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SAP Security Roles: Where Deployments Go Wrong

Ben Uher, Client Manager of Security & Controls, Symmetry

For many companies, user role management has changed from a routine SAP administration task into an ongoing security struggle. As IT landscapes become more complex and compliance requirements become more stringent, administering, reviewing and remediating SAP security roles eats up greater and greater amounts of time, energy and money.

Fortunately, this trajectory isn't inevitable or even necessary. SAP GRC software allows admins to safely provision SAP security roles by automating risk analysis, reporting and remediation. The problem is that although the technology has kept up with the needs of the SAP landscape, many companies have not kept up with the technology.

Sooner or Later, Ad Hoc Approaches to SAP Security Roles End in Disaster
When companies install and configure SAP, security roles are often treated as an afterthought. As they grow and face new compliance requirements or changing business processes, most organizations continue to do the minimum user role management at every stage. Instead of coming up with a generalizable security model and updating previous roles, they just tack on new ones and kick the can down the road.

In many cases, remediation efforts by security staff without sufficient GRC background end up making things worse. For example, prior to working with us, one of our clients hired a consultant to update their SAP security roles after a pattern of poor audit findings. In the end, their system was too complex to be usable - there were 3,000 roles for just 700 users!

Legacy Approaches Make SAP User Role Management Even Harder
Companies with poor audit findings naturally want to deal with remediation before modernizing their whole SAP security approach. However, they often get stuck in a vicious cycle when their outdated approach to security makes it impossible to catch up to the auditors. For organizations still using libraries full of Excel spreadsheets or even paper files, it's extremely difficult to track versions of SAP security roles let alone remediate SAP Segregation of Duties (SOD) conflicts. Even just pulling together transaction logs for an SAP audit can end up taking months of work, straining budgets and nerves past the breaking point.

Automation is the Key to Fixing SAP Security Roles
SAP GRC Access Control
automates the whole process, from basic bookkeeping to advanced remediation of SAP security roles. Audit reporting is scheduled automatically, and routed to the proper people for review, potentially saving months of time that would be spent compiling and signing off on documents.

User access review automation effortlessly checks and remediates excessive access rights. User role management is likewise simplified, allowing your SAP security team to handle day-to-day provisioning without incurring security and compliance risks or compromising audit readiness. Freed from the constant struggle to remediate past failures, companies are able to quickly transition to a continuous improvement approach to SAP security, yielding far better ROI at lower cost.

More Stories By Ben Uher

Ben Uher manages the SAP Security and Controls Practice at Symmetry where he leads a team of permanent Consultants in delivering SAP Security and GRC offerings to global organizations. His deep knowledge in everything SAP Security and GRC related has come from the opportunity to work with over 150 Organizations running SAP throughout various cycles of their implementations. Variation in industry, sector and size has provided a breadth of opportunity and experience in almost every facet of SAP technology spanning HANA, Fiori, ERP, BW/BI, HCM and SCM amongst others. Most importantly, Ben is driven based on results and continually strives to provide exceptional support for the organizations that rely on him and his team as trusted advisers for SAP Security and GRC support.

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