Reduce Help Desk Backlogs and Resource Strains with a Device Management Solution
For this article we interviewed BlackBerry Alliance member CA Inc. Senior Director of Product Management Allen Houpt shares some of the benefits of device management solutions and questions to consider in evaluating and planning implementation of your own solution.
As mobile deployments expand, IT policies and procedures associated with deployment and management grow in numbers and complexity — and sometimes more quickly than IT departments anticipate.
A formal device management strategy can alleviate the resource strain that comes with managing multiple IT policies and the increased requests placed on help desks and device administrators when mobile deployments begin to expand rapidly.
With a device management strategy, companies can automate many of the monitoring and management procedures that administrators currently execute using manual commands. This automation can reduce help desk tickets, ensure consistent adherence to IT policies across the enterprise, and provide an audit trail for better compliance-adherence practices.
What's more, a clearly-defined device management strategy sets the stage for user self-service, an area of tremendous cost savings potential for most companies.
The Need For a Formal Device Management Strategy
Some large organizations already manage their smartphone deployment just as they do other IT assets, like laptops and desktops. However, growing companies of all sizes can benefit from adopting a formal device management strategy, because IT departments everywhere often face these common factors when it comes to their mobile deployment:
- Work is increasingly being performed remotely. By 2009, 70% of knowledge work will occur from remote locations (according to Gartner Group),
- Device upgrades occur more frequently than ever before as smartphone functionality continues to evolve,
- IT policies by device are in a constant state of change, as devices get deployed to more user groups, and as users change roles in the organization,
- Like all portable hardware, the propensity for smartphones to be lost or stolen is always a concern, and
- Device management processes are not standardized or automated and often human intensive resulting in poor accountability and business risk.
Process Automation at the Heart of Device Management
“Generally speaking, multiple IT policies might come into play once a deployment hits 1000 devices, but sometimes it can happen earlier,” says Allen Houpt, Senior Director, Product Management at CA, a leading IT systems management vendor. “We’re seeing that IT administrators just don’t have the time to constantly monitor and enforce IT policies across hundreds or thousands of devices. What many companies need is a formalized, automated process in place to solve the inefficiencies and business risks that emerge once their deployment balloons in size.”
Some enterprises have taken steps to lighten the management burden of their large deployment by integrating device management procedures with their enterprise directories, effectively automating the execution of certain device management processes.
Third party solutions from BlackBerry® Alliance Partners, like CA Software with CA Mobile Device Management, have emerged to meet this need for medium-to-large enterprises by integrating the enterprise directory, the BlackBerry® Enterprise Server and all BlackBerry® smartphones. These solutions relieve administrative burden within IT departments by bringing time-saving standardization and automation to the processes of identifying when action needs to be taken and then executing commands on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
Device Management and BlackBerry Enterprise Server
With an integrated solution in place, changes in the enterprise directory can trigger a command for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server to take appropriate action based on established processes. In the case of an employee being promoted, for example, the appropriate new IT policy can be instantly sent to the employee’s smartphone with no manual interaction required. This eliminates help desk tickets, tightens adherence to IT policies, and provides an audit trail of all automated transactions. It also eliminates many of the human touch-points where errors can be made and productivity impacted.
Device Management at Your Organization: Questions to Consider
Implementing an optimal solution for device management begins with a holistic understanding of how BlackBerry smartphones are being used across your organization. This means considering the geographic dispersion of users, BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, and administrators, how BlackBerry smartphones are assigned and dispersed across the organization, and what users belong to which IT policy categories.
Here is a list of key areas to examine and questions to ask to help your organization map out a device management strategy that accommodates your growing BlackBerry smartphone deployment.
1. Leverage Your Existing Asset Management BlackBerry Policies
What standard policies are in place today for other types of end user devices like laptops and desktops? You can use these as a guide for establishing polices to manage your BlackBerry smartphones, as the same principles will apply. For example, current inventory count, costs, serial number and assigned users, re-issues, license tracking, IT policies assigned by user group, and procedures for lost devices can all mirror the policies in place for other IT assets.
2. Examine Your Users and Support Structure
Are there different individuals that require different policies based on their position, role, or geographic location? Do certain individuals, like C-level executives, require dedicated monitoring, management and support of their smartphones?
Also consider your optimal management structure, from both IT administrator and help desk perspectives. Can you operate with a centralized management structure that manages your entire global environment, across all domains, servers and databases? Or do you need a decentralized management structure with localized groups supporting different global jurisdictions? This might be the right time to explore if efficiencies or security benefits can be gained by introducing a hybrid approach where device management is decentralized, but one or two people have centralized abilities to view and manage the entire environment.
3. Consider Self Service: Your Biggest Cost Saving Opportunity
Who should be managing what aspects of your BlackBerry deployment? Lower-level procedures like activations and password changes are ideal candidates to be moved to a self-service portal so users can perform these tasks themselves.
Without question, the biggest cost savings of a device management strategy come with introducing a self-service capability. The success of a self-service initiative depends largely on the degree of intuitiveness of the self-service interface, as well as the culture of your user community. Are they ready to embrace the responsibility of self-service?
Some organizations may require an administrator to approve self-service transactions. Others may assign help desk staff to perform all transactions for C-level users, regardless of the simplicity of the task.
4. Anticipate Changes
Understanding your organization’s culture will help you plan for, and accommodate, change amongst your user community. Are users in your company regularly transferred from one geography to another, or from one department to another? Is there rapid promotion? What is your IT roadmap and how will that impact how mobile employees use their smartphones in the next six-to-twelve months? What other factors are likely to cause changes in your environment?
BlackBerry Alliance Partner Solution Spotlight: CA Mobile Device Management
CA Mobile Device Management eliminates manual tasks and enhances adherence to IT policy by automatically initiating commands to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, based on triggering events in your enterprise directory. It also provides device user self service and the ability to view/manage devices across the entire environment from a single point.
Automation and Policy Adherence with Policy Groups
CA Mobile Device Management’s integration with the enterprise directory enables you to define Policy Groups based upon simple queries of any directory attributes of the user population. Based on these queries, users are assigned to Policy Groups which are linked to the specific IT Policies that belong on their devices. Automated events follow, such as:
- When a smartphone is initially activated, automatically assign appropriate IT Policy for the device,
- When a user’s role changes, automatically push a new IT Policy to the smartphone,
- Regularly monitor all devices to identify any out-of-compliance smartphones, and re-assign appropriate IT Policy. This is done by an automatic synchronization (set for any interval) to catch any IT Policies that may have been assigned to a user in error.
Integration with the enterprise directory also enables other non-IT Policy types of automation such as, when an employee terminates to automatically lock or wipe the smartphone or invoke any other process. In addition, reports can be issued to the organization’s compliance or audit systems when such events occur and actions are taken.
Optimal Resource Allocation with Access Groups
Similar to Policy Groups, Access Groups can be created to align device users with specific device administrators or help desk support resources. For example, all devices belonging to sales representatives in Asia can be managed by the help desk in western Asia or even by a specific help desk in Asia. In addition, maybe one administrator or group has the authority to view and manage all devices across the organization.
Likewise, one BlackBerry Enterprise Server administrator can be assigned responsibility for managing all C-level executive smartphones.
Reduced Downtime and Lower Administration Costs with Self-Service
The CA Mobile Device Management solution enables self-service via a web-based portal, so users can perform any over-the-air commands themselves, such as locking and unlocking devices and resetting passwords. The interface is intuitive, with only two screens to navigate and no user training required.
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