Separation of Duties Policy Explained with Suitable Examples


As an IT manager, ensuring the security of sensitive information and maintaining the integrity of business processes is paramount. One effective way to achieve these objectives is by implementing a robust system of Separation of Duties (SoD). 

This approach aims to distribute critical tasks and responsibilities across different individuals within an organization, thereby reducing the risk of fraud, errors, and unauthorized access. 

Separation of Duties is required to establish a system of checks and balances within an organization. By dividing tasks and assigning them to different individuals, organizations can create a system of mutual accountability, preventing anyone from having complete control over critical processes. 

The principle helps mitigate the risk of fraud, collusion, and errors that usually take place due to individual negligence or malicious intent. This enhances security, ensure that your organization meets industry standards, and is better prepared for audits.

To understand better, let’s consider this situation: only one employee has complete access to sensitive customer data, payment processing, and system administration. If that employee misuses their authority or falls victim to a security breach, the consequences could be disastrous. 

However, by implementing SoD policies, these responsibilities can be distributed among different individuals. For instance, one employee might handle customer data, another manages payment processing, and a separate employee can take care of system administration. 

This segregation ensures that no single person has unrestricted access to all critical systems and data, reducing the risk of unauthorized activities or data breaches.

Here are examples of a few organizational roles that require SoD.

  • Record-Keeping Roles: Individuals in this role are responsible for creating and maintaining financial records that document all the transactions within the organization. It is important to ensure that these individuals are different from those who issue or approve these transactions. This separation ensures a checks-and-balances system and reduces the risk of fraud or errors.

  • Authorization Roles: Individuals in authorization roles are responsible for evaluating and approving transactions. It is important that these individuals are segregated from the record-keeping process and from reconciling or reviewing the transactions. This segregation of duties helps prevent conflicts of interest and enhances the accuracy and integrity of financial data.

  • Asset Manager Role: The individual in this role manages or has access to physical assets like inventory or cash. They in no way should be responsible for recording inventory, reconciling bank accounts, or approving transactions. separating these responsibilities reduces the risk of mishandling assets and maintains proper control.

  • Reconciliation Roles: This role is responsible for verifying the accuracy and completeness of transactions. It should be segregated from roles involved in requesting or approving transactions. This separation guarantees an independent review process, reducing the chances of errors or fraudulent activities going unnoticed.

In this article, we will explore the various examples of Separation of Duties (SoD) policy that will ensure a secure and transparent environment.

5 Essential Examples of Separation of Duties

Here are some examples of separation of duties policy.

Example 1: User access management

Let's say your organization uses multiple SaaS applications to streamline business processes, such as customer relationship management (CRM), project management, and financial accounting. The IT department follows a well-defined SoD policy to maintain a secure environment.

In this scenario, your IT team responsible for user access management consists of two distinct roles: the access provisioning team and the access review team. The access provisioning team is responsible for granting access to new users and providing them with the necessary permissions to use the required SaaS applications effectively.

When a new employee joins your organization, the access provisioning team ensures they have access to the relevant SaaS apps based on their job responsibilities. For example, if the employee is a sales representative, they would be granted access to the CRM application to manage customer data and track sales activities.

On the other hand, the access review team plays a critical role in periodically reviewing and auditing user access rights to prevent any potential security risks. Their task is to ensure that user access privileges remain appropriate and aligned with the employee's job requirements. They conduct regular access reviews and revoke unnecessary access for employees who have changed roles or left the company.

For instance, if an employee transitions from a sales role to a project management role, the access review team ensures that their access to the CRM application is revoked, as it is no longer required for their new responsibilities. This helps mitigate the risk of unauthorized access and reduces the chances of data breaches or misuse.

By implementing a strong SoD policy in user access management, your organization can significantly enhance security and compliance measures. It ensures that no single individual or team has excessive control over user access, reducing the potential for fraudulent activities or unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Example 2: Data backup and recovery

Consider an IT department in a large organization that handles critical data backup and recovery processes. The responsibility for data backup and recovery is typically centralized and managed by a single employee, say IT admin. 

IT admin has complete control over the entire process, including initiating backups, monitoring the backup systems, and performing data recovery when necessary.

