How to successfully manage a computer park while getting out of lockdown?

Personae Computer park users

For a lot of IT departments, getting out of lockdown can have a bitter taste. Management of the computer park has been transformed by the generalization of remote working, multiplication of laptops, explosion of the number of devices – leading to cost issues, including licensing – and sometimes unauthorised use of third-party tools used (and sometimes with more convenience)instead of official supported tools.

While some IT departments, including international groups or companies spread over several territories, had already put in place a technical base and good management practices that mitigated impacts, many of them are facing a very difficult situation.

How to regain control of IT asset for users after such a paradigm shift?

First questions that comes to mind, and that are unfortunately often the only ones addressed, are of a technological nature:

  • Can we deploy docking stations on our premises to replace desktops?
  • Are laptops that we acquired in emergency powerful enough to meet the needs?
  • How to secure the posts that would remain on the desks?
  • How to avoid local document storage on laptops?

All these questions, while legitimate, are in fact secondary. There are always technical solutions – publishers and their sales spokesmen are very prolific about that.

 

Persona, or how to manage usages’ and users’ diversity

First challenge: on the contrary to business specific applications, it is rare to have inside the company a business stakeholder in charge of managing business uses and choices for the end-user computer management. Best case scenario that we can encounter is having several key-users, with various usages but capable of defining a common ground, but more often than not no one on the business side handles this topic.

A good way of managing this challenge is to draw inspiration from “personae” method as described by Alan Cooper to design a set of “use case and user”. To each personae you can associate:

  • A dedicated business representative with “Product owner” duties,
  • A predefined set of standardized hardware and software addressing 80% of the needs,
  • A governance practice to manage continual improvement of the solution.

Those personas enable IT departments to establish capabilities aligned to actual needs and to design a shared strategy on IT assets for users.

To make the outcomes tangible, taking into account maturity and cultural habits of the company is mandatory. We recommend a phased deployment, with a governance of change inspired by SCRUM sprints. This offers the best value/effort ratio: thus, from sprint to sprint, each "Product Owner" for each persona sees a progression and a regular value gain: at such a sprint we have deployed an "application store", at another one a counter to exchange a laptop in case of an incident, etc.

 

Facing complexity

Second challenge: IT asset management is a complex practice. Workstations, licenses, packaging, standardization, integration of applicative roadmaps, pick-up desk, equipment logistics, remote and on-site support...: whichever solution is chosen, all these points must be addressed. However, they often are addressed afterwards, when – at best –first problems and additional costs arise.

The best thing to do is to mobilize the teams working on the infrastructure on a daily basis to define with them 2 to 4 organizational models enabling to address:

  • The diversity of uses and users,
  • The way software solutions are distributed,
  • Management of technical roadmaps,
  • The provision of equipment,
  • The good practices to be promoted regarding local and personal data,
  • User support

 

These designs must absolutely include a global cost analysis (material, licenses, personnel involved, transportation, fixed assets, support, power consumption, etc.).

By doing so, IT departments achieve a good overview of their capabilities on service around their IT assets for end-users. Confronting their capabilities with the outcomes of personae design ensures a proper fit for all managed needs.

 

A client’s success

We had the opportunity to support a client in this process. Initiated before the lockdown, it has been speeded up by the events of this spring.

Initially, the infrastructure consisted of 120,000 workstations for 70,000 employees. After a global cost analysis, it was decided to simplify configurations (using the personae method) and to generalize the use of laptops (see distribution diagram):

 

  • Identification of only 8 typical profiles ("personas"), matching a typical configuration covering: hardware, software, service provided...

gestionduparc

  • Setting up standard, easy-to-manage configurations where hardware only represents 10% of total costs.
  • Implementation of customer-oriented service:
    • "Ready-to-use" off-the-shelf laptops,
    • Reception of customers in valorizing premises,
    • Equipment specifically adapted to the needs.
  • Under evaluation for the next sprint: generalization of SharePoint for data management.

 

Well managed, this process brings:

  • Strong buy-in: users are recognized in their own needs and valued in their expectations.
  • A service both adjusted to each persona and standardized in its organization.
  • A real IT strategy enabling quality of service and associated costs to be controlled.

 

A big thank you to the authors of this article: Julien BONTEMPELLI, Jean MILLET and Nicolas ROYER.

 

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