As employees join or leave an organization, a flood of manual processes follow across HR, IT, managers, and other departments. They coordinate tasks like enabling accounts, granting access, and offboarding once people depart.
The traditional manual approach, such as using spreadsheets and manually tracking completed or uncompleted tasks, leads to headaches, errors, and wastes time.
Enter Microsoft’s Entra ID Governance, a compelling solution to automate critical parts of user lifecycle management.
Its Lifecycle Workflow capability allows you to set up processes that automatically trigger when certain conditions are met. No more manual tracking and follow-ups; this solution sets up essential onboarding and offboarding tasks across your cloud and on-premises applications.
Understanding Microsoft Entra ID Governance
Microsoft Entra ID Governance, is a powerful cloud-delivered identity management solution that empowers organizations to manage their user lifecycle efficiently.
It offers a comprehensive set of features and capabilities designed to simplify the complex tasks associated with identity and access management.
With Entra ID Governance, you can:
- Automate user onboarding and offboarding.
- Streamline access provisioning and de-provisioning.
- Enhance security through role-based access control.
- Monitor and audit user activities.
- Ensure compliance with policies and regulations.
This automation saves time and reduces the risk of human error, ensuring a smooth and secure transition for employees entering or exiting your organization.
Before diving into the technical aspects of Entra ID Governance, it’s essential to understand the licensing options available.
As of September 20, 2023, Entra ID Governance pricing options include monthly and annual subscriptions. Opting for a yearly commitment often results in cost savings compared to month-to-month payments.
Additionally, if your organization has an existing Entra ID P2 license, it may have the opportunity to step up to Entra ID Governance at a reduced rate. This is an attractive choice for those organizations already invested in Microsoft’s ecosystem.
Automation for User Onboarding and Offboarding
For onboarding new hires, Lifecycle Workflows enables creating processes that kick off automatically when someone’s start date approaches.
For instance, you could:
Enable their Office 365 accounts a few days before they begin.
Add them to the proper security and distribution groups for access.
Grant them membership in specific Teams and SharePoint sites.
Send welcome emails with links to resources for new employees.
Assign software licenses and other applications automatically.
On the flip side, offboarding users is equally essential when people leave the organization. Lifecycle Workflows enable revoking access and cleaning up accounts by creating workflows triggered by an employee’s leave date.
For instance, you can:
Disable accounts in Entra ID and Microsoft 365.
Remove users from all email distribution lists.
Take users out of Microsoft Teams channels.
Revoke application access and licenses.
Delete accounts or convert to shared mailboxes.
One powerful feature is integrating offboarding workflows across other SaaS applications your business uses. The custom connector functionality lets you incorporate calling APIs or scripts that restrict access in tools like Salesforce, Slack, Box, and many more.
There’s no longer a need for IT to manually go into each system to offboard employees who have left.
Employee Leave Date Attribute
A noteworthy attribute in Entra ID is the Employee Leave Date (EmployeeLeaveDateTime). As an essential attribute for managing offboarding processes effectively, it specifies when an employee is departing the organization.
However, it’s not visible in the portal by default.
You can set the attribute via PowerShell commands, REST calls, or the Microsoft Graph API.
More details can be found here:
When populated on a user account, Entra ID Governance triggers configured offboarding tasks based on the exact leave date. It’s vital that you accurately set the leave date attribute to automatically trigger offboarding workflows accurately.
Having a specific employee leave date is essential for Entra ID Governance. Without manual tracking, the platform automatically executes pre-defined processes for gracefully revoking access and managing user lifecycle events.
Custom Extensions and Logic Apps
Entra ID Governance allows organizations to extend its capabilities through custom extensions and Logic Apps. This flexibility allows you to integrate with external systems and services, further enhancing automation and security.
Custom extensions and Logic Apps enable you to:
Integrate with third-party applications.
Perform specific tasks based on user attributes.
Automate complex processes that interact with external services.
Extend Entra ID Governance to address unique organizational needs.
Custom extensions and Logic Apps enable you to customize Entra ID Governance. The end product best suits your environment and use cases, unlocking even more value from the platform.
Efficient automation relies on proper scheduling.
It guarantees that your defined automatic workflows will run consistently instead of relying on manual triggering. This provides predictable execution of critical user lifecycle processes.
Entra ID Governance enables workflow scheduling to run at specific intervals, such as daily or according to your organization’s timeline. More frequent scheduling, such as hourly, ensures automated tasks are executed timely when new user lifecycle events occur.