However, relying on a single individual for these crucial tasks poses significant risks. What if that IT admin accidentally deletes an important file or becomes unavailable during a critical system failure? ? This could result in severe data loss, prolonged system downtime, and potential financial and reputational damage.

To mitigate these risks, the IT manager implements the Separation of Duties (SoD) principle within the data backup and recovery process. SoD involves dividing the tasks associated with data backup and recovery into different roles, ensuring that no single individual has complete control over the entire process.

In this new setup, the IT manager assigns the following responsibilities to different individuals:

  • Backup Administration: One employee is designated as the backup administrator. Their primary responsibility is to initiate and oversee the backup process. They ensure that critical data is regularly backed up, backup systems function correctly, and backup schedules are maintained.

  • Monitoring and Verification: Another employee takes on the role of monitoring and verification. Their task is to monitor the backup systems, verify the integrity and completeness of the backup data, and perform regular test restores to ensure the recoverability of the backups. They also watch for any potential errors or issues that may arise during the backup process.

  • Data Recovery: A third employee is responsible for data recovery. Their role comes into play when a data loss event occurs or when data is needed to be restored from backups. They have the expertise to perform data recoveries efficiently, minimizing downtime and ensuring that critical systems and data are restored promptly.

    By implementing SoD in the data backup and recovery process, the organization reduces the risk of accidental data loss, improves system availability, and enhances overall data protection. It also establishes a system of checks and balances, ensuring that no single individual can compromise the integrity or reliability of the backup and recovery operations.

Example 3: Vendor management

You, as an IT manager, are responsible for overseeing vendor management in your organization. Vendor management involves engaging with various external suppliers to procure IT assets or services for your organization.

However, relying on a single individual to handle all vendor-related activities can pose risks such as fraud, errors, or mismanagement of vendor relationships. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to implement Segregation of Duties (SoD) within your vendor management process.

SoD in vendor management entails dividing different tasks and responsibilities among multiple individuals to establish checks and balances. Let's consider an example to illustrate this concept:

Suppose your organization engages with vendors to procure IT equipment and services. Initially, the procurement manager handles all aspects of vendor management, including selecting vendors, negotiating contracts, approving payments, and evaluating vendor performance. While this arrangement may seem convenient, it presents certain vulnerabilities.

To address these risks, your organization decides to implement SoD within the vendor management process. The tasks associated with vendor management are divided into distinct roles:

  • Vendor Selection: One employee is assigned the responsibility of researching and identifying potential vendors based on your organization's requirements and budget constraints. This individual collects information, obtains quotes, and evaluates vendors to make informed recommendations.

  • Contract Negotiation: Another employee takes on the task of negotiating contracts with the selected vendors. This person ensures that the terms and conditions align with your organization's needs, protects its interests, and complies with relevant legal and regulatory requirements.

  • Payment Approval: A different employee is designated to handle the financial aspect of vendor management. This individual reviews invoices, verifies the accuracy of charges, and approves payments to vendors based on the contractual agreements and budgetary constraints.

  • Vendor Performance Evaluation: Yet another employee is responsible for assessing the performance of vendors. This involves monitoring the quality of goods or services, tracking delivery timelines, and addressing any issues or concerns that may arise during the engagement.

    In this way each employee involved has a distinct role, reducing the risk of fraud, errors, or bias. It ensures that no single individual has control over the entire vendor management process, enhancing transparency, accountability, and efficiency.

Example 4: Risk management

Consider an organization that utilizes a cloud-based project management SaaS application to streamline its operations. To effectively manage the risks associated with this application, the IT team can implement SoD measures to enhance security and prevent potential issues.

User Access Management: The IT team can segregate duties related to user access management in the SaaS app. 

For example, one team member could be responsible for creating user accounts, while another team member oversees access permissions and role assignments. This segregation ensures that the creation of accounts and granting of privileges are separate activities, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or inappropriate user privileges.

Configuration and Monitoring: Segregating duties related to the configuration and monitoring of the SaaS app helps prevent both intentional and unintentional errors. 

For instance, one team member could be responsible for configuring the app's settings and defining security controls, while another team member is tasked with monitoring and reviewing system logs for any anomalies. This segregation helps maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the organization's data by reducing the potential for unauthorized changes or unnoticed security breaches.

Data Backup and Recovery: To safeguard critical data stored in the SaaS app, the IT team can implement SoD for data backup and recovery processes. One team member could be assigned to schedule and perform regular backups, while another team member is responsible for validating and testing the backup restoration process. 

