What's the Deal with Single Sign-On?

Shauna Carson

What does a typical day look like for you? Maybe you wake up, pour yourself a coffee and log in to Twitter to see what's new. Then, after getting dressed, you enter your credentials into your remote access VPN to check your work email and see what's waiting for you in the office. There's a reminder from your boss that you have training to complete today, so you get into the car, and log in to Spotify to set the soundtrack for your commute. Once in the office you log in to do some quick online banking before your work day begins, then pull up your LMS and enter your information so you can work on your next training module. You've only been awake for a couple of hours and already you've had to remember unique log ins multiple times. No wonder people talk about password fatigue!

With this in mind, it's perhaps no surprise that single sign-on (or SSO) is a feature we hear a lot about today. But what does it mean? Let's take a closer look at what single sign-on means for you as you research different learning management systems, and how it connects with other terms you may be researching, such as APIs.

So, what is the deal with single sign-on? Well, to put it simply, single sign-on is a way you can help your users avoid password fatigue. If you plan to deliver eLearning to your employees, single sign-on enables users to take advantage of an authentication system that gives them access to multiple applications with one set of login credentials. They "log in with a single ID and password to gain access to a connected system."

The Benefits

Preventing password fatigue sounds great, but you may be wondering if it is really that important to you -- is it important enough to be a consideration when you are choosing an LMS? Maybe not -- maybe you think that memorizing (or not!) a dizzying array of credentials is just part of modern life. Would you change your mind about the importance of SSO, however, if you knew more about what it could offer? Let's take a look at some of the additional benefits single sign-on has to offer:

  • Time savings: Ensuring that everyone has one login means that your users won't be wasting time trying to remember that their training password is a hybrid combination of their first pet's name and their address. Oh, and every 'a' is an @ symbol.
  • Cost savings: We all know time is money, right? Free your IT team up to concentrate on more pressing matters, instead of wading through multiple password reset requests.
  • Increased security: With single sign-on, there is no need to store or manage passwords on a 3rd party site, and, as this article points out, "with one security token (a username and password pair), you can enable and disable user access ...[and] reduce the risk of lost, forgotten or weak passwords."
  • Better reporting: With single sign-on, you can track when and how often your users are accessing their training, which may give you some interesting data to consider as you develop further training modules.

Single Sign-On vs. API

So, single sign-on sounds pretty good, right? But maybe you've also heard of an application programming interface (commonly referred to as an API), and thinking maybe that would suit your needs instead? Well, the answer to that is yes and no, and it really depends on what your end goal is. We've established that SSO is a great way to streamline the login process for your users. APIs, on the other hand, are more useful from an administrator's perspective. An API allows you to pull or push information from one application to another application. For example, let's say you manage all of your employees using a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) and you want all of the people-related data (i.e., user names, password, email, and other account information), to automatically populate your LMS. Well, setting up an API between your HRMS and LMS will ensure that the information is synced between the two applications.

What does SkillBuilder® LMS offer?

Skillbuilder® LMS has a built-in API Toolkit that allows you to connect any other application to SkillBuilder® LMS and perform important operations such as creating new accounts in SkillBuilder® LMS based on person data in the other application, or sending learning completion data from SkillBuilder® LMS back to the other application. SkillBuilder® LMS also has a number of API connections that are already configured such as Bamboo HR, TaxJar, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Disqus. For more information, contact one of our Learning Experts.

Remember, an API allows you to seamlessly upload data into or download data from your LMS. It enables your learning management system to interact with other programs, apps or software tools you may already have in place, such as a CRM or HRIS, or even existing courseware. This is great for administrators as it ensures that when information in one application is updated, it will automatically update in the second application. Single sign-on, however, is great from a learner's perspective because it simplifies the login experience. Ultimately, SSO and APIs streamline and automate otherwise tedious and time-consuming processes.


Searching for the right LMS can be a confusing process, and that's before you start considering the alphabet soup of acronyms that you should also be considering. Remember that, at the end of the day, SSO and API are both about integrations. Take a deep breath, sit back and look at the big picture, and figure out what you need to make an LMS the right choice for your organization. Hopefully this article has helped make this process a little easier, but feel free to contact one of our learning experts if you would like to know more - we are always happy to help!

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Shauna Carson

Shauna graduated from the University of Toronto in 2002 with a Master of Arts in English before moving home to Calgary to work in the fast-paced, detail-oriented oil and gas industry. Now certified as a technical writer, Shauna is comfortable writing in a variety of styles, and for a variety of audiences.