What is physical identity and access management (PIAM)?

Physical Identity and Access Management
Access Analytics / Blog

What is physical identity and access management (PIAM)?

While security professionals might think Physical Identity and Access Management (PIAM) is only for larger organizations with big budgets, the technology is now available for companies of all sizes who need to deliver physical access in a more granular way and better manage their safety, security and compliance obligations.

In this article we will help you understand what PIAM is, its basic features, its benefits and why its important.

What is PIAM?

PIAM is a framework of business processes, policies and technologies that orchestrate the management of identities and their physical access to facilities. With a PIAM framework in place, physical security managers can holistically control physical access at the role, policy or attribute level for every employee, contractor, vendor, customer or visitor.

These technologies typically enforce user physical access profiles through integrations with physical access control systems. They may also integrate with HR, ERP, learning management or other corporate systems to support the ongoing management of the physical identity.

PIAM systems can be deployed on-premise or deployed in a hybrid-cloud model.

On a functional level, PIAM solutions have the following features:

  • a central database of individual physical identities and their profile attributes for every employee, contractor, vendor, customer and visitor;
  • they manage access rights to individuals based on roles, policy, attributes (such as health status or purchase orders) or requests;
  • assign, update and remove individual profiles and their physical access;
  • manage credentials or badges that deliver physical access to an identity;
  • protect and secure physical facilities in line with the security plan;
  • integrate with corporate HR, learning management and ERP systems so physical access rights dynamically align with corporate identity profiles
  • power intelligent process automation to improve efficiency and reduce errors;
  • deliver reporting for physical access governance, risk and compliance activities.

What are the benefits of PIAM

One of the main features of PIAM solutions is the automation of core physical access management processes. PIAM systems can be used to initiate, approve, record and update user access profiles and their related physical access permissions in a way that improves productivity, lowers processing cost and improves security and compliance outcomes. PIAM systems deliver the following benefits:

  • Improved policy compliance – Access privileges are granted according to policy, and all individuals and services are properly authenticated, authorized and audited.
  • Improved security posture – Companies that properly manage identities have greater control of user access, which reduces the risk of security breaches.
  • Improved resource utilization – Automating physical access management processes allows security operations to operate more efficiently by decreasing the effort, time and money that would be required to manage access additions, changes and removals manually at scale.
  • Employee self-service – common physical access management processes can be managed by workers off-site, allowing security operations to focus on critical risks and security management rather than administrative tasks.
  • Security risk management – PIAM solutions better enforce policy compliance around access approvals and privileges added, and address issues regarding privilege creep, insider threat and hybrid working arrangements.
  • Adaptable physical access delivery – with hybrid working arrangement now commonplace PIAM solutions provide attribute-based physical access, to ensure workers have the right physical access every time they enter facilities. 
  • Improved audit outcomes – PIAM systems help companies demonstrate that physical access management processes are enforced, auditable reporting available on demand.

Why is PIAM important?

PIAM automates physical access management tasks, removing human error and enabling attribute-based physical access controls to be put in place. This ensures that people only have the physical access they need to do their job, which improves safety and security outcomes. Additionally, it delivers a full audit trail of physical access management processes so that companies can demonstrate compliance to their auditors.

Businesses leaders and security departments were always responsible for the security of corporate facilities, and the protection of the people, information and assets they contain.

The global pandemic has fundamentally changed how often workers need to go into the workplace and the physical access rights they need to do their job. The manual processes companies used to manage physical access are now a safety, security and compliance risk they cannot afford.

It is clear that companies can gain quantifiable safety, security, productivity and compliance advantages by implementing PIAM tools integrated into the existing physical access control system.

To find out more about RightCrowd PIAM solutions contact us.