This separation of duties ensures that backups are conducted diligently and independently, minimizing the risk of data loss or corruption.

Example 5: IT asset management

To illustrate SoD in IT asset management, let's consider a hypothetical scenario where a company uses multiple SaaS applications to support its business operations. 

The IT team responsible for managing these assets typically performs various tasks, including user access provisioning, application configuration, data backups, and system maintenance. SoD would require dividing these responsibilities among different team members to minimize the risk of fraud, errors, or unauthorized actions.

For example, one team member could be assigned the role of user access administrator, responsible for granting and revoking access to the SaaS applications. Another team member might handle application configuration, ensuring that the settings and features of the software align with the organization's requirements. 

Additionally, a separate team member could be in charge of regular data backups to prevent data loss or corruption. By dividing these responsibilities, each individual becomes a check and balance for the others, reducing the likelihood of any single person abusing their privileges or making mistakes that could compromise the organization's assets.

To effectively implement SoD, you should establish clear policies and procedures outlining the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in IT asset management. It's crucial to ensure proper documentation and communication to avoid confusion or overlaps in duties. 

Further, regular monitoring and auditing of activities can also help identify any potential weaknesses or deviations from established procedures, allowing organizations to take prompt corrective actions.

While separation of duties brings significant benefits, it also presents certain challenges for organizations. One significant challenge is striking the right balance between access and control. Ensuring that employees have access to the resources they need to perform their roles effectively while maintaining the necessary checks and balances can be complex.

To tackle these challenges, it's crucial to manage access and have visibility into user interactions with SaaS applications. However, using outdated software and isolated IAM tools falls short in providing the necessary visibility across your SaaS landscape. This is where Zluri steps in.

How Zluri’s IGA Solution Helps in Implementing SoD Policy

At Zluri, we understand these difficulties and offer you a robust identity governance and administration (IGA) platform specifically designed for the SaaS and AI era.  This allows you to govern access to your entire SaaS landscape throughout the user lifecycle.

With Zluri's IGA platform, you can easily maintain control and enhance security through features such as user provisioning, automated access reviews, and self-service access requests. 

The platform empowers you to ensure that every user's access is properly managed and aligned with your organization's policies. This not only strengthens security but also helps you comply with the required regulations.

Now, let's explore how Zluri stands out from other IGA tools by offering unique capabilities.

Powerful Discovery Engine

Zluri makes it easy for your IT team to analyze and uncover valuable data about your SaaS applications and users. We offer five discovery methods to identify this information: SSO, finance and expense management, API integrations, optional desktop agents, and optional browser extensions.

zluri discovery method

But Zluri doesn't stop at discovery. The platform goes above and beyond by integrating with over 800 SaaS applications. This means you get real-time data, valuable insights, and AI-powered alerts to stay informed.

With API-based integrations, Zluri ensures in-depth discovery of data across all your SaaS applications, leaving no information hidden. You can trust that Zluri provides 100% visibility into your SaaS environment.

What's more, Zluri has the largest library with over 225,000 apps. It excels in providing detailed access data, diving into the specifics. This gives you a comprehensive understanding of user permissions and access levels within your SaaS ecosystem. 

Robust Automation Engine

Zluri's automation engine is like a self-driving system for your organization. It takes care of access workflows effortlessly, ensures smooth and efficient automation with thorough reviews, and follows a clear set of rules and policies. 

Now, let’s explore Zluri’s IGA capabilities.

  • Lifecycle Management

Zluri's user lifecycle management solution streamlines the management of user access while maintaining strong security measures. Zluri's ULM platform makes it easy to bring new employees onboard by simplifying their access to necessary applications and resources.

With automated processes and integration with HR systems, Zluri empowers your IT teams to efficiently set up user accounts across multiple applications from one central location. This eliminates mistakes, reduces administrative workload, and ensures new employees have the right access from day one.

Also, Zluri's ULM capabilities extend to when employees leave the organization. Through automated deprovisioning workflows, Zluri helps your IT teams revoke user access across all applications, minimizing the risk of abandoned accounts and potential security breaches. 

