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Blog | 4-minute Read

Improving identity lifecycle management with lifecycle workflows

Tom Urwin Smiling

Tom Urwin

Senior Identity Architect

Published: 11 December 2023

Why should you streamline and automate your identity lifecycle management? For better security, compliance, cost-savings, and productivity, that’s why. Find out how lifecycle workflows can help.

As Microsoft continues its journey towards full cloud identity management and governance we’re seeing new features regularly appearing within Microsoft Entra ID.

New functionality designed to drive efficiency, productivity, security, and usability.

In this article, part of our cloud-identity series, we’re going to dive into lifecycle workflows, a new feature within Microsoft Entra ID Governance.

We’ll explore how lifecycle workflows can drive greater improvements across identity lifecycle management. Where it can add further value to your Entra ID investment. And how it can help organisations become more efficient, productive, and secure.

Understanding lifecycle workflows

As a Microsoft Entra ID license holder, whether it’s P1 or P2, you already have access to a comprehensive suite of identity lifecycle management tools.

From HR-driven provisioning to Access Packages automating entitlements and Azure Logic Apps enhancing IAM with customisable workflows. These are integral features available within different Entra ID licences.

Comparison chart of features and licencing in Entra ID Governance

Lifecycle workflows is the premium offering available in Entra ID Governance.

This feature takes lifecycle management to the next level by providing a comprehensive set of pre-configured tasks designed to automate common scenarios.

What sets lifecycle workflows apart is its scalability, simplified management from a centralised location, and the ability to customise workflows via Azure Logic Apps, offering tailored solutions to match specific organisational needs.

This approach allows us to outline the spectrum of lifecycle management options within Entra ID —starting from the inclusive features in P1 and P2 licenses to the advanced capabilities offered by lifecycle workflows.

The Complete Guide to Microsoft Entra ID

Download your 34-page guide to Microsoft’s identity tools.

Adding value to your investment

Choosing the ideal tech features means matching it to your specific needs. If the identity lifecycle management features in P1 and P2 licencing suit you, sticking with them is great.

But, the premium features in lifecycle workflows can expand these capabilities. Enhancing productivity, security, and saving time and money.

These extended capabilities make lifecycle workflows a premium option worth considering, no matter where you are in your cloud identity management  journey.

Let’s dive into what lifecycle workflows can do for you.

Saving time, improving accuracy

58% of organisations1 say their IT team spends a total of six-and-a-half work weeks annually doing repetitive tasks.

Time is precious. So why drain it away completing routine tasks, when that expertise could be put to better use?

Plus, the more you rely on manual input at scale, the more you risk human error. Research shows humans make 20 to 30 errors per 100 manual tasks2.

Given that 88% of data breaches3 can be attributed to human error, it isn’t just inefficient.

If the bulk of your identity lifecycle management processes remain manual, you’re risking your reputation and financial health.

With lifecycle workflows you can create automated workflows such as:

  • Onboarding and offboarding process for employees.
  • Granting and revoking access to resources.
  • Updating user attributes.

Giving valuable time back to an under-resourced IT team and eliminating the risk of human error.

Frictionless, fast onboarding for greater retention and productivity

Lifecycle workflows lets you streamline the onboarding process for new hires.

This is a big deal.

Because organisations who invest in a slick, streamlined onboarding process increase their retention of new hires by 82%4 and improve their productivity by 70%5

By automating the provisioning of necessary resources, access privileges, and personalised settings, you can accelerate the onboarding process in line with your company needs.

And ensure that new employees are ready and productive from day one.

Enhancing security and productivity through custom identity lifecycle workflows.

Inadequate offboarding poses security risks, with 58% of former employees6 retaining network access.

Additionally:

  • 24% of companies7 have fallen victim to data breaches initiated by ex-staff members.
  • 25% of organisations8 don’t know how long employees retain access to resources after they’ve left the business.

We all know that Entra ID already prioritises security, offering robust offboarding tools for users with P1 and above licenses.

