Building Competitive Edge in User On-boarding

Hasanthi Purnima Dissanayake
5 min readJun 9, 2019
User On-boarding

What is User On-boarding in IAM

User on-boarding is a very broad topic, first of all let’s check what’s the wikipedia definition for user on-boarding

User on-boarding is the process of improving a person’s success with a product or service. This term is often used in reference to software products, and it can be done in a manual or automated way.

When a new employee is hired or when an employee is leaving the company, it is a big process to include or exclude him to the organization. I have listed few tasks that need to be carried out when a new employee is hired.

  • Add the employee to the employees list.
  • Generate the employee number
  • Give access to file systems, databases ,etc.
  • Provide a staff identity card to the employee
  • Generate an email address for the employee
  • Give car passes and GYM passes
  • Provide access to the required applications with necessary permissions

These things should be done in a shorter period before the employee is getting frustrated as the employee can not do anything without having above privileges.


This is Bob. He got a job at ABC company. This is his first job. The enthusiastic guy went to the office early in the morning. He tried to enter the car park, unfortunately it required a car pass which Bob does not have yet. So he parked the car by the road and tried to enter the office building. The front door is locked and it required a staff identity card to unlock the door. Bob had to wait sometime near the front door , at last a security officer came and opened the door. Bob came to his seat and tried to login to his mail. Bob did not have wi-fi access. He was waiting at his chair staring till he get access to the systems. A HR guy came with a lengthy form and asked Bob to complete it.

The worst day of Bob

This is Tom. He got the job at XYZ company. Before coming to work he self registered himself to the system by using his mobile phone. He got required permissions through workflow approvals. He entered his fingerprint and e-signature to the system too. Once Tom reached the car park he could open the gate using his fingerprint and park the car there. He entered to the office building using his fingerprint. Tom could focus on gaining the domain knowledge and start working on his very first day of work.

Happy and satisfied Tom

User on-boarding Methods

  • Manual on-boarding: In this mechanism the HR team manually registers the employee to the system and provide the privileges to the users manually.
  • On-boarding using tools: In this mechanism all the required tasks are done in an automated manner by using a software or a tool. So in this mechanism either the user himself can register to the system or an administrator can register the user to the system.

Challenges in User on-boarding

When using the manual user on-boarding, there are common set of issues the organizations face.

  • Takes more time
  • Administrators have lots of burden
  • Make all the processes add user, manage user and delete user complex
  • Human mistakes can happen
  • Less employee satisfaction (What if the new employee needs to fill lengthy forms by hand in the very first day)
  • Security issues when storing sensitive data

The solution is to use an automated way for user on-boarding and off-boarding. So Identity and Access Management tools can be integrated with the HR for this.

Because of the above discussed issues of the manual user on-boarding organizations tend to use some IAM tools, but even with the tools there can be few issues like :

  • Tools are complex to use
  • Needs advanced training to use the tools
  • The tool needs constant monitoring
  • The tool is designed for high technical people
  • Messages are not comprehensive and UX is not user friendly
  • The tools are very cost

How to create a competitive edge in User on-boarding using tools.

  • Create simple user manuals on how to use the tool. (Manuals, Screen Casts, Videos)
  • Add instructions to the tool itself (Setup wizards,Tool tips and hints)
  • Make the on-boarding process simple - Avoid to engage users with complex components and lengthy forms
  • The tool should be customizable - Based on the target audience the tool should be adjustable. (Ex : Support for localization)
  • Attractive and user friendly user interfaces - The first impression matters. So, when a user starts with the tool , the tool should be polite. The user should be greeted, and helped through out the first usage.
  • Supporting for SSO and social account logging
  • Showing progress bars and check lists - So the user knows what is happening and how long he needs to wait for the current task to be completed.
  • Provide capability of e-signature facility
  • Support on-boarding facility using mobile devices, laptops, desktops ,tabs. - So the on-boarding is more easier and reachable
  • Using workflows. This can be used to inform other parties about the on-boarded user.
  • Use secured mechanisms when storing data and transferring data.
  • Provide end user self service (self registration/ password reset)


High quality user on-boarding can cause short term and long term success of a product. So now a days most of the organizations pay high attention on improving the user on-boarding programs. The main reason for this is because poor on-boarding is an efficiency issue which causes the employee frustration and this leads to employee turnover. The poor user off-boarding is a security issue where the leavers can attack and misuse organizational data.

Sometimes too much automation also can lead to unwanted complexities and high cost. Further involving the IT team to deal with the user on-boarding instead of the HR team can be also caused to some sort of issues. So for the user on-boarding in-order to create the competitive edge

  • The organization needs to find the correct amount of automation on on-boarding process.
  • Need to build a bridge between the IT team and HR team
  • The user entered data should be validated and confirmed.