As lockdown is slowly lifted and some semblance of normality returns, organisations are understandably looking to get back to business as usual.
After the rush to implement remote working and secure users (and the sigh of relief after successfully getting everything done!) it feels as if the chaos is over and the dust finally settling.
There’s more to consider than just patting ourselves on the back and heading back to work though; focusing on getting to BAU might not be the best idea.
Hear us out – whilst you’re (quite rightly) focused on distancing tape, plastic screens and endless bottles of hand sanitiser, now is the time to review your setup, analyse your activities and determine whether there’s opportunities to save money, increase productivity or simply make your IT team a little happier!
Panic buying = inefficiencies
The call to work remotely caused a spike in businesses using VPN and cloud services to get their teams set up and working securely, but did they purchase the best kit for the job? Now’s the time to review what you bought and whether it needs scaling up or down to suit your needs.
Using Windows Virtual Desktop? There may be an opportunity to reduce some of the virtual machines you’re using and scale down now that laptop shortages are over. This is also a good time to review your cloud footprint and look into reducing any monthly pay-as-you-go costs that may have risen during the pandemic.
Likewise you may have bought into systems, services or subscriptions that aren’t necessarily the most cost-effective solutions – now is the time to assess what you’re actually using and refine.
Are you managing your devices properly?
Remote working was, for many, a big problem that needed a fast solution – so managers were setting their teams up on laptops, tablets and basically anything they could get their hands on! Whilst this was great in the short term, now’s the time to get some proper mobile device management in place so your devices are secure.
If you have users working from home, you need at least the minimum level of management over their devices – it’s a must for businesses to support protection of company data and support users outside of the corporate network.
These services look to add or extend management for patching and software deployment, remote control and other common system configuration tasks.
Scheduling and maintenance
Are your teams starting to head back to work?
Moving back into the office could offer an opportunity for service improvement and cost savings when managing devices due to the increase in predictability of devices being on-site at specific times. When performing updates or changes to devices, it is often a thankless task trying to find the right time to do this in a way which has minimal impact on users and infrastructure such as networks.
Many organisations have been managing this task remotely during the recent pandemic – which can restrict available and often already limited bandwidth for core job functions, overload VPN connections, increase costs and simply not fit with the flexible working patterns many have taken. It’s been a challenge for many.
Early signs of returning to central workplaces suggest many organisations are implementing working ‘bubbles’ where a percentage of workers are back in the workplace at specific times on specific days in a rota system. This can offer an opportunity to IT administrators who will then have a level of predictability of when specific devices will be on the corporate network and better placed to take changes or updates.
We often talk about phasing out change to organisations, this offers an opportune occasion to align any device maintenance windows which could offer lower cloud egress costs by utilising the corporate network to apply changes and also reduce failure rates on changes with a more predictable working pattern. Consequently, this is likely to lead to a better remote working experience as we alleviate some of those remote administration challenges.
Is it time to revisit BYOD?
Many organisations have decided to embrace this new way of working – could we see a trend in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) increasing? Lots of teams have been given allowances to buy new laptops, but there’s potential for cost-saving here (depending on your desktop environment).
You could move to a BYOD policy, include a device allowance within your employee benefits and utilise Intune (which enrols light or full management) to manage security. This can tie in well with a virtual desktop to provide fully-managed desktops for industries working with sensitive data, such as finance or law, so you can ensure employees are working securely from any device.
A setup like this can get rid of the administrative overheads of leasing or buying laptops, and remove the need to provision or build devices – everything is published via Windows Virtual Desktop or Intune.
This one is worth looking into as it could save costs and time, but needs to be reviewed thoroughly to ensure it fits with your organisation.
These ideas may not work for everyone, but hopefully this blog gives you some food for thought and a reminder to look at your IT estate with a critical eye now normality seems to be returning.
Why aim for BAU when you can aim higher?
But wait! There’s more…
We know organisations are still being hit by challenges with remote working – which is why we created our five-part series to help IT teams with the practicalities of remote working and device management:
- Remote Management Tooling: Device management for protecting data/users wherever they’re based – Endpoint Manager, Config Manager, Cloud Mgmt Gateways & Intune.
- VPN Solutions: Best practice guidance for implementing/using VPNs – Always On VPN (AOVPN) & Direct Access.
- Remote Desktop Solutions: Review remote desktop options and how businesses are using them – Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) and other desktop options.
- Remote Access Management: Robust approaches to access management to guard against cyber criminals – Conditional Access, Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign On (SSO).
- Application Security Controls: Keeping data and applications safe on personal/professional devices – WVD, Azure AD app proxy