Cloud-Based Identity Management: Best Practices for Rapid End-User Adoption

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By Glenn Choquette

Identity Management (IdM) is not new. Yet, after all this time on the market, organizations still have mixed results for end-user adoption, as many organizations that rolled-out IdM years ago still haven’t achieved their goals: end-users keep calling the help desk to reset passwords, to request accounts and to perform other tasks instead of using the self-service identity solution. While most organizations have diligently assessed vendor offerings, fewer have adequately planned how to achieve their utilization objectives. Many organizations assume that end-users will automatically start using their IdM solution without any planning or incentives, but that’s proven to be false.

With user acceptance rates ranging from under 5% to nearly 100%, it’s clear that successful IdM rollouts don’t just happen:  they involve executive sponsorship, planning, education, setting measurable objectives, metrics, and a variety of “incentives” for achieving the goals. Fortunately, these activities will improve user adoption when launching, or even when “re-launching” IdM.

Before You Begin

Best practices for your organization depend on a variety of factors such as its size, culture, geographic distribution, which applications are in the cloud or on-premise, types and diversity of users, previous rollout experiences, the chosen IdM solution, etc. A combination of planning, education, metrics and incentives has proven to maximize both the quality of the end user experience and financial benefits of IdM. Like all projects that involve significant change, executive sponsorship and active executive participation are critical to success.


The first step to planning for rapid user adoption is to understand the capabilities of the chosen solution. Plan to automate as much of the setup as possible to avoid end-user inertia. If your solution supports it, plan a transition acceptable to your corporate culture that requires the use of the new solution.

If automation isn’t possible with your solution, then simplify the registration process as much as possible and increase your use of incentives. Your end-user adoption plan should consider your organization’s IdM objectives as well as the potential costs and risks of each aspect of the plan.

User Awareness

In most organizations, users tend to delay change until they are absolutely convinced of the benefits for themselves; fortunately, IdM has a lot to offer end-users: a single password to remember, no more waiting in the help desk queue for password resets, no forms to fill out to request access to resources, etc. So, don’t keep it a secret. Market the benefits of IdM before launch. Make users aware of how their lives will be easier.

Metrics and Incentives

Metrics and incentives are pivotal to success and provide ongoing leverage for continued attainment of objectives. They can become your best friends in achieving rapid user adoption. Just as it’s important to “sell” the expected benefits to the user base prior to launch, it can be even more important to keep the momentum going by communicating the observed benefits after launch. If non-IT leaders haven’t already been sold, you’ll want to reach out to them to help carry the torch, as it’s in their own best interest to do so.

Fortunately, compared to legacy IdM solutions, modern IdM solutions achieve faster user adoption with fewer end-user incentives because users face fewer obstacles and are able to clearly see the benefits of using the solutions. Setup activities occur naturally during friendly IdM processes such as receiving new accounts and changing passwords. As more people in the organization become aware of the success of IdM and what it means, both to themselves and to the bottom line, your user base will begin to sell the solution for you. Soon, your modern solution will become the organization’s norm and the unbelievers will be viewed as laggards, under peer pressure to join the team.


Identity management solutions and implementation methods have improved over the last several years. Whether your organization is new to IdM or implemented a solution years ago but is experiencing inadequate utilization, proper planning and execution of solution launch (or re-launch) activities can improve utilization rates.

Glenn Choquette is the director of product management for Fischer International Identity

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