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New Year’s Resolutions for Enterprise App Technical Debt: Essential Tips for Tidying Up in 2024

Managing enterprise applications in Entra ID is critical for controlling access to your organization’s sensitive data. Over time, as employees and applications come and go, your Entra tenant can accumulate substantial technical debt in the form of outdated or redundant enterprise app registrations. Left unaddressed, this clutter can create security risks and compliance issues.

This spring, roll up your sleeves and do some tidying in Entra to clear out technical debt. Here are essential tips for auditing and streamlining your portfolio of enterprise apps.


New Year’s Resolutions for Enterprise App Technical Debt: Essential Tips for Tidying Up in 2024 Photo Related to IT Work & Cloud Security for Businesses

Review Usage and Sign-In Logs

The best way to identify obsolete enterprise apps is to analyze usage over time. You should regularly review sign-in logs to see which applications are still being actively utilized across your organization.

Run detailed sign-in reports in the Entra admin portal to view adoption trends across both apps and users. Export this sign-in data to Excel or Power BI for additional insights like usage over time, dormant apps with no recent logins, and power users signing into multiple apps. Schedule these reports to run automatically on a recurring basis, such as weekly or monthly.

With the sign-in data exported, you can focus your cleanup efforts on enterprise apps without any recent sign-in activity over the past 90 days. These dormant apps with zero adoption are prime candidates for removal. Avoid keeping apps just because they are old – if the usage isn’t there, it’s time to declare them obsolete.

In addition to the main Entra admin portal, you can pull sign-in data programmatically using Azure PowerShell modules like Get-AzureADAuditSignInLogs and Get-MgAuditLogSignIn. This allows you to manipulate and analyze app usage trends right in PowerShell. Use scripts to look for odd usage spikes, credential misuse, or other anomalies.

While reviewing sign-in logs manually is a good start, the most effective approach is to fully automate usage report generation and analysis. With the right PowerShell scripts and monitoring tools, you can stay on top of usage patterns automatically rather than relying on periodic manual reviews.

Audit App Owners and Assigned Users

In addition to monitoring sign-in activity, you should pay close attention to the designated owner and assigned users for each enterprise app registration. Applications tied to former employees or with no assigned users may be candidates for removal. Export a complete list of enterprise apps from the Entra PowerShell module. Then meticulously cross reference each app registration with its designated owner and list of assigned users. Flag any apps owned by ex-employees or contractors as high priority for deletion – there’s no need to keep apps owned by those no longer in your organization.

You can also prune individual user assignments from unused apps to clean things up. If an app has a long list of assigned users but none of them have signed in recently, then remove all of those assignments until active usage resumes. Avoid having dormant apps with stale user lists.

While you’re auditing the app owners and assignments, take notes on any gaps or issues uncovered. If a departed employee still owns critical business apps, that’s a risk that needs remediation. Document any questionable findings and schedule a follow-up governance meeting to review.

Set calendar reminders to review enterprise app ownership and assignments on a regular basis, such as quarterly. While occasional spot checks are useful, you need consistent discipline to stay on top of app hygiene long-term.

New Year’s Resolutions for Enterprise App Technical Debt: Essential Tips for Tidying Up in 2024 Photo Related to IT Work & Cloud Security for Businesses

Evaluate User Consent Settings

Even after meticulously deleting unused enterprise apps, end users could re-enable them if consent is enabled in your Entra tenant. You need to carefully review your consent policies to prevent re-creation of already removed apps.

Start by auditing the full user consent settings currently configured under Enterprise Apps in the Entra admin portal. Determine if users currently have the ability to consent to apps through self-service. Then assess if this level of consent aligns with your broader governance standards for app registration.

For organizations with strict controls, you may want to disable user consent entirely. This will force all new enterprise app registrations to go through a formal IT approval process rather than allowing ad-hoc user consent. Be aware that disabling consent can impact end-user productivity by removing self-service.

As a middle ground, you can customize the user consent experience using allow and deny lists. Configure Entra to only allow consent for pre-approved apps from specific publishers while denying all others. This still enables user self-service but only for IT-vetted apps.

