Operational Considerations

Identity and Access Management Workforce Planning

Author: Ken Myers (Blue Falcon Cobra)

  • Identity and Access Management Workforce Planning

    Operational Considerations

    Identity and Access Management Workforce Planning



This article offers a practical approach to help identity and access management (IAM) practitioners and managers understand how to advise organization leadership on identity and access management workforce planning. While workforce planning is usually a Human Resources (HR) task, the IAM practitioner, their hiring managers, and their HR teams should know the tasks, knowledge, and skills expected across the IAM industry. By capturing the tasks, knowledge, and skills across the various identity and access management service areas, this competency model is tailorable to fit most organizations’ needs to include any sector-specific training. Using the U.S. Federal Government’s IAM frameworks as a working example, this article seeks to help mature the identity and access management profession and create a more consistent experience across organizations for identity and access management practitioners.

Keywords: identity and access management, cybersecurity, workforce planning, competency model, enterprise architecture, work roles

How to Cite:

Myers, K., (2022) “Identity and Access Management Workforce Planning”, IDPro Body of Knowledge 1(9). doi: https://doi.org/10.55621/idpro.85

Published on
30 Sep 2022
Peer Reviewed

By Kenneth M. Myers

© 2022 IDPro, Kenneth M. Myers


Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a challenging profession. An identity process is usually the first interaction a new employee or customer experiences with an organization and is often not smooth. These interactions may include:

  1. Filling out a job application multiple times for identity verification.

  2. Creating a username and password at almost every website for authentication.

  3. Making requests across multiple help desks asking for user access and sometimes waiting days or weeks for approval.

Identity and access management are fundamental to digital transactions. When non-identity professionals are responsible for everyday identity tasks, organizations may see misconfigurations, suboptimal user experience, or potential data leakage. Most importantly, organizations put themselves at an increased risk due to a lack of a holistic view of user access and security across the organization. To clarify job responsibilities and required skills, organizations should use a cybersecurity workforce framework for workforce planning.

  • A workforce framework is a set of tasks, knowledge, and skills (TKS) for someone to be effective in their job.

  • Workforce planning ensures an organization has the right talent to execute business and technical objectives.

While workforce planning and a workforce framework are primary tasks of human resources personnel, IAM practitioners need to be active participants in providing the TKS required for a workforce framework in order for a workforce planning effort to be successful. A workforce framework can also be an effective tool to allow practitioners to identify skill and knowledge gaps. A workforce framework consists of multiple parts.

  1. Competency – A method to assess someone. A competency is comprised of TKS statements.

  2. Task – an activity toward an achievement.

  3. Knowledge – A retrievable set of concepts within memory. Multiple statements may be required to complete a task.

  4. Skill – The capacity to perform an observable action. There is a many-to-1 or 1-to-many relationship between skill statements and task accomplishment.

  5. Work Role – A consistent method to describe the competencies and TKS needed to perform a responsible work area.

It’s worth noting a few clarifying points.

  1. A competency model is a set of TKS needed for effective job performance. A competency model is part of a workforce framework.

  2. In terms of workforce planning, a maturity model is a method to measure capabilities to a specific seniority or optimization level.

  3. A work role is not the same as a job title. A job title is usually organizationally set, while a work role is a consistent way to describe a type of work. A title may be specific to an organization, but a work role should be consistent across organizations.

A maturity model can incorporate a competency model to outline a collection of TKS per level of seniority, from entry-level to senior-level.

A simple line graph with Maturity on the y-axis and competency on the x-axis, showing the narrow to broad tasks, knowledge and skills expected at different levels.

Figure 1. Example of the interrelation of a competency model and maturity model

This article offers a practical approach to help identity and access management practitioners and managers understand how to advise organization leadership on identity and access management workforce planning. The next section outlines why the IAM profession needs its own workforce planning and competency model.


  • Access Management – Use identity information to provide access control to protected resources such as computer systems, databases, or physical spaces.

