Most organizations understand the need to align technology with users’ needs and changing business requirements. As a result, IT managers and planners are usually pretty attuned to keeping pace with technology change and ensuring that users have the right combination of IT tools to do their jobs. What many organizations don’t do well, however, is managing the deployment of that technology. Efficient deployment depends on effective configuration and image management.
Configuration has become much more than simply loading a software image, and the traditional ‘commoditized’ approach – all desktops get the same image – is no longer adequate. In the absence of the planning, design and testing required to ensure a trouble-free rollout, deployment issues are commonplace.
The most common issues are:
- delays in getting new technology into the hands of users
- users forced to spend time ‘personalizing’ new technology after it’s deployed to them
- user productivity affected by technology integration problems
- insufficient desktop security, exposing data to loss or compromise
- lost productivity on a broad basis due to virus/malware infections
- potential software licensing and regulatory compliance risks
- excessive load on the Help Desk to resolve deployment problems
- low user satisfaction and confidence in IT management
But why is this?
For one thing, most organizations can’t afford to build state-of-the-art software image development and device configuration capabilities: they don’t have the economies of scale to justify it. In addition, and mostly for the same reason, since configuration and image management have traditionally been little more than part-time endeavours for most organizations, they have not developed process efficiencies and quality controls or implemented automated, zero-touch tools that all contribute to error-free deployments.
What to do about it
Outsourcing of some or all of this process is an option. Outsourced configuration management services deliver 'user-ready' technology directly to users. When this is well executed, the end users tend to be happier because the processes are more efficient and the end-results more personalized than they would expect to receive from generalist deployment staff.
From an IT perspective, internal customers—both end-users and managers—are more likely to report satisfaction based on the same metrics, while the internal IT staff are left to focus on core business initiatives and other areas of greater expertise.
The use of external specialists to manage and deploy corporate images raises questions about security. Service providers should be able to provide a complete picture of how they manage security in their configuration centre, including physical security, personnel screening, point to point reliability and speed, and process documentation.
When properly done by an experienced service provider, outsourced technology configuration can ensure a consistent experience across the enterprise that drives user productivity, while reducing deployment time and cost and meeting security requirements.
You may have guessed by now that I'm strongly in the camp of those who see outsourcing as a practical solution for organizations that lack certain levels of in-house expertise. True, they can buy an expert's time, but they might have to wait for it, and if they need a team with the right skill set, that begins to look just like outsourcing.
I don't see ad hoc resource rental as a good answer to a need for regularly recurring expertise. It's great for a one-time architectural redesign, etc., but not so useful when you can only afford part-time resources who need to be at your full-time disposal.
Still, I'm not immune to contrary opinions. So let me know what you think by writing to email@example.com.