Understanding Lifecycle Management and Regulatory Compliance
The importance of proper lifecycle management cannot be understated for IT teams today: this is the practice of giving the right users the right access to the tools and information they need. It begins on day one with their onboarding and provisioning, and continues throughout their lifetime at the company until they move on and their access is revoked.
For many teams, this process was once (or still is) manual, which is risky, burdensome to IT, HR, and department leads, and therefore time-consuming and costly. This challenge becomes exponentially larger for companies in healthcare, and those that work with government organisations — strict compliance regulations such as NIST, HIPAA, or HITECH mean they are under constant scrutiny from regulators and subject to regular audits.
Regardless of which compliance regulation they must adhere to, there are consistent requirements across the board. One of the most important is having visibility into who has access to what information and strict access controls for sensitive data.
How Lifecycle Management Helps Regulated Companies Achieve Compliance
When new users number in the hundreds, provisioning can snowball out of control with frustrated users, time-strapped IT teams, and the risk that the wrong person gets control over the wrong information. Lifecycle management software streamlines compliance by providing visibility into and governance over what employees can and cannot do given the role and access level they have.
This often changes throughout a user’s lifecycle within the company — different events (changing teams, promotions, adopting new apps, moving from a permanent to a contract position, hiring new partners) trigger different lifecycle state changes, requiring IT teams to ensure that each user’s access to resources stays compliant with security policies even as the access needs within the organisation evolve.
Okta’s Lifecycle Management integrates directly with HR software, so that when HR adds a new employee of record or changes a user’s position within the company, that user is automatically provisioned based on group rules that adhere to the organisation’s security policies. Okta’s Universal Directory keeps all user attributes and access permissions stored in a central location, which makes them easy to modify at any given time. Moreover, this keeps an audit trail that shows when a user was provisioned or deprovisioned, and who granted this access — a critical component of compliance for companies in highly-regulated industries.
Case in point: managing access to sensitive patient information was critical for Envision Healthcare as it launched a cloud-first strategy and continued to grow through numerous M&As. The company’s various market segments, including ambulance company American Medical Response, EmCare (a physician-services business), and Evolution Health business (post-acute-care services) posed additional challenges for Envision’s CIO — it meant more teams (ranging from ambulance drivers to hospital healthcare workers), more data, more access required, and more compliance risks across the board.
For a company like Envision, lifecycle management software ensures that hospital workers have the right level of access to the right patient records, and when those workers move on from the company, they are immediately deprovisioned so sensitive information isn’t jeopardised.
Read more about how Okta helps Envision ensure HIPAA compliance, even when the company sees a different patient every 30 seconds across its teams.
Automated Provisioning: Cost Savings and Compliance
According to Okta’s Impact of Identity survey, 81% of people reported that provisioning applications was a hassle. With Okta, the average organisation saw time-savings of $811,267 in provisioning-related requests, showing that 30 minutes saved on every application provisioning request truly does add up.
Moreover, when it comes to compliance, tools like access audit reports (which shows every app a user has access to), unassignment reports (which lists all users who were unassigned from an app), and rogue account reports (which detect orphan accounts for any app) save money when it comes to preparing for audits each year — not only per user, but in terms of the overall risks companies face with noncompliance, and the stress this puts on CISOs and their teams. Okta maintains its own secure, audited infrastructure and processes as well, which means a system that’s highly secure, providing the thorough information companies need. It’s for this reason that lifecycle management and security standards compliance programs truly go hand-in-hand.