  • Attributes – Key/value pairs relevant to the digital identity (username, first name, last name, etc.).

  • Authenticator – The means used to confirm the identity of a user, processor, or device, such as a username and password, a one-time pin, or a smart card.

  • Binding – Associating an authenticator with an identity.

  • Competency Model – A collection of tasks, knowledge, and skills (TKS) needed for effective job performance. A competency model is part of a workforce framework.

  • Credential - A credential allows for the authentication of an entity by binding an identity to an authenticator.

  • Credential Management – How to issue, manage, and revoke authenticators bound to identities. Credential Management roughly corresponds to the IDPro term for Credential Services; we use the term Credential Management here to correlate to the Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management (FICAM) initiative’s terms. 1

  • Identity and Access Management – The discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons. 2

  • Identity and Access Management Workforce Planning – Activities involved in ensuring an enterprise identity and access management team are staffed with the right talent to execute business and technical objectives.

  • Identity Management – A set of policies, procedures, technology, and other resources for maintaining identity information.

  • Identity, Credential, and Access Management – Programs, processes, technologies, and personnel used to create trusted digital identity representations of individuals and non-person entities, bind those identities to credentials that may serve as a proxy in access transactions, and leverage the credentials to provide authorized access to an organization’s resources. 3

  • Workforce Framework – An outline of the job categories, work roles, and competency models needed to execute workforce planning.

  • Workforce Planning Activities that ensure an organization has the right talent to execute business and technical objectives.


  • CISM - Certified Information Security Manager

  • FICAM – Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management

  • IAM – Identity and Access Management

  • ICAM – Identity, Credential, and Access Management

  • MFA – Multi-factor authentication

  • NICE – National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education

  • NIST – National Institute of Standards and Technology

  • TKS – Tasks, Knowledge, and Skills

Problem Statement

While various research and frameworks exist on general cyber workforce planning, there is a lack of specific information for IAM workforce planning. The U.S. Federal Government has many publicly available documents that help see the evolution of cybersecurity workforce planning in large organizations with diverse cybersecurity workforce and enterprise architecture. The Office of Personnel Management, the head human resources organization for the U.S. Federal Government, identified identity management as a technical cybersecurity competency and references the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education Framework (NICE) as the primary source for identifying and defining cybersecurity roles. 4 However, the NIST NICE Framework does not include specific IAM roles. 5

Outside of the U.S. government, various frameworks may be adapted for general use. Additionally, there are a variety of vendor-specific training materials available, including:

  • Mastering Identity and Access Management with Microsoft Azure 6

  • Identity, Authentication, and Access Management in OpenStack 7

  • Oracle Identity and Access Management 8

  • Securing the Perimeter (using Gluu) 9

This focus on vendor-specific training is one potential reason why there appears to be a growth in knowledge around specific products versus a focus on the underlying standards and technologies that enable IAM. The 2021 IDPro Skills, Programs, and Diversity Survey also highlighted this finding in the context of the Dunning-Kruger Effect .

  • The survey noted that 16% of respondents are interested in vendor-neutral training leading to certification. The IDPro addressed this need with the new Certified Identity Professional vendor-neutral certification.

  • The survey noted a Dunning Kruger effect to describe why someone proficient in a particular vendor product could create a belief that they are experts in IAM overall.

Major cybersecurity certifications include Identification and Authentication or Identity and Access Management as a knowledge domain and include overviews on access, authentication, and authorization principles. While important, including IAM as a sub-topic in the field of cybersecurity is insufficient to help IAM practitioners learn what they need to know to work effectively in their roles. The next section outlines why IAM practitioners should be involved in workforce planning.

Why is IAM Workforce Planning Necessary?

This paper asserts that organizations need IAM workforce planning to ensure they hire and train their IAM staff and decrease potential IAM-related attack vectors. Without knowledge and training, IAM processes may be implemented by individuals with only a basic understanding of IAM best practices, resulting in regularly exploited attack vectors. For example, the top two exploit actions in the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report included phishing and stolen credentials. 10 One of the primary mechanisms to reduce the successful use of phishing and stolen credentials is to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA). Using MFA is a known best practice among IAM professionals, but is it known to software developers or system administrators? We can help address this competency gap by creating and growing a professional IAM workforce through workforce planning and a competency model.

