Just-in-Time (JIT) provisioning and Security Assertion Markup Language Single Sign-On (SAML SSO) are automation methods for user access to systems and web applications. Both JIT and SAML SSO offer efficient integration with existing organization directories and an added layer of security but have somewhat different purposes within authentication. Organizations can use one alone or in tandem with the other for a secure, seamless experience.

What is just-in-time provisioning?

Just-in-time provisioning uses the SAML protocol to authenticate users and allow them to create accounts in new web-based applications when they initially log in; it communicates with both the identity and service provider to verify digital identities with secure tokens instead of credentials, and also works in conjunction with SSO to streamline access for users moving forward.


With JIT provisioning, onboarding is much more efficient than with SAML. By automating the accounts creation process, you effectively remove the manual burden from your IT operations teams. Instead of answering tickets about implementing routine processes—like account creation or forgotten passwords—JIT provisioning frees up their time for other, more demanding projects. It also reduces unnecessary (and unmonitored) account creation, as users are unlikely to create additional accounts with a streamlined, automated login experience.


As JIT provisioning operates on the SAML protocol, it is also XML-based, meaning it is subject to the same complexity and possible SSO disruption. It also means that you are only able to assign users in project management systems after their initial login, and doesn’t often offer automated offboarding and account revocation. Of course, with the right IAM solution, it’s possible.

What is SAML SSO?

SAML is an authentication protocol used to confirm digital identities for accessing SaaS applications. Rather than share credentials, SAML enables the communication between identity providers and service providers using secure tokens (encrypted, digitally signed XML-certificates). This allows users to access multiple applications with trusted information and—by implementing single sign-on—to only log in once.


SAML SSO makes authentication a centralized and fully visible process, with simple directory integration making for easier workflows. It has long been a standard for user login as it removes user error (i.e., weak or forgotten passwords), improves user experience by not requiring credentials for multiple applications, and does so securely. And, as an XML-based protocol, SAML SSO is very versatile, usable on virtually all platforms.


Of course, as an XML-based protocol, the SAML SSO specification is somewhat complex to implement. This could lead to error, with lengthened timelines and security vulnerability. Also, if SSO is down, that removes access to all connected sites immediately—making proper system implementation key.

SailPoint automated provisioning

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