Digital workplace
4 min read
5 April 2022

How does Single Sign-On work?

Kelly van der Horst
single sign-on

There are certain standards that a successful digital workspace needs to meet. One of these is making life easier for employees and helping them access the information and apps they need to get things done. A digital workspace that is well-adopted and popular with employees removes barriers to access, drives efficiency and supports better productivity.

One absolutely essential element of a good digital workplace that meets this brief is Single Sign-On (SSO). This allows employees to access all the different apps they need for work using their existing set of log-in credentials - username and password - to make everything easier to access.

We all know the pain of having to remember a zillion different passwords for multiple applications, and inevitably having to use password reset again and again. SSO helps avoid that situation, and is universally popular with employees who don't have to remember their passwords and IT helpdesks who don't have to take so many password-related calls.

In this post, we're going to explore Single Sign-On in more detail, covering what it is, how it works and why it is so important.

What are the benefits of Single Sign-On?

Better employee experience, higher productivity

SSO breeds an improved digital employee experience and increased productivity by reducing the time spent on logging in, which can be as much as thirty minutes per week, or twenty four hours in a year!

Stronger adoption

With its added user convenience, SSO also supports better overall adoption of different apps. People are far more likely to use an app when they don't have to log in, in the same way that people are far more likely to enter a room with an open door than a locked one!

Less pressure on IT functions and helpdesks

SSO also benefits IT functions. New applications are much easier to roll-out as you don't need to distribute usernames and passwords, and the ease of use also helps create a good first impression. Your IT helpdesk will greatly appreciate not having to spend so much time on password reset requests, meaning they can dedicate more energy to higher value activities.

Better security

Another key advantage is that SSO provides much better security around ensuring people who leave a company cannot access any applications they should no longer be able to. When that persona access rights are revoked with SSO, they won't be able to access any of your organisation's apps and systems. SSO can also work with multiple factor authentication; if there are additional levels of security required, you need to ensure the right standards across your digital environment.

What are some examples of using SSO?

There are many examples of where SSO can be very useful:

  • An employee wants to log an IT issue using a tool like Zendesk or ServiceNow
  • Somebody wants to request annual leave on an HR system like Workday
  • A manager wants to go in and then approve that annual leave, again on Workday
  • Somebody needs to order a plane ticket through a corporate travel portal,
  • They then pay for a train ticket to get to the airport and log the expenses on a system like Concur
  • An employee wants to access documents relating to their project which are kept on Google Drive.

Without SSO in place, all of these examples would require a person to remember a separate username and password, and then experience the inconvenience of logging in.

SSO and the digital workspace

SSO really comes into its own when you use it to access an adaptive workspace like Workspace 365 that includes information from all your different apps in one environment. Your employees have just one secure workspace with one set of credentials, and don't have to visit all the separate apps. Instead, they appear as Micro Apps which are focused on a single task, allowing users to view the most critical information or carry out the most major tasks.

With Workspace 365, Single Sign-On is a critical part of the platform, and it even allows you to access some apps outside the Azure marketplace (much of the time, SSO will be based around Microsoft log-ins).

Everybody loves SSO

SSO is important. Employees love it because it saves time and hassle. IT functions love it because it supports robust security, saves time and effort and makes users happy. Product owners and digital workspace teams love it because it increases the adoption of their tools.

Want to see how SSO works in a product like Workspace 365? Then try a free demo!

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