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A rare individual

Feb 09, 20043 mins
Access ControlEnterprise Applications

* How a consultant could help with your identity management project

You’ll recall, I hope, that in the last issue I almost despaired of finding an answer to the problem of implementing identity projects over the irrational fears of non-technical, even technophobic, people. Most of the replies I’d gotten to the problem stressed the ability of the technology to protect data ownership as well as data security and privacy. We’re all aware of that, but we still need to convince people in the enterprise that there is benefit to giving up control of the flow of data.

It was at this point that a note popped into my inbox from an old friend, Sandra Harrell, whose words and deeds have graced this newsletter (as well as the Novell NetWare Tips newsletter) in the past. Sandra is president and CEO of DSI Consulting ( and a former Novell consultant (back when that meant something). It appeared that the problem touched a nerve with her – something you shouldn’t do without being fully aware of the consequences. But I’ll let her speak for herself:

“This is a subject so near and dear to my heart – it is something that goes along with EVERY technology project – not just identity management. The key to a successful project is to have a facilitator (in my experience, this is a disconnected third party) who will bring all interested parties together and “understand” the unique needs of each (we call this a Requirements Assessment/Gap Analysis and it involves all interested parties being interviewed, both together and separately). This person has to understand psychology, technology and socio-economics as well as the technology aspects of the project/goal.”

Sounds like a rare individual indeed, but in reality, a true consultant is just what the doctor (or, in this case, Harrell) ordered. She goes on:

“This then brings me to the definition of a ‘consultant.’  So many over the past few years have attached this moniker to their resumes, but they do the real consultants an injustice.  For example, I have 15 years of experience in the world of IT, but I have 27 years in the world of business – all enterprise level.  I understand political machinations; I understand the egos of dept heads and the little yes men that serve their egos. I understand how to make them see the reality and thus I know how to play the role of mediator.  In the end, the customer gains exceptional results, and a project that is successful because someone like me, a real consultant, knows how to bring all parties together to achieve the goals.”

Strong words, I know, but very true also. Too many people say “consultant” but mean “technician” and many of us fall into that trap.

As Sandra concluded, “An identity management project is not just the software, the budget, the project plan or the hardware – it is about people.”

Ignore the people, their prejudices and idiosyncrasies at your own peril. Don’t assume that everyone sees the advent of new technology as a good thing. And don’t be afraid to call on the services of someone who understands people and business as well as technology.