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Permissions Systems Explained

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4 min read

Every company holds sensitive data and resources regarding multiple users, requiring the utmost security and control. This would mean knowing when to grant permissions to some while revoking permissions for other users, all of which are primarily context-dependent and, even so, extremely challenging.

Reports show that over half of organisations have experienced data breaches caused by too much access granted, leading to the misuse of sensitive or confidential information. This is why gaining a grasp on how permission management works and what needs to be done is crucial to everything going smoothly and following GDPR compliance.

Here is everything you need to know to manage permissions at your company successfully.

What is Meant by a Permissions System?

A permissions system is your digital access control, serving as a comprehensive framework that meticulously regulates user access to specific digital resources within an organisation. At its core, this system operates on the foundation of user roles and privileges. User roles define the responsibilities and functions of individuals within an organisation, and privileges dictate the specific actions or information to which a role has access. This level of control guarantees that everything’s done as required, whether it’s about permissions assigned, permissions granted, or revoking permissions altogether.

Let’s say, for instance, that an employee in the marketing department may have access to customer data relevant to their tasks, while someone in finance may have access to financial records. This detailed control enhances security by minimising unnecessary exposure and contributes to operational efficiency by enabling a focused and streamlined access structure.

Why is Access Control so Important Within a Business?

Access control is fundamental to a business’s digital security since it serves as a regulatory mechanism, choosing who has authorised access to specific information, applications, or areas in the digital infrastructure. This strict regulation is vital for protecting sensitive data, allowing only those with authorisation and legitimate reasons to access and manipulate such critical information.

This permissions system is also a solid helping hand in maintaining compliance with industry regulations and legal standards. Industries dealing with sensitive information are bound by stringent data security and privacy requirements, and robust access control measures not only help businesses meet these standards but also mitigate the risk of legal consequences and financial penalties associated with unauthorised data exposure.

Overall, by tailoring access permissions to align with specific job roles, organisations optimise workflows, reduce the risk of human error, and enhance overall productivity. With this level of precision, employees can access the resources necessary for their tasks without being overwhelmed by unnecessary information, striking a balance between security and streamlined business operations.

Who is Responsible for Managing Roles and Responsibilities Within a Team

Permission systems often rest on the team leaders or managers, as they hold the fundamental responsibility of defining access roles based on the specific needs of the team and the organisation. It could mean assigning and overseeing permissions within the digital infrastructure so that team members have the appropriate access to information and tools required for their roles.

In collaboration with IT or system administrators, the team leader establishes and refines the permissions structure. This includes determining who can access sensitive data, critical applications, or specialised tools. As team dynamics evolve, the leader may adapt these permissions to align with changing project requirements or individual team members’ roles.

Nonetheless, effective access management isn’t a one-way street. It requires active engagement from all team members. Open communication channels empower team members to express their specific needs for access or flag potential concerns. This collaborative approach ensures that the permissions system aligns with the team’s workflow and promotes a culture of responsibility and accountability for digital access within the team.

The Key Role of HR

HR is the glue that holds it all together. They define access parameters, ensure compliance, and serve to generate an efficient and secure environment for the company. With all that set in motion, there are some key responsibilities that HR excels at when handling the ins and outs of permissions systems.

1. Role Definition and Onboarding

During onboarding, HR collaborates with department heads and team leaders to establish the permissions for each role within the digital landscape. This includes determining access levels to sensitive data, applications, and other relevant resources.

2. Policy Development and Compliance

HR is responsible for developing and disseminating access control policies throughout the organisation. These policies outline the standards and procedures for managing digital permissions, ensuring employees understand their data access and security responsibilities.

3. Training and Awareness

Your HR team will likely organise training sessions and awareness programmes, educating employees about the importance of permissions, data security best practices, and the consequences of unauthorised access. This proactive approach contributes to a security-conscious culture within the organisation.

4. Access Reviews and Changes

As master collaborators, HR will talk with department heads and IT teams to conduct regular access reviews. This involves assessing whether employees’ permissions align with their current roles and responsibilities. HR facilitates the necessary adjustments, such as updating permissions for employees who change roles or revoking access for those who no longer require it.

5. Employee Offboarding

HR ensures a secure offboarding process when employees leave the organisation by promptly revoking access to all relevant digital resources to prevent unauthorised use. HR’s involvement in this critical step minimises the risk of data breaches from former employees retaining unnecessary access.

How to Improve Access Control and Permissions Management

Fiddling with company permissions and access guidelines to find the right balance across all team members is tricky. It will require some trial and error to find the winning formula. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean you must do it for blind people. Here are a few things you can start with that will put you on the right track:

  • Regular Access Audits: Conduct routine user access audits to identify and rectify any discrepancies or unnecessary permissions.
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): This approach ensures that users receive only the access necessary for their specific functions, simplifying the permissions landscape and minimising potential security vulnerabilities.
  • Automation of Permissions Processes: Automation reduces the risk of human error, expedites access approvals, and ensures consistency in managing permissions across various systems.
  • Incident Response Planning: A well-defined incident response plan ensures a swift and effective response to security incidents, unauthorised access, or breaches, minimising potential damage.
  • Encryption of Sensitive Data: Even with appropriate access permissions, encrypting sensitive information adds an extra layer of protection, safeguarding data from unauthorised access.

Permissions Management with Factorial

Factorial puts control and security back into the hands of organisations. Trusted by over 8,000 companies in 65 countries, our Permission Management Software simplifies user roles and permissions for maximum efficiency. 

Users can customise roles and gain granular control over employee access. No need for complicated setups—adapt predefined roles to your needs, create personalised permission groups, or assign employees as you see fit and add extra permissions for flexibility. Need to adapt to changes instantly? Turn on or off permissions in just a few clicks.

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Sergio is a seasoned copy and content writer who has worked directly with company founders, CMOs, brand executives, and marketing directors from multiple industries. He's an HR geek and humble terpsichorean.

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