Using the same example from above, implementing MFA is the top mitigation technique, but not all MFA is the same. 11 An untrained professional may recommend a non-phishing-resistant option that is more robust than just a username and password. A more experienced professional may additionally suggest a combination of phishing-resistant and non-phishing options with the risk and cost of each approach. The next section outlines how IAM practitioners can get involved in workforce planning.

Define Your IAM Team

The Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management (FICAM) architecture is a U.S. government reference architecture designed for federal agencies. 12 (See Figure 2 for a depiction of the FICAM architecture.) This paper takes the U.S. Federal ICAM architecture as a starting point for IAM workforce planning, including building a competency model. A workforce framework and competency model are guidelines, usually managed by your human resources office but developed by practitioners.

A figure showing that tasks depend on knowledge and skills. A figure showing that competency is built through tasks. A figure showing a work role is built on competencies.

Figure 2. Knowledge and Skill combine to encompass a task. Multiple tasks encompass a competency. Multiple competencies define a work role.

Even though the FICAM architecture was developed for the U.S. Government, many of the capabilities and services are common for all organizations in that all organizations should manage identities, credentials, and access. Organizations can adopt and adapt this approach to their specific identity reference architecture as well.

An image showing the breakdown of the FICAM architecture, highlighting how each component is defined and how they work together.

Figure 3. FICAM Architecture

The FICAM architecture defines five domain areas:

  1. identity management

  2. credential management

  3. access management

  4. (programmatic) governance

  5. federation

After defining your IAM architecture, the next step is to use the NIST NICE Framework to convert the FICAM architecture capabilities into TKS. The NIST NICE Framework uses a simple formula to develop easy-to-read and understandable statements.

  • Task – an activity toward an achievement.

  • Knowledge – A retrievable set of concepts within memory. Multiple statements may be required to complete a task.

  • Skill – The capacity to perform an observable action. There is a many-to-1 or 1-to-many relationship between skill statements and task accomplishment.

Table 1 contains an example of an ICAM Competency Model from the Identity Governance Framework. 13 This ICAM Competency Model is only an example and can be modified or altered to fit your organization’s needs. One distinct difference between the FICAM architecture and other IAM architectures is including identity proofing as part of the identity management service. In an enterprise scenario, identity proofing may be a human resources task as part of employee onboarding or a third-party business application task in customer onboarding. The FICAM Architecture has primarily focused on workforce identity use cases, and additional research is necessary to add customer or non-person TKS.

Identity Management Credential Management Access Management
  1. Perform identity proofing activities

