Identity management paves the way to a lifetime of digital engagement and stronger alumni relations.
If you’re a school or university you likely hold your alumni in high esteem. You may even have a dedicated team to build relationships with them.
There is a growing ecosystem of fantastic digital services focused in the alumni relations space. Even Microsoft have dedicated Microsoft 365 licenses for alumni.
That said, supporting digital services for alumni is different to supporting IT for internal users. IT is a great enabler. But, in this case your traditional infrastructure may end up holding you back. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Do you really want your Active Directory filling up with potentially thousands of alumni accounts? Especially when many of them may actually be inactive ghost accounts.
- Can your IT service desk support thousands of additional users with complex remote-access needs?
- Do you want to manage alumni data seamlessly rather than having disparate databases and manual CSV imports/exports?
1. Managing Alumni Users without Active Directory
Active Directory is often the heart of an organization’s IT. A plethora of other technologies from LDAP to AAD Connect hang off the Active Directory. So long as AD is managed well, the rest of IT management flows from there.
But the central nature of AD, which makes it strong for internal users, makes it problematic with alumni. From a security perspective, you have a whole bunch of extra accounts that are mostly inactive. If an account were breached how long would it take for someone to notice? And what resources would that breached AD account have access to? From a licensing perspective you may have issues convincing vendors that half your accounts shouldn’t be included.
How do you manage IT users without Active Directory? There are a few different ways – we’re going to talk about two: IDx (The Identity Exchange) and Simple Sign-On.
IDx is an identity management (IDM) platform that handles identity synchronization and user lifecycle management. Simple Sign-On is a full IAM solution. It includes single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, password resets and some basic identity management too. Both are built on our Cloud Vault – a secure cloud directory.
Users can be synced, uploaded or created directly within the Cloud Vault. And you can manage their full identity profile via our portal UI. Once your alumni are in the Cloud Vault, you can remove the AD accounts keeping it nice, tidy and secure.
2. Providing digital services for Alumni without it placing a burden on your IT team
Having your alumni users in a separate directory makes a lot of sense. Even if you’re not planning on actively doing much with your alumni just yet. But if the day comes where you do want to provide digital services for your alumni: You’ll need to provide provisioning, authentication, security, and a way to handle passwords.
The problem with alumni is that it’s a group that just keeps on growing. You could soon be faced with the challenge of managing IT for a group of alumni that dwarfs your internal user count by 10:1 or more. At the same time, unlike staff and students, alumni are unlikely to pay or be externally funded.
If you don’t make the right choices you could significantly burden your IT team and cause yourselves problems and internal friction.
The obvious solution here is a SaaS-based identity and access management (IAM) solution. There are quite a few on the market, but most are oriented at corporate users. They come at a very high price even for modest amounts of active education users, let alone for huge numbers of alumni.
Simple Sign-On was built was this particular kind of scenario. It’s core features of provisioning, authentication, MFA and password self-service rival all the major IAM brands on the market, but it is simple and lean and that means it’s affordable too. Affordable enough to be able to support many 10s of thousands of alumni users at a reasonable price.
Simple Sign-On automates account provisioning which saves your IT team time. It enables secure authentication to many different applications, giving you the ability to adopt a wide range of services to best meet the needs of your alumni. It allows self-service password resets and management that means users can securely manage their own passwords without raising tickets with your IT helpdesk. And it keeps your alumni accounts secure.
3. CRM Sync
Just like most businesses use a CRM to manage customers relationships, they can also help manage your alumni relations. Most major CRMs including Salesforce and MS Dynamics have plenty of in-built flexibility to meet your precise requirements. But there are also some dedicated systems that focus on alumni specifically. In fact there’s a whole category for them on review site Capterra.
After you’ve selected your alumni CRM, you next need to figure out how you get your data into it. Often the CRM processes starts with a mess of Excel and CSV exports from various systems. These have to be manually processed, consolidated and uploaded. This is a painful manual process fraught with human error, delays, and a number of limitations.
With IDx though, the “import” of the alumni users is handled in real-time through synchronization from our Cloud Vault. This in turn could originate data from another source like an Active Directory. Alumni profiles could even be made up from a hybrid of multiple sources. This removes a huge amount of manual effort, automatically resolves various identity-based problems such as duplicates, and can have some automated intelligence in the workflows based on your business requirements.
With IDx you can activate your alumni CRM in no time. By automating manual processes and removing hurdles, IDx enhances your ability to build long-lasting alumni relationships.
IAM Cloud is a Microsoft Gold Partner, GDPR compliant, ethical when it comes to privacy and business practices, and ISO27001 certified for information security.