No matter what consent controls you implement, it’s critical to educate end users on the process. If you fully disable consent, train employees to submit app registration requests through the proper channels. If you allow limited consent, inform users about what apps they can and cannot self-enable. Clear communication sets proper expectations.

Document the consent policies and controls you establish for future reference. Detail the review and approval workflows for registering new enterprise apps. This governance documentation helps onboard new IT staff and provides standards for controlling technical debt.

Enforce Group Assignment

For better visibility and control, require that all enterprise apps are assigned to structured groups rather than individual users. Avoid broad “all users” assignments whenever possible. Create specific groups that align to business functions, departments, or other logical app usage patterns. For example, assign timecard apps only to groups for certain job roles. Or group collaboration apps by team or project. Once you define appropriate groups, assign each enterprise app registration to the groups that align to its use case. Only permit access through group membership rather than individual assignment.

Regularly, review the group assignments for each app registration. Remove any unnecessary groups with dormant or departed members. Trim group access over time to match real usage. Avoid generic “all users” or “everyone” groups used as a catch-all. These broad assignments make it impossible to understand who really needs access. Only use all-user groups temporarily while targeting more specific populations. Document the group assignment process as a formal governance policy. Make group alignment mandatory for all new enterprise app registrations. Consistent enforcement keeps things tidy over time.

Seek Outside Help for Heavy Lifting

If your Entra tenant contains hundreds of enterprise apps with years of accumulated technical debt, the cleanup process can seem daunting. In extreme cases of clutter, it’s smart to seek outside help from a vendor like Breach Factor.

An experienced partner can thoroughly assess your enterprise app portfolio and build a streamlined remediation plan. Leverage their expertise in Entra management and identity governance to accelerate cleanup. The right vendor provides structure, accountability, and resources to transform technical debt into clean app hygiene rapidly.

In addition to tackling the backlog, an outside firm can implement ongoing systems for better visibility and control. With the latest tools and automation, they turn app management from a periodic chore into a continuous process. The most effective partnerships also transfer knowledge to equip your internal teams over time.

With a prudent investment in a vendor engagement, you gain the skills, bandwidth, and momentum to proactively govern enterprise apps. A short-term project yields long-term dividends through better-trained staff and institutionalized best practices. Investing in outside help demonstrates commitment to true transformation rather than just temporary tidying.

By regularly reviewing usage metrics, assigned users, owner details, and consent policies, you can proactively tidy up enterprise app technical debt before it spirals out of control. Dedicate the time and resources to do this important work, whether in-house or with an experienced partner. With consistent attention, you can spark lasting joy in your Entra enterprise app portfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions about Enterprise App Technical Debt in Entra

Why is it important to clean up enterprise app technical debt?

Outdated or redundant apps accumulate over time as employees and needs change. This clutter increases security risks, impacts compliance, and slows end users. Proactively removing unused apps improves hygiene and visibility into your Entra environment.

How often should I review enterprise app usage and assignments?

Experts recommend reviewing app usage via sign-in logs and assigned users/groups at least quarterly. Monthly is better for closer management. Schedule recurring calendar invites to stay disciplined.

What’s the easiest way to identify unused enterprise apps?

The best indicator of an obsolete app is a lack of recent sign-in activity. Export logs to highlight apps with no logins over the past 90 days to find low-hanging fruit for removal.

When should I consider disabling user consent for apps?

Disabling consent is best for organizations with strict app registration approval policies. But it can impact end user productivity. Allow limited consent only for pre-approved apps as a middle ground.

Why assign apps to groups instead of individual users?

Group assignment improves visibility into who really needs access to each app. It also allows easier maintenance as users come and go rather than managing individual assignments.

When is it smart to engage a vendor for app cleanup help?

If your Entra tenant has hundreds of enterprise apps with years of technical debt, consider outside help. A vendor provides structure, expertise, and bandwidth to tackle backlogs and build better governance.

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