IAM vs IGA Software: What's the Difference and What Features Should You Look For?

Understand the difference between IAM and IGA software, and discover key features to consider when choosing between them. Make an informed decision for effective identity and access management.
IAM vs IGA Software: What's the Difference and What Features Should You Look For

In today's fast-paced digital world, managing identity and access efficiently is crucial to protect sensitive information and maintain organizational security.

This brings us to Identity and Access Management (IAM) software and Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) software, two critical components in this process. IAM focuses on managing the user identities, provisioning or de-provisioning accounts, while IGA oversees defining roles, policies, and procedures that determine how these identities behave within a system.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, it's important to understand their distinctive functionalities and differences for optimized results.

The purpose of this software comparison article is to provide insights into what each type of software offers, weigh up their key features alongside use cases with examples so that you can make an informed decision when choosing either an IAM or IGA solution for your organization’s needs. Keep reading as we break down the similarities and differences between both types of systems!

Understanding IAM Software

Identity and Access Management (IAM) software is primarily responsible for assuring that only authorized individuals have access to the specific resources they need within an organization.

The key functionalities of IAM software include:

  1. User provisioning and de-provisioning: Streamlines creating, updating, and revoking user accounts.
  2. Authentication and authorization: Ensures appropriate methods are used to verify users' identities before granting them access.
  3. Single sign-on (SSO): Simplifies the login process by enabling users to log in just once for multiple applications.
  4. Role-based access control (RBAC): Manages permissions based on job roles rather than individual user accounts.
  5. Password management: Helps maintain secure passwords with features like automated password resets or multi-factor authentication.

Use cases and benefits of IAM software

Effective implementation of an IAM solution results in enhanced security, increased efficiency from reduced time spent authenticating users with multi-factor systems, improved compliance with regulatory requirements, lower risk associated with unauthorized access incidents, cost savings due to fewer data breaches caused by human error or misused privileges.

Examples of popular IAM solutions

Some well-known vendors offering comprehensive identity management platforms include Okta Identity Cloud, Microsoft Azure Active Directory Services, Google Workspace Identity Services, IBM Security Identity and Access Assurance, and OneLogin Unified Access Management Platform.

These solutions cater to various organizational needs by providing a range of functionalities for managing different aspects of user access rights within their respective ecosystems.

Understanding IGA Software

As mentioned, IGA software focuses on defining, enforcing, and auditing policies related to user access management, ensuring that every role within the organization has appropriate permissions in line with the principle of least privilege. It’s a good idea to learn

more about IGA software before taking the plunge, but here’s an overview to get you started.

The key functionalities of IGA software include:

  1. Identity lifecycle management: Manages an identity's entire journey, from creation to termination.
  2. Role management and governance: Defines roles based on job functions or specific workflows, allowing for granular control over access.
  3. Segregation of duties (SoD) enforcement: Prevents conflicts of interest by ensuring individuals do not have conflicting responsibilities or privileged access to sensitive information simultaneously.
  4. Access request and approval workflows: Simplifies requesting new permissions while maintaining compliance through a documented process for granting authorization.
  5. Compliance and audit reporting: Assists in tracking user activities to identify potential risks or non-compliant behavior swiftly.

Use cases and benefits of IGA software

Effective use of an IGA solution can help organizations:

  • Reduce security threats originating from internal sources while conforming to industry regulations or legal requirements
  • Improve cooperation between IT staff members across multiple areas such as Human Resources Services
  • Streamline permission allocation processes resulting in cost savings due to resource optimization
  • Foster a stronger security culture by promoting awareness of organizational policies and procedures

Examples of popular IGA software solutions

Some leading vendors in the IGA domain include SailPoint IdentityIQ, Saviynt Enterprise

IGA, Omada Identity Suite, IBM Security Verify Governance (formerly known as IBM Cloud Identity), and Oracle Identity Governance.

These platforms cater to organizations' diverse needs through their robust identity governance mechanisms ensuring secure management of user access within various IT ecosystems.

