Skip to main content

Five factors to look for when buying a business password manager

person on smartphone in front of laptop
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now more than ever, enlisting the best password managers is critical for businesses. With a business password manager, the threat of increasing cybercrime on vital business operations that have a high degree of reliance on software is minimized.

The best password managers for business (opens in new tab) help you to ensure that your organization's credentials and data remain secure, and its information private. When looking for a business password manager, there are key areas to bear in mind and to consider, so that you make the right decision the first time around.

Below, we've listed and explored five integral factors that all businesses should be looking for in password managers. Taking these five areas into account will help ensure that your adoption of business password manager software is successful.

1. Cross-platform compatibility

screenshot of Windows OS on a desktop

Ensuring cross-platform compatibility, including operating systems, is paramount (Image credit: Shutterstock)

One of the first things to consider when buying a business password manager is cross-platform compatibility. Few businesses use one operating system exclusively, so purchasing a password management solution that only supports macOS but not Windows (or vice versa) is likely to lead to significant complications.

This is because employees using a non-compatible device will be essentially locked out from the service, and will have no way of securely accessing credentials. If this leads to employees sending passwords over unsecured channels (such as email or SMS), it has defeated the purpose of investing in a password manager in the first place.

We recommend choosing a password manager that provides native applications for macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows. While it is less important, we also recommend choosing a password manager with browser extensions for all the major browsers, such as Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox.

These extensions make it easier to log into accounts on the internet and generate or save passwords when logging into a new service.

2. Interoperability with existing software infrastructure

Another important factor to consider in an enterprise credential manager is interoperability. This means that the software will work alongside your existing digital infrastructure and software services. 

For example, the best business password manager software will autofill credentials on both web browsers and desktop applications. This ensures a seamless digital experience, and limits the number of times employees will need to access passwords and other credentials manually. 

Larger organizations should also consider how a password manager might coexist alongside other identity and access management (IAM) services such as single sign-on or multi-factor authentication. Ensuring your IAM ecosystem is intuitive to use for employees is crucial, and should guide your decision-making when buying a password manager.

3. Administrator controls

login page on a web browser

Administrator controls are integral to business security, especially when it comes to staff behavior (Image credit: Getty Images)

Some password management platforms provide more advanced administrator controls and analytics than others. For business leaders, the ability to audit the platform’s use and detect suspicious or irregular behavior is crucial. 

So crucial is the integrity of your credential management systems, that you should ensure your provider gives you the most in-depth and detailed information possible. 

Even from an ease-of-use standpoint, understanding how employees use the platform will help IT administrators optimize the platform and the allocation of permissions. It will also increase the chances of successfully introducing the software into your organizational processes and culture. 

We recommend choosing a password management solution that provides auditing, control of user settings, and other useful analytics.

4. Security policies

Password management is fundamentally about security, so it will be no surprise to hear that one of the most critical considerations in any decision to buy a password manager should be the level of security provided.

Fortunately, most enterprise-oriented password managers provide advanced encryption. You should accept no less than end-to-end encryption, which is the only way to ensure your data’s absolute security. 

End-to-end encryption is also sometimes referred to as zero-knowledge architecture, and it means that not even the provider can access your organization’s credentials. Although the provider designs the back-end infrastructure, it has zero knowledge of the data managed on its platforms. 

Some other security features you should keep an eye out for include secure password sharing and roles-based permissions. Secure password sharing enables users to send encrypted passwords and notes to other users, while roles-based permissions ensure employees only have access to the passwords required for their role. 

In medium and large-sized enterprises, this provides security within the organization, which is crucial in and of itself.

5. Customer support

man on a sales call

Top business password managers provide 24/7 support, ensuring any issues are sorted promptly (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The importance of good customer support is so often underrated that we made sure to include it in this list. This is for the simple fact that if something goes wrong with your password manager, all your accounts could be at risk, potentially compromising your most sensitive data. If there’s an issue, you need to know you can rely on customer support to provide fast and successful troubleshooting. 

The best password managers will include 24/7 customer support for enterprises, and some will even include a dedicated case manager. We recommend choosing a provider that, at a minimum, provides business-hours phone support. 

The top providers will also include comprehensive help centers on their websites, where business leaders and employees can access how-to guides, video tutorials, and community forums. 

Top-quality customer support might not seem to be the most important factor when first purchasing a password manager. However, when you consider how vital the software is to your business’s overarching digital infrastructure and the potential costs to your business if your credentials were compromised, it’s clear that it pays to choose a provider with comprehensive customer support.

Conclusion

Top password managers, compared

• LastPass vs Dashlane (opens in new tab)

• Dashlane vs 1Password (opens in new tab)

• 1Password vs Bitwarden (opens in new tab)

• Bitwarden vs LastPass (opens in new tab)

• LastPass vs 1Password (opens in new tab)

The five factors we’ve discussed in this article separate the good password managers from the great ones. If you’re looking at investing in a credential manager for your business, we believe these features are the place to start. There are more factors to consider before buying a password manager (opens in new tab) for personal use, but these also dovetail with business needs.


Further reading on password managers

Take a look at our guides to the best free password managers (opens in new tab) and the best password recovery tools (opens in new tab). See whether open-source password managers (opens in new tab) and password managers are safe (opens in new tab); and test password strength (opens in new tab) via a series of free tools.