  2. Develop an identity directory maintenance plan

  3. Review identity information for currency and accuracy

  4. Install, update, and maintain identity directory services

  5. Conduct role and group modeling

  6. Create and automate workflows for provisioning, entitlements management, and identity records management

  1. Enroll users in a credentialing process

  2. Bind an authenticator to an identity

  3. Perform Credential lifecycle management actions such as activate, renew, reset, suspend, revoke, renew, or terminate

  4. Issue Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and other types of credentials

  1. Configure and manage single sign-on services

  2. Configure directory and agent integration with Single Sign-On

  3. Identify methods and integrate applications with Single Sign-On

  4. Operate and Manage policy decisions and enforcement points

  5. Configure applications

  1. Knowledge of identity lifecycle management

  2. Knowledge of identity proofing methods, strengths, and weaknesses

  3. Knowledge of identity directory technology and services

  4. Knowledge of identity aggregation techniques

  5. Knowledge of privacy laws and impact on identity data collection and maintenance

  6. Knowledge of entitlements management and workflows

  1. Knowledge of credential lifecycle management

  2. Knowledge of authenticator types, strengths, and weaknesses

  3. Knowledge of authenticator binding techniques

  1. Knowledge of authorization models

  2. Knowledge of network and cloud authentication techniques

  3. Knowledge of access policy lifecycle management

  4. Knowledge of privilege access management

  5. Knowledge of network routing

  1. Skill in identifying an identity proofing process to an identity assurance level

  2. Skill in configuring and maintaining an identity directory service

  3. Skill diagnosing directory connection issues

  4. Skill in performing identity lifecycle management

  5. Skill in preparing and executing access reviews and recertifications

  6. Skill in managing entitlements

  1. Skill in identifying an authenticator to an authenticator assurance level

  2. Skill in binding authenticators to directory records across various authenticators

  3. Skill in performing credential lifecycle management

  1. Skill in determining an appropriate authorization model based on the use case

  2. Skill in implementing authentication techniques across multiple environments

  3. Skill in managing access requirements using a policy decision and enforcement point

  4. Skill in implementing and managing privileged access management tools

Table 1. An IAM Competency Model aligned with the FICAM Architecture

An organization can now define the roles necessary to perform the tasks with a competency model. The list below describes the most common organizational roles to operate an enterprise identity infrastructure. Smaller organizations may have fewer roles performing more tasks, while larger organizations have more roles performing more fine-grained tasks. The following table provides an example of how an identity task differs between a large organization of multiple operating divisions and a small organization of fewer operating divisions. For example:

Task Large Organization with Multiple Operating Divisions Small Organization of Two or Fewer Operation Divisions.
Perform identity proofing activities All identity proofing is outsourced to a 3 rd party with a system administrator configuring a federation with the 3 rd party. Human resource personnel typically perform workforce identity proofing. For business applications, may perform custom-coded knowledge-based questions to 3 rd party.
Issue authenticators and other types of credentials Multiple administrators for each type of credential. It may involve a dedicated PKI team. A small number of administrators perform this task for all credentials.
Configure directory and agent integration with Single Sign-On It may involve multiple teams and administrators depending on where a directory location and which office owns it (e.g., cloud, enterprise, or application) It may involve one team or administrator.
Provision accounts to endpoint services and applications Integrated solution with human resources and endpoints to keep attributes and entitlements synced. Various system administrators perform manual tasks.

Table 2. Sample IAM tasks based on organization size

The next section includes suggested NIST NICE work roles and an example evolution of an IAM team.

Evolve Your IAM Team

IAM-specific TKS now exist to define an overall IAM competency. This IAM competency can now be added to NIST NICE-defined work roles. The seven key roles, modeled after the NIST NICE Framework, within most IAM programs include:

  1. Program Manager – A managerial role responsible for leading, coordinating, communicating, and integrating the program’s efforts. This role is accountable for the program’s overall success, ensuring alignment with critical agency priorities. A program manager is the overall responsible party for the enterprise identity program. Depending on your organizational naming structure, this role may also be called a director, branch chief, or associate vice president. This person should report directly to an executive to ensure proper corporate support.

  2. System Administrator – A purely operational role that installs, configures, troubleshoots, and maintains server configurations (hardware and software) to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability. A system administrator usually manages accounts, firewalls, and patches. They are responsible for access control, credential management, and account creation and administration, and their role may be shared with other departments outside of IAM. Their actual job title may likely align with specific vendors (“Vendor Name” Administrator) or a function (Directory Administer).

  3. Software Developer – Generally either a system design or system operations role, this role is responsible for developing and writing new (or modifying existing) computer applications, software, or specialized utility programs following software assurance best practices. Most likely, software developers may code a login page or federation assertion for broader software development tasks.

  4. Network Specialist – A purely operational role that plans, implements, and operates network services/systems, including hardware and virtual environments. A network specialist may double as a system administrator or be responsible for establishing and maintaining network authentication and authorization services. This specialist is often shared with other departments outside of IAM.

