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  • Jon Howells

Considerations for a laptop deployment project – two years on


A row of laotops

Two years ago, we published an article that provided advice and areas of consideration when undertaking a laptop deployment project. As this article is consistently one of our most read pieces, we thought it was prudent to update this information and use experience from our recent laptop rollout projects to give a fresher, more up-to-date perspective.


For the majority of our clients, we have found that laptops, irrelevant of the role, are being deployed in place of desktop PCs as standard. However, be warned as a laptop may not be welcome by all, whilst most people are happy to be given a laptop, this does not work for all, especially where transporting a device back and forth work is not a viable option. A contingency plan in specific circumstances may be needed.


Key areas to consider


Training

Do not underestimate the need for training. IT teams generally expect that everyone will know how to use a laptop, however, in our experience the reality can be quite a different story. For some it may be the first time of using a laptop and having to regularly plug and unplug cables can be unfamiliar and daunting. Regardless of how simple this may seem to some, training should be offered - consider covering items such as, how to turn the laptop on, how to connect to Wi-Fi and, where relevant, how to use a VPN (this can be a key offender of disruption when it comes to remote working). Short videos can be a helpful tool to assist with training.


VPN or not to VPN?

We often find that the initial thought is to avoid using a VPN when working remotely as it simplifies the process for the end user. However, a number of issues will decide if this is achievable or not it and usually it goes back to one consideration - security. Consider where staff may be using their laptop - a VPN should be considered for those regularly working offsite, not least as some older applications cannot be securely accessed (if at all) without one. This is a key consideration in the preparation of deploying laptops and requires careful thought and thorough testing.


Where does the time go?

Traditionally deploying laptops within a business follows the same or a similar approach to the deployment of PCs. However, when a firm decides to adopt a predominately laptop model there are additional considerations for a firm to make, including improvements in technology and managing devices that may be away from the corporate network for extended periods of time. This is also a sensible time to review additional technologies to help deploy and secure the laptops (e.g. Microsoft’s Autopilot and Intune) along with solutions to manage patches and other required updates. Allow adequate time for all of this, even for a small-scale laptop deployment. A quick project will require two months for a new working approach along with appropriate training, although this can easily be longer.


Big bang vs gradual roll out

When you’re ready to start rolling the laptops out, the approach will depend on your resources and timeline. Firms looking to offer a white glove service may roll out laptops a team at a time, working around the team’s availability and ensuring each individual’s requirements are considered. Whilst this has minimum impact on the users, getting them up and running as quickly as possible, it will also have a significant negative impact on the project timeline. We would recommend this approach for testing with a small number of departments - once comfortable with the process and that users’ requirements are being managed, the rollout can move to larger scale deployments. This will improve timelines, make faster use of the equipment purchased and inevitably allow the IT team to start looking at the next projects the firm has planned.


Final considerations

  • Team specific applications: The main focus will be on the applications everyone uses, however don’t forget to consider the applications that are only used by a handful of people. These can often produce a lot of noise if missed!

  • Consider when to buy your laptops: Do you need to buy all laptops in one go? If you’re not planning on deploying for three to five months’ time your warranty is being wasted!

  • Purchase Vs lease: Discuss the cycle of replacement with the firm’s management team - when do you expect to replace your laptops and could leasing be a sensible option for the firm? Laptops tend to suffer greater wear and tear than PCs so are likely to need replacing more often.

  • Home setup: What kit are you planning to use for home working? Will existing kit be used, will additional items like docking stations be required? This can have a significant impact on the project budget.

  • 2023 lead times have significantly improved compared with two years ago but still shouldn’t be taken for granted.

  • Consider asset management from the start, making sure you track what you have, what’s going out and what’s being retired.

  • Laptop models change frequently so consider what you will do if you need further laptops for new starters, etc. in the coming months. If you’d like to know more about how 3Kites can assist your firm, then please contact laura.howells@3Kites.com.

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