding and offboarding of key apps and resources for every employee. Having one central system for centralizing all your identities and securing access to all corporate applications allows IT departments to secure access with a great end user experience. It improves the process as people join, leave, and change roles within an organization.

HR systems should be the master data record keeper

However, as with any IT ecosystem that has multiple systems using records of the same name, the issue of master data management emerges. In this instance, the user record is common across all systems and more than likely contains the same record fields (such as name, email address, etc.). When a disparity arises between two records, the integrity of the data comes into question, since there is no certainty as to which record holds the correct information. To resolve this issue, a master record is needed to serve as the single point of reference for all systems.

It makes sense that an organization’s central HR system be used as the master record keeper for all things HR-related. After all, when new people join the organization, this is always their main starting point: from the moment they’re onboarded, all of their details are stored with HR—and so naturally, the HR management system should be tasked with maintaining, identifying, and differentiating them. In addition, the self-service functionality built into many HR management systems gives employees the ability to update certain details themselves. If managed correctly, this leads to more accurate data since it originates from the most authentic source.

Okta’s HR-driven IT provisioning

Okta’s HR-driven IT provisioning solution utilizes Lifecycle Management and Universal Directory to bring together identity and human resource management, forming an integrated workflow that helps to bridge the gap between HR and IT.

Okta’s pre-built HR Information System integrations automate the time-intensive, manual, and potentially error-prone user lifecycle management processes. Based on employee data and triggers in HR systems, Okta can automate IT processes like provisioning new users, creating new app accounts, set permissions, sync employee profile updates across systems, and quickly offboard users when they leave the organization.

Okta’s Universal Directory helps to establish the single source of truth organizations need to verify user integrity. With seamless information exchange, and added functionality such as extensible user profiles, this solution allows organizations to deploy a flexible, cloud-based directory to customize, organize, and manage user profiles and privileges. HR can seamlessly assimilate multiple user stores into a single source of truth—and from there, easily track and automate user access as the employee moves through the company.

With Okta, managing user profiles and their accounts across multiple applications is no longer an issue. Our Lifecycle Management solution facilitates the fluid transition of people and positions within an organization, enabling you to support, mobilize, and empower your most precious asset—your people.

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