However, managing intricate identity lifecycles demands tailored solutions.

Lifecycle workflows excel here, enabling custom task extensions that revoke access across all platforms precisely when users depart, heightening security in identity lifecycle management.

These customised workflows not only bolster security but also significantly enhance overall productivity.

Handling access to diverse apps and data, whether in the cloud or on-premises, can be daunting.

Lifecycle workflows provide tailored setups aligned perfectly with your organisation’s operations, empowering businesses to notably boost productivity and flexibility.

Simplified Lifecycle Workflow example

Features

  • Ready-to-use templates: Lifecycle workflows provide adaptable templates that can be easily tailored to meet your organisation’s specific needs.
  • Tailored automation: Custom automation enables businesses to regulate specific actions, such as managing access rights and updating privileges.
  • Active management: Using Microsoft Entra admin centre or Microsoft Graph API, workflows can be fine-tuned and improved to stay agile and aligned with evolving business demands.
  • Monitoring and adaptation: Workflow history and audit logs enable continuous monitoring, analysis, and iterative improvements, directly supporting your organisation’s objectives.

Save time, money, and reputation

We all know the pressures of meeting compliance obligations. Not to mention the financial and reputational costs for failing.

With lifecycle workflows living inside Entra ID Governance, you have access to tools that take the sting out of your compliance management.

Helping you meet your obligations without overburdening admin.

Audit trails

With lifecycle workflows you can create an audit trail of user lifecycle processes.

A full history and audit trail for joins, moves, and departures can be accessed and viewed in the Microsoft Entra admin centre.

Policy consistency

Striving for consistent adherence to predefined policies, lifecycle workflows significantly reduce the risk of non-compliance issues and potential regulatory penalties.

By automating access management according to established policies, they promote a standardised and compliant access structure. Significantly improving compliance management.

Least privilege access

Aligning access privileges with roles and responsibilities embodies the principle of least privilege.

Lifecycle workflows ensure that users have access only to resources essential for their roles. Aligning with compliance frameworks and reducing unnecessary exposure.

Simplified management

Simplified administration through Entra ID Governance offers a unified approach to access management, consolidating all controls into  singular system.

This centralised system simplifies administrative tasks, providing an efficient, straightforward method for managing access.

Lifecycle workflows further optimises this process by enabling tailored automation and fine-tuning access controls. Ultimately enhancing efficiency and security across your entire system.

Unlock savings, security and efficiency

Effective identity lifecycle management is pivotal for any organisation. Yet the costs of inefficient processes often go unnoticed.

Whether managing manually, or transitioning to cloud identity, Microsoft Entra ID licences hold the tools for heightened efficiency, productivity, and security.

And by unlocking lifecycle workflows in Entra ID Governance, you can extend these capabilities further.

These workflows allow you to streamline and automate critical tasks in the JML process. Maximising team productivity and uncovering hidden costs within your identity lifecycle.

The result? Time and money saved, errors reduced, and a fortified security posture.

Key takeaways

  • Lifecycle workflows streamline the processes in your identity lifecycle management.

  • Improve productivity and efficiency by automating processes and enabling fast, frictionless onboarding and off-boarding.

  • Lifecycle workflows extend the security reach through custom workflows and tasks extensions.

  • Compliance is simplified and enforced consistently through audit trails, policy consistency, and least privilege access principles.

  • Lifecycle workflows offer scalability, centralisation, and troubleshooting capabilities, empowering administrators and adapting seamlessly to organisational growth.

The Complete Guide to Microsoft Entra ID

Master Microsoft Identity. Grab your free 34-page guide and discover tools that:

  • Improve identity efficiency by 50%
  • Reduce data breach risk by 45%
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Tom Urwin Smiling

Author

Tom Urwin

Tom Urwin is a Senior Identity Architect for Kocho. Tom loves using his architecture experience and ideas to build successful projects and create happy clients.

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