Monitoring your scheduled workflows is simplified through native integration with Azure Monitor and log analytics. It shows which workflows succeeded or failed, how long execution took, and other insights to optimize automation.
Combining thoughtful scheduling workflows with monitoring capabilities can help you enhance the reliability of automated tasks and catch any issues that need addressing. It unlocks the true potential of Entra governance workflows to manage identities and access at scale consistently.
Testing and On-Demand Execution
Thoroughly testing automated workflows is essential before deploying them into production.
Entra ID Governance enables on-demand execution of workflows outside of the scheduled intervals. This on-demand testing allows organizations to validate that the workflows function as intended and within the proper timeline.
Comprehensive testing and on-demand have several benefits:
Spot any potential issues upfront. Addressing these issues before the automatic workflows run eliminates any issues that might derail smooth user lifecycle management.
It provides an opportunity to tweak configurations and ensure automation aligns with business processes.
Instill confidence in the automation system among users and administrators.
Prevent costly errors or security breaches, such as operational disruptions, data breaches, or regulatory non-compliance.
Ensure that automated workflows adhere to regulatory compliance and internal policies, such as data protection laws, security standards, and industry regulations.
Assess scalability and performance optimization with growing user numbers or data volumes.
Seek and incorporate from end-users and administrators to further fine-tune the platform.
Enhanced risk mitigation.
Organizations should use on-demand execution to simulate real-world scenarios and fine-tune workflows before deploying them to production environments.
Security Roles and Permissions
Security significantly influences automating identity and access management tasks.
Entra ID Governance uses specific role-based access control permissions to restrict who can create Logic Apps and manage governance workflows. Organizations need to carefully evaluate and assign these roles to ensure that only authorized individuals have access.
Key considerations include:
Adhering to data protection and privacy compliance.
Observing the principle of least privilege and Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) principles.
Enabling audit trails and accountability.
Testing and validating controls.
Regularly reviewing and updating as roles and workflows change.
Training users on their permissions.
Integrating with identity and access management systems for centralized user provisioning and de-provisioning. This enforces consistent security policies across the organization.
Having disaster recovery and contingency plans.
Proper security role planning safeguards sensitive data while allowing automation to enhance efficiency. It requires balancing access needs with constraints to mitigate risks.
Automating and streamlining identity management processes and user lifecycle management isn’t a one-off thing but a continuous affair.
That’s why prioritizing process optimization should matter beyond the initial automation.
Continually reviewing and optimizing these processes ensures your organizations can fully leverage the platform’s capabilities.
Entra ID Governance also allows organizations to gradually expand automation from handling common elements to encompassing various departments and roles. This expansion increases efficiency, consistency, and accuracy in user lifecycle management.
Whether onboarding, offboarding, or role changes, automation aligns perfectly with large-scale organizational changes. It simplifies access and permission adjustments and ensures smooth transitions.
Large organizational changes also represent an opportunity to re-evaluate permissions and access. Automation simplifies adjusting user roles and entitlements when departments merge or split.
Maintaining a process optimization mindset ensures automation aligns with the evolving needs of your organization.
Documentation and Alert Setup
Transparent documentation and robust alert systems are essential for Entra ID Governance to operate effectively.
The platform provides the means to automate user management workflows. However, it’s equally crucial to document these automated processes comprehensively.
Transparently documenting the workflows, logic, and expected outcomes:
Provides detailed insights into how automated governance workflows function.
Enables all stakeholders to understand automation.
Foster transparency and accountability.
Enhance efficient troubleshooting.
Promote consistency and knowledge transfer within the organization.
Ensure accountability and compliance.
Moreover, setting up alerts within Entra ID Governance is a proactive measure to monitor automation activities. Configuring alerts generates notifications when key activities occur.
Success and failure alerts let you promptly resolve problems before they surge. Not to mention, tuning alerts to signal anomalies also improves monitoring.
This proactive approach enhances the overall effectiveness of automated user onboarding and offboarding. It ensures that the organization can swiftly address any challenges arising during the automation journey.
Automating workflows for user onboarding and offboarding via Entra ID is a technological upgrade and strategic move to empower your organization. It frees up valuable time and resources, allowing your teams to focus on more strategic initiatives.
To get the most out of the platform, consider working with our experts to guide you every step of the way.
Take the first step now and connect with Agile IT to work with a cloud specialist to help you achieve your automation goals.
Learn more about Agile IT solutions aligned with Microsoft Entra here: