Easy Access to Apps Improves Productivity


An identity and access management system enables the Susan G. Komen organization to streamline access to cloud applications, while safeguarding sensitive data.

By Brim Basom

At Susan G. Komen, we want the highest percentage possible of every dollar to go to our mission of providing grants and funding for breast cancer research and our community health outreach. To that end, we are always looking for opportunities to improve productivity and to invest in projects that can deliver a strong return.

We work with several vendors of cloud-based applications and services. More than 250 users at our corporate headquarters in Dallas log in to these Web-based applications throughout the day in order to fulfill their responsibilities.

However, an internal assessment revealed that our workers frequently lost or forgot the URLs, user names and passwords required for authentication and access to these applications. Consequently, they were locked out of the systems they needed for their daily tasks.

This problem was increasing the cost of running our help desks, as our IT team was frequently called upon to reset passwords. Users were wasting valuable time attempting to access applications when they could be working. We wanted to improve productivity by giving users a central portal that would provide easy access to all their Web-based applications.

We also wanted to improve security. Users were writing user names and passwords on sticky notes, in notebooks, in text files stored on removable storage devices, and other non-secure locations outside the control of administrators and IT professionals.

As a nonprofit organization, we interact with donors and corporate partners that fund our foundation. Many of our cloud applications contain information from donors that we want to keep secure, including contact information and email addresses.

We needed to safeguard our information, while also finding a better way to monitor log-ins to our systems. So we sought an encrypted portal solution that could store login information securely in a single location and provide better administrative control.

Rolling Out a Single Sign-on Solution

To meet these requirements we evaluated the top single sign-on providers in the industry and undertook a rigorous vendor analysis. We determined that OneLogin was the most modern of the SSO solutions we assessed. It had all the features we were looking for and supported all the applications we use. Perhaps most important, it’s very easy to use. It enables people to securely log in to all their cloud apps with a single click, so they don’t need to remember a lot of passwords.

We also liked the way OneLogin uses Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) for enterprise integration with cloud-based applications. This is in line with our vision for our technology platforms going forward.

We expect Web-based apps and services to continue to proliferate. By using SAML, the system leverages the industry standard for securely exchanging authentication and authorization data to address Web browser single sign-on.

The expertise of OneLogin’s support team was another crucial factor in our evaluation process. The group worked with our infrastructure and IT services teams to set up a trial run on our network so we could test the product fully before deploying it. The prototype enabled us to test all of our cloud apps to ensure they would work with the system and to confirm that we liked the look and feel of the solution.

We rolled out the system OneLogin in phases to help drive end-user adoption. First we brought up the popular applications such as Salesforce.com. OneLogin’s integration with Salesforce is well documented, which simplified the process. The more applications we add to the system, the more valuable the system becomes and the more it improves the overall end user experience.

Our IT team met with the leaders of our various business groups and educated them about the value of this solution. We helped users understand how it would reduce costs for the organization, allowing a higher percentage of our capital to go to our mission.

Simple, Secure Authentication and Access

Now that we have integrated with OneLogin, our users can click once to access all the applications they need to carry out their responsibilities. It saves countless keystrokes and eliminates the need for multiple URLs, usernames, and passwords. OneLogin also eases the workload for our IT team by reducing the number of help desk calls and help tickets.

The solution provides an activity monitor that enables us to track who logs in to our applications and databases. This gives our administrators better insight into who views and accesses the information.

We’ve discovered that people tend to use an application more if the login process is simple and easy. Our adoption rate has improved for many applications because users can easily access the apps they need—wherever they are. When people are away from their desks, they can access full versions of their Web apps on tablets and smartphones using OneLogin Mobile. As a result, everyone on the staff is more productive.

Administrators can easily add new applications by visiting OneLogin’s app store, which provides a searchable collection of applications that are preconfigured for SSO. If we need an app that’s not in the collection, the system works with the vendor to add it.

With this solution, our administrators can authorize users based on their roles and security levels. It is easy to set up rules so that each department and user can access the applications that are appropriate to their responsibilities. Having a rules-based authorization system also streamlines the process of onboarding new employees.

We estimate that this solution will save us $35,000 annually by eliminating support calls related to password problems and resets. In addition, we expect productivity savings of $82,000 per year by making it easier for people to access the applications they need. They will spend less time trying to log in and more time working. In terms of both dollars and productivity, we become better stewards of our supporters’ donations.

Our rating as a nonprofit organization is derived from the percentage of our funding that directly supports breast cancer research. Accordingly, we scrutinize our expenses and costs very closely.

OneLogin’s single sign-on solution reduces our costs by simplifying the ongoing use of cloud-based applications and services and streamlining the onboarding of new employees and Web-based technologies. The solution also improves our security and administrative processes. It benefits our entire organization and also positions us for future growth.

Brim Basom is the IT solutions adviser for Susan G. Komen Foundation, the largest and best-funded breast cancer organization in the United States. With 15 years in IT, Basom’s previous experience includes work with Fortune 100 companies in banking, finance, health care and IT consulting.

Article source: http://www.baselinemag.com/security/easy-access-to-apps-improves-productivity.html/


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