Automating SaaS Client Onboarding: CRM-IAM Integration

21 May 2024

Onboarding is the last step of a Sales Cycle in any organization. Slow onboarding often leads to revenue loss resulting from changing business priorities due to evolving market conditions. The primary reason for slowness stems from the need to establish a secure data transfer conduit between the SaaS Product and its clients. IT organizations face the brunt of such missed revenue due to integration delays.

This article proposes a strategy for technology leaders and practitioners to speed up onboarding by streamlining user provisioning for Identity Access Management (IAM) Systems.

A Real World Example

ACME Corporation successfully pitches its product to a client and seals the deal. The sale gets logged in Salesforce, ACME's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Once the contracts are signed, the next step is onboarding, which involves syncing the identity databases between ACME and the client company. This synchronization enables the client's employees to access ACME's service. To make this happen, IAM experts from both companies come together to plan the data transfer process.

They discuss API endpoints, payload structure, access mechanisms, and security checks to ensure a secure and seamless transfer between trusted parties, keeping potential threats at bay.

This process can often be lengthy, spanning several months as IAM administrators from both companies coordinate their schedules. Sometimes, this onboarding period even extends into the client's new fiscal year. At the start of each fiscal year, companies typically reassess their budgets and may opt to cancel contracts with ACME due to shifting business priorities and also since they have not yet begun to use ACME’s service. Consequently, ACME faces the risk of losing the revenue they anticipated from the client.

This situation could have been prevented if the client onboarding had been completed with a faster onboarding process.

Figure 1: Revenue Loss Due to Onboarding Delays

Preventing Revenue Loss

To tackle these potential losses, it's crucial to get to the root of the issue: delays in facilitating the seamless transfer of the client's users' identities to ACME's IAM system through a secure network. In this segment, I'll outline a novel and efficient method for accomplishing this.

But before we dive in, let's take a quick look at a standard sales cycle and the key players involved, particularly within a CRM system like Salesforce.

Figure 2: A Typical Sales Cycle

Here's how we can tackle this solution in four straightforward steps:

Step 1 - Contact Staging

When a lead converts into an opportunity (as shown in Box 2 in Figure 2) and their contact details are logged in a CRM tool like Salesforce, we'll have the CRM system automatically push these contact details to a Contacts Database (CD) owned by ACME. This can typically be achieved using triggers provided by CRM systems, such as Salesforce Triggers.

Step 2 - Client User Sync to IAM System

Once the contracts are signed, we'll automatically synchronize the client users from the Contacts Database (CD) to ACME's IAM User Database (IUD) (For example, Okta, or other custom databases). Since both databases are under ACME's ownership, there's inherent trust between them.

Step 3 - Client Contact Notification

At this stage, we'll notify the client contact that they can now start using ACME's software through an email notification or any other digital notification methods available. Upon accessing ACME's software, they'll be prompted to set a new password and log in.

Step 4 - Client User Invitation

In this step, the client user can extend invitations to the client's IAM administrator to register and use ACME's software. The IAM administrator, in turn, can invite authorized client users to utilize ACME's services.

Since all these actions are carried out by trusted users over secure network connections, clients can start using ACME's services immediately after contract signing. The initiation of the onboarding process in Step 2 is automatic and instantaneous, effectively preventing revenue loss.

The IAM teams of the two companies can work on establishing a parallel user transfer network for updates to the client’s user information.

Figure 3: Automating Onboarding


Client onboarding is a challenging puzzle filled with bureaucracy and intricate procedures that impact company finances, employee satisfaction, and user experience worldwide. Simplifying this process through automation is crucial for technology leaders. Approaches like the one discussed in this document aim to accomplish this objective using available technology.