Policy-based approvals

Last modified 14 Mar 2024 12:46 +01:00
Approval process feature
This page is an introduction to Approval process midPoint feature. Please see the feature page for more details.

MidPoint is identity management and governance system, therefore it is quite natural that it implements an approval mechanism.

However, the mechanism that midPoint employs to drive the approvals is quite unique. Almost all other IDM systems used workflow engine to drive the approvals. MidPoint did the same thing in the past, but it was not a good approach. It was difficult to set up and maintain the processes. Therefore, midPoint slowly drifted away from the use of workflow engine until it was replaced by declarative policy in midPoint 4.0.

Current mechanism to drive approvals is based on policies rather than processes. There are policy rules that specify individual aspects of an approvals. For example the rules may look like:

  • Some roles are assigned automatically based on organizational structure membership. Assignment of those roles is not approved.

  • Assignment of all ad-hoc roles must be approved by the line manager of the requesting user.

  • Assignment of roles for applications X, Y and Z must be approved by business owners of those applications.

  • Assignment of sensitive roles must be approved by security office.

  • Assignment of controlling roles must comply with segregation of duties (SoD) policy. Exceptions are not possible.

  • Some business roles are subject to a different SoD policy. But in this case exceptions are possible and can be approved by the security office.

  • All approval decisions must be escalated if they are not decided within a week. Escalation pattern follows functional organizational structure.

Those are typical enterprise approval rules. They are not that complex in themselves. However, try to imagine a business process that needs to be in place to drive approvals based on such rules. It will be a complete nightmare to design such process. The process needs to adapt to set of roles that are requested. The process needs to account all the conditional states, all the checks and optional steps, all the combinations and so on. And it would be even worse to maintain that process. This is one of the aspects that made IDM solutions so expensive to deploy and even more expensive to maintain.

However, midPoint can compute such process in a dynamic way. When a set of roles are requested, midPoint will evaluate the policies, divides the roles into groups, computes the approval steps and runs the approval schemas. The algorithm is already implemented as core functionality of midPoint. You do not need to re-implement it for each and every deployment. And what is even better, it can be easily maintained. Change the policies and midPoint will automatically adapt. No need to re-draw BPMN diagrams. MidPoint does all of that under the hood.

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