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3 Benefits of Single Sign-On (SSO) for Higher Ed

3 min read

Single sign-on, or SSO, is being adopted across the higher ed industry, especially at larger institutions. If you haven't heard about it, you will soon.

SSO is a secure method of authentication that allows your staff to log into multiple applications and software services with a single credential managed by the institution. 

 

How does SSO work?

Single sign-on relies on a single set of credentials (your username and password) stored in a system managed by your school, known as an Identity Provider or (IDP). A common IDP on campus might be Microsoft’s Active Directory, Shibboleth, or Okta.

This set of credentials is then used to access other systems on campus, such as a CRM, LMS, or engagement platform, instead of using unique usernames and passwords.

 

A Higher Ed Use Case:

A member of your admissions team starts their morning by opening your school's CRM. They are immediately redirected to a login page for your identity provider, provide their username and password, are brought back to the CRM, and can get on with their day - the experience is seamless.

That staff member is now automatically logging into all software tools utilizing SSO. The identity provider is capable of telling those other systems, “This user is already logged in - they are good to go!” There’s no need for the user to manage multiple logins or repeatedly log in to different systems with the same credentials.

 

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How Colleges and Universities Benefit from Single Sign-On

1. SSO Keeps Your Data Safe

Colleges and universities are trusted with a massive amount of highly sensitive and personal data. Security and privacy concerns are paramount to staff and faculty, students, parents, and vendors alike. SSO adds a layer of protection over data in multiple systems while offering regulatory assurances to comply with laws such as FERPA or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

Single sign-on reduces these risks by centralizing and reducing the number of usernames and passwords, which are the number one target for cybercrime. SSO reduces exposure, limits password reuse, and lets your institution's IT team control security guidelines and password strength.

Identity provider systems are typically focused on the single task of credential management, and do it well, with more robust tools for access management and reporting - all under significant scrutiny. From the perspective of an institution, there is more trust and confidence, and it’s centrally located as opposed to relying on the credential management tools of different vendors.

 

2. SSO Saves Time and Cuts IT Helpdesk Costs

When you reduce the number of login credentials your staff needs to remember, you reduce the volume of password resets and IT help requests. Gartner says that 20-50% of all IT helpdesk requests are related to login credentials and password resets. 

Whether your IT team is outsourced or in-house, there's a cost to pay. If the help desk doesn't have a single, simple system for managing credentials, it’s not just their time that's wasted. Staff members can't log in to complete their critical work.

 

3. Improve Speed and Efficiency Where it Matters Most

Staff at colleges and universities are more time and resource constrained than ever. Efficiency is essential for teams struggling to stay on top of their workload. The process of logging into campus systems needs to be quick and secure.

The single set of credentials provided with SSO works across campus systems and gets your team to work fast on high-priority enrollment, retention, and student success tasks.

 

SSO for Higher Ed Engagement Platforms

Single sign-on is one of many features to look for in a higher ed engagement platform. While it may not be at the top of your list, SSO provides a significant improvement in your security posture and a streamlined experience for your staff. The feature easily pays for itself in improved security and reduced downtime.

Make sure your vendor supports your IDP with an industry-standard approach, such as SAML2, and has a dedicated support team to assist with setup and troubleshooting.

 


 

Enable Single Sign-On (SSO) for Cadence

SSO for Cadence adds an extra layer of data security while streamlining the login experience for your team. Reach out to your Client Success Lead to see if your system is compatible.

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