In addition, Zluri offers key unique features that differentiate it from others, ensuring effective access management:

Customizable workflows: With Zluri, you can set up pre-defined workflows tailored to your organization's specific requirements, eliminating the need for manual granting and revoking access permissions. The intuitive interface allows you to customize workflows based on user roles, departments, and seniority levels.

New onboarding WF-1


new offboarding WF


Powerful app recommendations & in-app suggestions: Zluri also provides contextual-based app recommendations based on user profiles, department, seniority level, etc., making it convenient for your team to choose the appropriate apps for provisioning.

onboarding ritish

Moreover, it offers in-app suggestions to enhance user productivity by recommending required actions for efficient task performance.

Onboarding user 944

Reusable Playbooks: By saving these workflows as predefined “playbooks”, Zluri eliminates the need to recreate workflows for each user, further streamlining the process and increasing operational efficiency.

adobe photoshop playbook

But what happens when a user’s role changes during the mid-lifecycle transitions?

  • Access request management

Zluri simplifies the process of managing user access during role transitions with its self-serve model, the Employee App Store (EAS). This powerful feature empowers your IT team to maintain control over employees' access to essential tools and applications.

employee app store

Using the EAS, your team or designated approver can review and approve access requests based on the employees' job roles and responsibilities. This ensures that permissions granted align with their specific needs, allowing you to govern access and protect sensitive information within your organization.

All organization apps

Zluri's approval system is transparent and consists of three levels: app owners, reporting managers, and IT admins. Higher-level authorities have the decision-making authority, enabling them to override decisions made by lower-level admins or managers.

In the event of an access request being rejected, decision-makers can provide comments explaining the reasons behind the rejection, ensuring transparency and clarity in the access request process. Approvers also have the ability to modify specific requests as needed. 

To keep users well-informed, Zluri provides a "changelog" feature where users can track updates related to their access requests. This includes information such as the approval or rejection of requests, changes in license duration or tier, and comments added by any admin. This helps users stay updated and aware of any changes or decisions made regarding their access to applications.

request adobe cc pro
  • Access certification

Zluri's IGA solution simplifies user access review and permission management. It provides a centralized platform for security, GRC, and auditors to review and report on user access. With Zluri, you can easily set review parameters, choose reviewers, and schedule campaigns.

review access and stay compliant

Through intelligent automation, Zluri assesses user access rights based on predefined rules, saving time and reducing errors compared to manual spreadsheet reviews.

Zluri goes beyond reviews by offering auto-remediation capabilities. It takes immediate corrective actions if access violations are detected, enhancing your organization's security and ensuring compliance. By revoking access for terminated employees or those with outdated privileges, Zluri helps mitigate the risk of unauthorized data breaches and keeps sensitive information secure.

Zluri generates comprehensive reports that provide valuable insights into access patterns, vulnerabilities, and compliance status. These reports make it easy to demonstrate compliance to auditors and make informed decisions about access management.

simplify compliance with Intelligent

Zluri's unique approach to access reviews sets it apart from other IGA tools. Let’s see how.

Continuous Access Reviews: It enables you to maintain control over access privileges through recurring and scheduled certifications. Recurring certifications ensure consistent review and validation of access permissions, quickly identifying and addressing security weaknesses. 

Moreover, scheduled certifications allow planned and timely evaluations, reducing the chances of missing critical access issues.

scheduled access certifications

Zluri provides industry-standard certificate templates to simplify the certification process. These templates offer a standardized approach, making certifications efficient, comprehensive, accurate, and aligned with recognized guidelines.

Real-time Access Reviews: Zluri leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance data security and streamline compliance processes. By conducting real-time access reviews and analyzing access patterns, user behavior, and system logs, Zluri identifies unusual or potentially risky activities, allowing proactive mitigation of security threats and protection of sensitive data.

Zluri's access reviews support continuous monitoring, providing real-time visibility into access privileges. This enables you to promptly address access-related issues, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or misuse.

stay auto compliant with AI

Furthermore, Zluri's AI compliance capabilities offer intelligent insights and recommendations. It aligns access controls with industry regulations and standards, reducing the risk of compliance violations. By simplifying the compliance process with AI technology, Zluri helps your organization meet regulatory requirements easily.

Book a Demo today!


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Mastering SaaS Vendor Management: A Comprehensive Guide-2023

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SaaS Sprawl - The Ultimate Guide

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