  5. Enterprise Architect – Primarily a system design role that is responsible for developing and maintaining business, systems, and information processes to support enterprise mission needs. This includes developing information technology (IT) rules and requirements that describe baseline and target architectures. An identity enterprise architect may double as a security architect, or their work role is labeled a security architect.

  6. System Security Analyst – Often either a system design or system operations role responsible for analyzing and developing the integration, testing, operations, and maintenance of systems security. An analyst can be a technical or non-technical role that collaborates with application owners and other enterprise teams to translate business requirements into IAM workflows and processes. Sample tasks may include role mining, access requirements, attribute mapping, and similar IAM tasks.

  7. System Testing and Evaluation Specialist – Often either a system design or system operations role responsible for planning, preparing, and executing systems tests to evaluate results against specifications and requirements and analyze/report test results. They develop and execute software and IAM process testing before being implemented in a production environment. This role may have a title of QA or Tester.

An organization should have the ICAM team report to an executive steering or governance body to help integrate digital identity processes into overall enterprise risk management.

Evolution of Team Development

Most organizations follow a similar group development pattern that aligns with Tuckman’s group development stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. 14 This paper looks at the first three stages on the way to a well-performing IAM team.


In the forming stage, an organization learns about the opportunities and challenges of not having a dedicated IAM function. The organization agrees on creating a dedicated position as the start of a broader IAM function. Most organizations find that they need a central person to track or liaison across the various identity functions within an organization. This decision is usually precipitated by corporate events such as an audit finding, a cyber incident, or a new security shift. This role typically aligns with a Program Manager and may report to either a CIO or CISO or one level below an executive position. The primary function of the program manager in this stage is to identify, track, and report on high-risk identity processes and recommend methods to mitigate risk. They may not have a dedicated team or responsibility at this stage.


In storming, IAM responsibility is being established with broader organization acceptance. Leadership supports help gain operating division acceptance of some loss of IAM control for the greater good of organizational efficiency and potential cost savings. At this stage, the Program Manager has gained increased responsibility and can create a primary identity team of existing System Administrators or Software Developers depending on the organization’s enterprise architecture. These administrators may specialize in a single product or a specific technology, such as directories or authentication. Centralizing the responsibility and team may coincide with a shift in the technology approach. The Program Manager may identify additional positions, such as an Identity Architect, otherwise known as an Enterprise Architect, to develop rules and requirements for the desired identity infrastructure target state. Smaller organizations can utilize senior system administrators as an architect because they are most familiar with the systems, vendors, and organization’s mission to propose a target state. Larger organizations may choose an Architect removed from the day-to-day technical challenges to focus on longer-term planning.


In the norming stage, the IAM function is established with a dedicated team and established lines of responsibility. At this stage, the team is working productively together. The Program Manager may identify a need to expand organizational collaboration to an extended set of corporate members, including physical security, legal, privacy, human resources, information technology, and compliance offices. This comprehensive set of members may create a governance body or steering committee to help plan target state or organizational support to increase the return on investment of identity systems. For example:

  • Collaborate with human resources to support remote identity proofing.

  • Collaborate with physical security to integrate physical access control decisions with enterprise access management tools.

  • Collaborate with the compliance office to automate compliance reporting.

An organization may go into the performing stage or circle around based on organizational needs and direction. Identity is a critical component of enabling efficient business processes but also an area of organizational risk. Program managers may need to adapt to new initiatives such as cloud services migration or zero trust architecture.


Organizations need an IAM workforce framework to ensure they hire and train their identity workforce. The most prevalent cybersecurity attack vectors are identity-based. This article introduced an IAM workplace planning model based on TKS aligned with a large organization’s IAM enterprise architecture. It further aligned those tasks with how a typical organization identifies and staffs an IAM workforce. An organization can use the competency model to define consistent IAM roles across organizations or tailor them to fit their needs.

Author Bio

Kenneth Myers is a doctoral candidate with Marymount University and an Information Security IT Specialist with the U.S. General Services Administration. Reach him at kmm57090@marymount.edu or https://idmken.github.io .

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