How to Prepare for Your Organization’s Device Refresh

Your upcoming device refresh doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth process.

As every IT manager knows, a poorly managed device refresh can place greater strain on IT departments or negatively impact end user productivity. If you’ve faced these challenges before, or are looking to add more structure to your process, we offer these tips to improve every step of your device refresh, from purchase timing to imaging and deployment.

Benefits of a Planned Device Refresh Cycle

Devices over five years old require more IT time, introduce more security risks, and reduce employee productivity from slow systems & software incompatibility issues. As noted in the Forbes article, Outdated Technology is Costing You More Than You Think, technology can drive innovation for your organization – or it can hold it back.

“People spend more time navigating administrative tasks [associated with outdated technology] than they do actually engaging with customers and each other in value-added ways.”

A planned device replacement strategy every 2-4 years can help reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) associated with devices, helping:

  • Prevent technological obsolescence such as unsupported software or hardware that introduce security and compliance risks
  • Meet employee expectations based on the user experiences of their personal devices, helping support productivity
  • Reap the benefits of new devices, which often are more energy efficient, reliable, and incorporate the latest technology such as high bandwidth streaming to support end users and the demands of more sophisticated applications
  • Reduce downtime and failure points associated with older systems

6 Crucial Steps to Prepare for Your Device Refresh

After negotiating your bulk purchase or lease agreement, you are now ready to deploy your new devices. Congratulations! Whether you’re managing these as fully corporate-owned devices or have a choose-your-own-device (CYOD) program, you need to put steps in place to manage deployment of many devices at once.

  1. Evaluate your infrastructure

    New devices may place new demands on your IT environment, so it’s important to assess your infrastructure to be sure you can support and take advantage of everything your new devices have to offer. Often such assessments will reveal end of life equipment (such as printers) or performance issues (software or hardware related) that need to be addressed before they impact end user productivity.

  2. Prep a Staging Area

    Although technologies such as Apple DEP, managed within a platform such as FileWave, allows you to hand out fully customized devices to users still in shrinkwrap, large scale device refreshes are often managed centrally. In this case, IT teams will manage the unboxing and distribution of devices to end users, which takes both time and space. Set up a large area to unbox, charge, and allow devices to run through your custom configuration sequences. Given how easy today’s tools make imaging and deployment, you will likely be able to set up dozens of devices at one time – so be sure to label devices to each user and destination for later distribution.

  3. Debug Refreshes with Testing

    To minimize impact on end user productivity, it’s important to test software, settings, and configurations on new devices. Testing of specific configurations should be done across local production environments, to allow for variations in application licensing that may impact end users.

  4. Imaging Consistent with Company Standards

    Configuring thousands of devices to be consistent with company standards sounds intimidating, but that’s where planning and automation come in. Before your devices even arrive, your team can leverage newer technologies and best practices such as Apple DEP to determine the settings, software, and configurations needed for every user and device.

  5. Software Distribution by User Groups

    It is not cost effective, or productive, to supply the same applications to all users. Instead, take the time to create or revise user groups based on criteria you determine, including departments or grade levels, device types, and operating systems. Leveraging these user groups and VPP management, you can direct licensed apps to the right macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android devices without the need for end-user management or the physical presence of IT personnel.

  6. Distributing Devices

    After the device has been unboxed and configured, it must find its way to the end user. For school 1:1 programs, device distribution is typically managed on a particular day with a sign-out process, while in an enterprise environment, delivery logistics must be accounted for.

For global organizations, it is impractical, if not impossible, to physically touch and deliver thousands of devices within a short span of time. Where staging is impractical, devices can be delivered directly to end users after local testing has been completed, with automated enrollment processes deliver the fully customized deployment needed for each user and device.

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