What can SMBs do to reduce IT support costs and also get some other benefits?
When it comes to IT maintenance and support, it is apparent that smaller organizations are paying much more per PC than their corporate cousins. One way to reduce this gap is to implement a similar set of policies and procedures also known as “Standard Operating Environment” aimed at reducing differences between end user systems while increasing their stability and predictability. Often times ignored, the lack of standardization leads to unpredictable PC behaviors, unhappy or complaining users, higher helpdesk costs and even reduced asset lifecycles due to premature system replacement.
Guidelines to deploy an efficient SOE model in 2013
The original concept of a standardized operating environment has greatly evolved in recent years as hardware and software technologies have provided the necessary means to reduce the complexity of the end points (PCs, laptops). Much less software needs to be deployed and maintained at the end-user level allowing for less complex re-install procedures if a system needs to be rebased (imaging or scripting methods). The 2013 adjusted Standard Operating Environment framework should promote the following concepts and their respective benefits in order to achieve better cost control and predictability:
SOE Components & TCO Optimizers
Leverage Cloud based applications
Deploy Application publishing on local servers
Use Thin Client when possible
Use an image or script based rebasing process
Reduce the needs for updates & upgrades
No need to install local apps on PCs
Predictable by design (Solid state technology)
Facilitate PC / laptop re-installs (automation)
Use Microsoft Group Policy Object (GPO) :
• Password rotation & Screen savers policies / Reduce external/internal security risks
• My Documents Folder redirection / Avoid locally stored data (data loss risk)
• Login & Startup scripts / Always get mapped to proper drives & printers
• Configure energy saving plans / Reduced energy consumption
• Auto-enable local Firewall when roaming / Security protection when outside the office
• Deploy Electronic Acceptable Use Policy / Remind users what they can/can’t do with asset
• Remove local admin privileges to users / Prevents installation of rogue apps
Deploy an RMM* agent on each PC/Laptop Remote support / Preventative maintenance
Active monitoring (Hw & Sw) / Virus protection
(* RMM= Remote Management& Monitoring)
What should a Small Business expect from a properly deployed SOE environment?
When deploying some or all of the above concepts as part of a global SOE initiative, companies can expect significant benefits in terms of increased manageability, tighter security, lower support costs and better predictability for users when using corporate assets. Finally - as a word of wisdom and considering my own experience regarding this topic with Small and Midsize Businesses as well as with super large organizations- I can’t stress enough the importance of getting upper management’s buy-in before trying to implement these key concepts. Human being behavior is such that any perceived removal of freedom will sure enough trigger sporadic mini-revolutions…..