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Five Essential Features Of Partner Identity and Access Management

Oren Harel
April 6, 2021

Any business that relies on partner companies to help drive sales needs a B2B Partner Identity and Access Management (PIAM) solution within its technology stack. PIAM platforms let businesses define roles and enforce access rights to their partner-facing resources such as online partner portals, applications, catalog data and other IT assets the used for business collaboration. In addition, they ensure that partner organizations’ employees have access to the resources they need, when they need it.

Currently, without a PIAM solution in place, the way businesses go about managing partners' access to their assets is a patchwork of many steps. IT teams individually manage each separate step, making each one a potential bottleneck that slows business. A proper PIAM solution should collect all the steps into one frictionless process.

Often, an organization will use conventional Identity and Access Management (IAM) and try to kludge it together to make it work for their partners.  But IAM solutions are not designed the same as a Partner IAM and the burden of access rights management remains solely on the business itself, requiring individual management of each partners' users.  A complete PIAM solution provides the ability to distribute self-service access administration features to the partners.

The way businesses go about implementing a Partner IAM solution, however, can vary widely. Some companies attempt to manage partner access manually. Others try to treat partner organizations’ employees as individual users and manage their access rights using conventional Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools, rather than platforms designed for PIAM specifically. Still others adopt PIAM solutions that place the burden of access rights management solely on the business itself, rather than giving partners distributed administration self-service features.

The lack of a PIAM solution gets in the way of efficient, scalable partner management. Read on for tips on what to look for when building your PIAM strategy.

What you and your partners should demand from your PIAM solution

.A PIAM solution that meets the needs of both your business and your partners should include five key features.

1 - Manage partners as organizations, not individual users

Most partner companies include multiple users who will interact with your online portal. Some of those users will require different access rights than others, and those access rights need to continuously update over time as your partners’ employees leave or change their position (mover / leaver). 

This is why attempting to manage partners’ individual users is a wrong approach, that cannot accommodate the dynamic nature of access rights needs.. You need a PIAM solution that allows you to define and manage each company as an organization, and delegate to your partners the admin capability to manage their own users’ access.

After all, you don’t partner with or sell to individuals. You operate in a B2B market where your relationships are with organizations. Your PIAM tools need to reflect that.

2 - Hands-off access management

You and your partners alike want to focus on business, not on managing access rights. Toward that end, your PIAM solution should make access management a hands-off affair as much as possible. It should be fast and easy for partners to request and receive access rights, and just as easy for you to introduce new services to your partners .

 Your PIAM tools should be there when you need them, but should never get in the way of getting business done.

3 - Self-service functionality

If you take the burden for defining, enforcing and updating partner access rights solely on yourself, you’ll struggle to succeed at scale. You can’t effectively manage access rights for large numbers of  partner companies if you have to update policies every time a user within a partner organization changes or requires a new level of access. 

To address this, your PIAM solution must  provide self-service functionality to your partners. They should be able to add and remove their users, and update their own roles and access rights when needed. This functionality not only takes the burden off of you, but also ensures that your partners won’t face delays waiting on you to update their rights. That means more time doing business, less time administrating.

Of course, you do want to be able to control which types of roles and access rights your partners can set for themselves. Toward that end, your PIAM solution should operate according to a shared-responsibility model that gives you the ability to define which rights are available to each partner, then lets partners self-service within the bounds of the rules you define for their organization.

4 - Easy for anyone to use

PIAM is also burdensome and difficult to scale if it requires special expertise to use. Neither you nor your partners should have to write complex configuration files or code in order to define or audit access rights.

Instead, your partners  should be able to easily invite users into the ecosystem, onboard them, and manage the lifecycle of the user in the system in a simple and intuitive way. 

5 - Visibility and control

The ability to monitor, audit, and control the rights available to partners is just as important as ensuring that those rights are easy to define in the first place. When you need to know who within your partner network has access to which resources inside your business, that data should be a click away.

Look for a PIAM solution that offers a centralized, consolidated view of all the applications, roles, partner organizations and individual users within your partner network so that you maintain full visibility at all times. In addition, be sure you can align your access controls with security and compliance requirements defined by your business, and perform audits to demonstrate compliance with the rules you set.

Partner IAM for 2021 with PlainID Partner Manager

Partner Manager, a new PIAM solution from PlainID, delivers the essential PIAM features described above.

Using a shared-responsibility model in which access rights admin capabilities are delegated to partners, Partner Manager provides a simple way for managing partners’ access rights to your online portal. The platform offers centralized visibility into partner access rights, and it allows partners to self-service their access needs whenever they need within the confines of the rights you grant them. And it does all this without requiring programming skills or other special technical expertise.

You can learn more about PlainID’s Partner IAM solution here.

We’d be thrilled to show you how our new Partner IAM solution works, and give you a free trial.

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