Scaling with Single Sign On

I’ve been with Blue Motor Finance for eighteen months now. To give an idea of the size of the business it’s just reached 100 employees, has a sales team that covers all of the UK and has financed over £200m. As part of that journey we’ve invested heavily in SSO.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SSO?

Blue like any consumer finance company has a lot of operational processes, these are supported and managed with a myriad of systems some built by us many more are services provided by third party vendors. At the last count there was over one hundred of these systems, they are all online and web based. Managing one hundred employees access to over 100 systems presents a challenge. Okta is one of several Identity providers (IDP) who offer a single sign on solution that integrates with 1000’s of online applications. It is effectively Lastpass for organisations. As our understanding of how Okta can speed up deployment has grown, we’ve made it a priority to use applications that support integration with it and more specifically offer Just In Time (JIT) provisioning. The big win with JIT provisioning is that in Okta we can decide which teams should have access to a particular app and the first time someone logs in their account will be setup automatically. For some applications a bit of additional admin is required but for many that is all there is to it.

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IS SSO AN ENTERPRISE FEATURE?

I’ve noticed that many SaaS providers put SSO into their Enterprise pricing bundle. I don’t understand why they would restrict access to a feature that removes deployment friction and drives adoption. It would be far better to offer this in the free or low cost option to try win hearts and minds.

APP DIRECTORY

Okta has an app store where it lists all the applications it has already integrated with, this is useful if say, you need a learning management system of which there are 1000’s available because you save time by only evaluating the ones that are already integrated.

Okta reaches out to the bigger SaaS providers to try and build out of the box integrations. These are listed in the App directory so it’s easy to see how well an integration is supported.

MOBILE STRATEGY

Okta provide decent apps for both mobile and tablet, this has proved valuable to our sales team who are on the road visiting our dealers.

THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

It wouldn’t be fair to leave the impression that there are no problems, some SaaS vendors haven’t quite figured out SSO yet and their integrations are a bit clunky. We initially launched with Expensify’s SAML integration and had to abandon it as their mobile app had several issue’s. Any “new” technology is going to run into this, as long as the benefits out-way the cost it shouldn’t prevent you from adopting.

CHALLENGES

Asking teams to use Okta is asking them to change and learn. Initially you should expect push back but we’ve found that our teams have over time come to rely on and appreciate the functionality Okta offers. It is at it’s most effective with the systems we’ve developed internally. The tech team here have been able to build and deploy smaller more focused systems without any additional deployment overhead.