IAM vs IGA: The Key Differences

Now you know the basics, it’s worth going back over the areas in which these technologies differ from one another:

Core focus and scope

While IAM solutions mainly deal with access-related management, such as user authentication, authorization, and password management, IGA software is more focused on policy governance, role definition, enforcing segregation of duties, and compliance reporting.

Functionality and features comparison

  1. IAM software strengths and limitations: Provides essential access control functionalities for a secure IT environment. However, it might lack the sophisticated governance capabilities offered by an IGA solution.
  2. IGA software strengths and limitations: Delivers advanced identity-based policy implementation but might not cover some basic yet crucial access controls found in traditional IAM platforms.

Understanding the organizational requirements

When choosing between IAM or IGA software for your company, it's critical to consider your organization's distinctive needs pertaining to regulatory compliance, as well as specific industry standards that must be followed while managing identities/access rights effectively within given systems.

Factors to consider when choosing between IAM & IGA

Both types of platforms serve differing aspects related to security infrastructure, hence understanding which combination aligns best with current knowledge gaps and strategies should form part decision-making criteria employed across organizations.

Evaluate risk levels, security objectives, internal processes, workforce size and complexity, IT infrastructure type (on-premise or cloud-based), budgetary constraints, and integration requirements before making an informed decision.

Features to Look for in IAM and IGA Software

There’s a lot to think about when weighing up your options, whether choosing IAM or IGA solutions, so here are some points to keep in mind:

Common features shared by IAM and IGA solutions

While both software types cater to different aspects of identity management, they share some essential modules like user provisioning/deprovisioning, role-based access control (RBAC), and basic compliance reporting.

IAM-specific features to consider

When assessing an ideal IAM solution for your organization, look out for these functionalities:

  • Robust multi-factor authentication (MFA)methods
  • Comprehensive single sign-on protocols
  • Password policies and enforcement mechanisms
  • A highly available architecture that ensures uninterrupted services even during times of high demand or system failures

IGA-specific features to consider

An effective IGA platform should include advanced governance capabilities such as:

  • Segregation of duties (SoD) enforcement
  • Customizable workflows for managing permission requests/approvals in adherence with established organizational norms
  • Granular auditing/reporting tools ensuring regulatory requirements are met comprehensively
  • Integration potential across existing enterprise platforms/systems, seamlessly connected through dependable APIs

Customization and integration capabilities

As every organization has unique requirements, it's essential to seek a solution that offers the flexibility for customization according to your specific needs.


Furthermore, consider software platforms providing seamless integration with other systems in your IT infrastructure (e.g., HR tools, Active Directory Services), streamlining collaborative efforts among various departments within the organization while maintaining synchronization of user data consistently across integrated components.

Making an Informed Decision

You can’t go into the process of picking IAM or IGA software without the right info to hand, or the right approach to the decision making process. This involves:

Evaluating your organization's needs and goals

To choose the most suitable IAM or IGA solution, begin by understanding your specific requirements in terms of access management, identity governance policies, data protection strategies as well as compliance with industry standards/regulatory guidelines where applicable.

Conducting a thorough software assessment

Compare various solutions/platforms considering key parameters such as:

  • Feature sets offered within potential packages on your shortlist
  • Ease-of-use or approachability so that team members can get up to speed swiftly

Cost Considerations and ROI Analysis

Estimate different cost components involved, including licensing fees, implementation charges and infrastructure investments needed. Consider both short & long-term spending projected, while assessing potential savings/returns that can be realized by adopting the software as well to justify the upfront and ongoing investment.

Seeking vendor support and expertise

Identify vendors that provide reliable customer support post-implementation, as well as have a track record for going the extra mile for clients and being capable of tailoring what they offer according to their needs.

Considerations for implementation and Scalability

Ensure the chosen software solution not only meets your organization's current requirements but also offers flexibility to accommodate business expansions, workforce size changes, or regulatory updates later on.


There’s a lot to digest when learning about IAM vs IGA software, but hopefully you now have a good grounding in this topic, and can go on to expand your understanding before eventually picking a platform which meets the needs of your company today, tomorrow and in years to come.