Thursday, 22 December 2011 09:37

Two desktop management practices that keep the IT department strategic

By Chad Basham

If you're constantly struggling to convince everyone from your CEO to your own staff that the IT department is much more than a desktop management service provider, you're not alone. The following are two practices that all IT departments should employ.

IT departments worldwide find their efforts to become integral, strategic members of their larger organizations consistently thwarted by overwhelming calls to troubleshoot Microsoft Office problems or last-minute scrambling to gather software licensing information before an audit. The truth is when your staff is bombarded with desktop management demands, reaching high-level goals will always remain a distant second.

Instead of trying to balance desktop management with fulfilling an ambitious IT strategy, outsourcing software asset management, desktop deployment, and remote'”as well as onsite'”desktop support frees your staff to focus on big-ticket items, often for a cheaper price tag than keeping these desktop management services in-house.

To help you achieve more with your IT team, we've identified a couple of key desktop management best practices to follow as you plan to transition your staff from low-value'”yet mission-critical'”desktop management services to a strategy powerhouse.

1. Determine the state of your environment, inside and out. While this sounds like a daunting task, its importance can't be understated. Whether you choose to outsource desktop management or not, you can't understand your needs without a comprehensive assessment of everything tech-related in your company's domain.

As you begin examining your organization's environment, ask these questions:
    Is the environment up to date? Does all of your software'”including operating systems'”have the most recent, secure patches and updates?
    If you find various versions of software among employees, what's the reason for the discrepancy? Do certain employees or groups need features only available in older versions? Or is it simply an oversight?
    How do you plan and prepare for your desktop refresh? Is it a well-documented desktop deployment process, or an ad hoc task? Are you and your staff prepared to update your desktop every 6 or 12 months?
    Is your software volume license up to date? A huge time drain in desktop management is managing and updating complex licensing agreements.

This type of discovery requires a significant time-investment. Rather than bog down your IT department with this desktop management project, look to an experienced IT firm that can assist or assume full responsibility for assessing your environment, and then help you design your volume license and desktop support needs based on that assessment.  

2.  Ensure global and local desktop deployment methods are in place. You undoubtedly know the Pareto principle states that 20% of the work will consume 80% of your employees' time. With the proper desktop deployment measures in place, approximately 20% of your IT department's time should be able to cover 80% of your deployments.

After your staff or an outsourced IT firm has assessed your environment, you'll have the opportunity to manage deployment using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).  Here's where you can make 80% of your deployments easily manageable.

But what about the remaining 20% of software desktop deployment and system needs? For most companies, this takes 80% of their time. However, delegating these desktop management and desktop deployment tasks to an IT service provider with proven methods and extensive experience will help keep your team focused on strategic goals, not one-off software deployments and upgrades.

An experienced IT firm will take critical deployment headaches off your plate, including:
'¢    Packaging and installing software applications.
'¢    Providing compatibility testing.
'¢    Installing security fixes.
'¢    Specifying the desired configuration and upgrading your fleet accordingly.
'¢    Measuring software usage.
'¢    Remotely controlling computers and providing support.

With codified deployment processes and comprehensive IT environment assessment - and the right IT partner - your staff can spend less time on desktop management services and more time contributing to the overall business strategy.

Chad Basham is the General Manager of Professional Services for Datacom, NSW. Datacom is a complete IT outsourcing firm with offices throughout Australia and New Zealand.


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