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How to Select the Best Password Manager for Your Wants and Needs

  |  Dashlane

Here are the two most important criteria for evaluating your password manager options. 

With so many password managers available in the marketplace, it may be difficult to tell them apart. Not all password managers are the same, however—and what really separates them isn’t merely the features they offer. 

As you evaluate a password manager for your business, it’s important to look beyond a quick list of features and instead understand how well they help you achieve your goal of company-wide security. It’s also important to consider the tool’s simplicity, because there's no point in having features no one will use. 

When weighing your options and deciding which password manager is best for your business, we recommend two main criteria to keep in mind: ease of adoption and real-world security. 

  1. Ease of adoption 

A password manager is only an effective tool for keeping your company secure if your employees use it. The best password managers balance a simple, intuitive user experience with advanced integrations and powerful security features. 

When evaluating how different password managers rank by ease of adoption, consider the following key factors.

Admin capabilities and integrations

Step one of a successful password manager rollout is ensuring that it’s easy to distribute to your employees. You should be able to:

  • Integrate your password manager with your single sign-on (SSO) provider
  • Sync with your directory for automated invitations, offboarding, and group management
  • Deploy the product easily to your entire team so it’s on their computers by default and you’re not reliant on everyone downloading the app themselves

Support when you (or your team) need it

Not everyone on your team has the same level of tech knowledge. You’ll want to choose a password manager that, in addition to being intuitive out of the gate, has resources when someone has additional questions. Look for resources like:

  • Live and on-demand trainings
  • Educational materials (both technical and non-technical documentation)
  • Robust support (at minimum, 24/5 email service, with bonus points for live support) 

An interface employees will want to use

This is the most important factor when it comes to ease of adoption. Choosing a purpose-built solution that employees will use is key. Look for a password manager with:

Smooth product UI and in-product onboarding: It shouldn’t be your job to drive usage. We recommend looking at password managers that are loved by individuals and business users—these solutions are the most likely to have an easy-to-use employee experience.

Separation of business and personal passwords: This assures employees that their personal data stays private (while assuring admins that business data stays within the business).

Account recovery: Let’s be real: employees will forget their master passwords sometimes. We consider it a deal-breaker if a business password manager doesn’t give admins a way to restore access for an employee, leaving them locked out of their account.

Sharing and group sharing: Sharing serves two crucial functions for every business. Firstly, it prevents an unsecure and inefficient back-and-forth trail of passwords shared over email, chat, and text messages. Secondly, group sharing means new employees can start their first day of work with all the passwords they need to get started based on the employee group they are a part of.

Easy import: Your company may not be using a password solution, but all your employees already are—whether that means saving them in their browsers, spreadsheets, or on sticky notes. To make changing everyone’s password habits easier, a smooth import experience from common digital methods is important.

A graceful employee offboarding experience: If employees know they can retain their personal passwords when they leave a company, voluntarily or otherwise, they’re more likely to adopt a password manager. 

"There's a lot of turnover, which means significant onboarding and offboarding. We also need to be prepared for short-term changes, including maternity leave and vacation."

Joe McLain,
CIO at Buena Vista University
  1. Real-world security 

Your typical security product or password manager vendor usually talks about its unbreakable security architecture (supported with extensive iconography of locks, shields, and keys). While the architecture of the password manager you choose is an important consideration, security does not exist in a technical vacuum; it also depends on how the product is used, how easy it is to identify and address security issues, and what control the product gives you to apply specific password policies to your teams. 

We recommend the following factors when you evaluate different password managers on their real-world security.

An impeccable security track record

The best password managers should:

Simple ways for employees to improve their password health 

You’re not getting a password manager for your employees to store their already existing, weak passwords in a secure vault. Your password manager of choice should also do the heavy lifting of improving your company’s password hygiene over time. Look for password managers that:

  • Go above and beyond the standard password generator to help employees strengthen passwords—with features such as a password health dashboard
  • Monitor and notify you of breached accounts
  • Can be used as an authenticator app so you can use 2-factor authentication (2FA) across accounts

“A lot of employees are unaware that passwords have been compromised or that their password health is poor. This [password health] tool has been so helpful in having focused conversations one on one, as opposed to just handing out generic messaging.”

— Mindy Beamsderfer,
Chief Information Officer, CSG

Admin-level insights and policy controls

The best password managers help you build a security-first culture. It’s also important that admins have insights into what’s happening within their organization and can set some guardrails with company-wide policies.

Look for admin features such as:

  • The ability to enforce 2FA when employees log into their password manager
  • Activity logs for historical tracking and compliance
  • Dashboards with actionable insights into company and employee password health

A password manager is an essential tool for protecting your business accounts, but it’s only successful if you have strong adoption rates across your organization. The best password manager should help you achieve your security goals while offering both employees and admins simple and effective tools to get their job done.

Want to learn how different password managers stack up against each other? Download our Business Buyer’s Guide for a side-by-side comparison.

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