Automated Provisioning vs. Manual Provisioning: Which Is Right for Your Business?


Any business would consider provisioning user accounts a crucial procedure. It enables workers to access systems and tools required for their duties. Provisioning can be done through manual processes or automation. Hence, which method best suits your small business? In this article, we will compare manual and automated provisioning to assist you in making an informed decision.

Defining Manual Provisioning

With manual provisioning, IT administrators do the following to user accounts when necessary:

  • Create

  • Modify

  • Disable

  • Delete

Typically, this is done through the following methods:

  • Individual service consoles

  • Emails

  • Help desk tickets

  • Manual processes

Manual provisioning has some downsides:

  • It is very time-consuming. Onboarding requires hours of manual work for IT staff across different systems just assigning employee accounts. This is a waste of time that could have been put into other more strategic activities.

  • It often involves delays. This means that it can take days or even weeks for employees to gain access to all the applications and systems they require. This lag time impacts productivity.

  • It is prone to errors. Doing it manually exposes one to typing or overlooking errors. It also could lead to errors with potential security ramifications.

  • It lacks visibility. It is challenging to have an overview of user access and entitlement without a well-coordinated system in place.

  • It doesn’t scale well. As companies increase in size, manual processes become increasingly complex.

However, manual provisioning remains feasible for small businesses with only a few employees and simple IT requirements. In contrast, it becomes impractical for midsize and large organizations.

In itself, it is important for any company. Thus user provisioning is applied as either manual or automated provisioning. Being able to manage user accounts depending on necessity is a big deal, especially with input from professionals. User provisioning also allows administrators to access all applications and accounts remotely or on-premise.

Defining Automated Provisioning

Setup and management processes are automated through the use of a software tool. Moreover, it may as well automatically delete user profiles and permissions. It typically works by:

  • Working in conjunction with HR, IT, identity management, and other vital systems.

  • Keeping track of the identity data/profiles is a process that involves the synchronization of information coming from primary sources.

  • Using predefined policies and approval workflows

It is possible to provision accounts across several IT systems, as well as applications, in an automated way.

Some key benefits of automated provisioning include:

  • It’s faster. Provisioning takes hours and even days in manual provisioning while automation reduces it to just minutes, a few hours. Instant is all that employees have to wait for so that they reach out to needed resources.

  • It enhances security. The advantage of rule-based systems is that the automated rules and processes greatly reduce the chances of human error. This implies that built approvals and checks are put in place to ensure that safety measures are carried out accordingly.

  • It enables governance. This also provides a full view of entitlements and audit trails required for regulation compliance. These can be described as common among them including GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS.

  • It scales easily. Once configured, automated workflows seamlessly provision thousands of users without getting backlogged.

  • It optimizes costs. Automation cuts IT expenses associated with manual administration and help desk tickets.

According to a survey, manual processes take an average of 4 hours to provision a new user, while automated provisioning solutions can accomplish it in just 11 minutes. And 78% of IT leaders say automated provisioning has reduced costs and improved operational efficiency.

Which Is Right for Your Organization?

So how do you determine if manual or automated provisioning is a better fit for your company? Here are a few key factors to consider:

  • Number of users. If your company has hundreds or thousands of employees, automated provisioning is likely the better choice. It simply isn’t feasible to manage that volume manually.

  • Number of applications. The more apps and systems employees need access to, the more valuable automation becomes. It avoids the complexity of manual provisioning across many platforms.

  • Rate of growth. Scaling from 20 employees to 50 is much different than going from 500 to 1,000. Faster growth makes a strong case for automated provisioning.

  • Need for governance. Highly regulated industries require audit trails and compliance reporting. Automated solutions can provide these. Also, examples of highly regulated industries are healthcare and finance.

  • Current inefficiencies. If provisioning bottlenecks are causing significant pain already, automation can provide rapid relief.

  • IT sophistication. Automated provisioning can be done fast in mature IT organizations since it has the requisite resources including skilled personnel.

Regardless of your position, talk to the IT Leaders. Consult with identity management professionals when assessing provisioning methods. Consulting services will help you choose the best solution for your business in terms of security infrastructure.

Frequently Asked Questions

The main differences are the following:

  • In manual provisioning, IT administrators carry out individual account settings across different systems.

  • Pre-set rules and workflows for auto-provisioning accounts and access are characteristic of automated solutions.

It takes a lot of time, isn’t accurate, and doesn’t scale as well in a manual process. On the other hand, automated provisioning is faster and more secure. It also has greater clarity, ease of use, and visibility for governance and improved efficiency.

Key features include the following:

  • For instance, integration to enterprise data sources such as HR, IT, and identity management

  • Rule-based workflows and approvals

  • Preconfigured connectors to target applications

  • Role/attribute mapping

  • Reporting and analytics

  • Self-service options

  • Built-in compliance policies

  • Access control, encryption, and API support

Upfront costs will depend mainly on the chosen solution and the level of integrations required. However, automated provisioning pays for itself over time through the following:

  • IT administration savings

  • Improved security and compliance

  • Faster employee onboarding

Cloud services can be used in many tools. This helps them come cheap as they are sold on a month-by-month basis.

For instance, some simple setups take only a few weeks. The deployment process may last several weeks for big projects that involve multiple applications and systems. Working with competent consultants, the key is designing an ideal provisioning framework fit to your company’s requirements. The up-front design also enables fast rollout.

The main risks include the following if not managed properly:

  • Technical issues

  • Implementation delays

  • Ongoing maintenance needs

  • Potential disruption/downtime

These risks can be mitigated through careful planning, testing, training, and change management. It is equally important to establish checks and backups to prevent policy or account breaches and violations.


In comparison to manual provisioning, automated provisioning offers higher efficiency, reliability, and greater scalability. It requires initial expenses but it pays off in the form of revamped IT operations. You will need to grow your team and also invest in more technology.

Thus, provisioning automation becomes critical to improving costs and employee productivity. Partner with knowledgeable identity management advisors. That way, you can determine the ideal provisioning approach for your organization’s future.

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