From the Factory to the User

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Streamlining Computer Delivery Processes Using 1E Shopping and SCCM

We all come to rely on manufacturers. Every one of us has our preferred computer manufacturer, firewall manufacturer, VPN, and so on. In my case, I love 1E products, I have for 10 plus years. We already had Nomad (best money ever spent), and NightWatchman, and I had been looking at 1E’s Shopping for years. The reason I’m writing this blog post is because of the 1E Professional Services Consultant who did so much for us during this transition – Apurv Gupta. In my many – many times thanking Apurv for his genius, I asked him what I could do for him as thanks. His answer was write a case study on the solution he created for me. So I’m glad to do it, and you can read the full thing on the 1E Resource Center. If you (the reader) get any use out of this, well that’s great, and I will do my best to be clear, and let you know the benefit we get out of every solution, but I write this blog as a heartfelt – thank you! Thanks Apurv!

A couple of years ago, at the environmental firm where I work in the U.S., we decided to create a few “imaging depots” to help us service our users for desktop and laptop delivery. The idea behind these depots was that local staff would build and distribute machines to users across the company.

From a user perspective, the depots were a huge success. When a user got a computer, it came with everything that user needed or requested pre-installed, thanks to a detailed setup process:

  1. The depot tech would use SCCM to image the computers
  2. They would then use a combination of SCCM and manual installations to build the computer for the user
  3. They would get a list of software needed for that user and ensure it was approved by the user’s immediate supervisor and the person holding the purse strings for the division. It was the depot tech’s responsibility to track all of those people and secure written approval
  4. Once the software was installed, the depot tech would manually move the user’s data, often over the WAN from their old machine (if there was one), to the new machine
  5. The depot tech would then pack the computer and ship it and any accessories to the user
  6. The tech would then follow up with the user to make sure everything was ok with the computer

This process represented customer service at its best, but it wasn’t sustainable at all. In fact, from a business perspective, the depots were a disaster. When you’re providing that much customer service using just a few personnel, things are likely to back up, and they did. One of the problems was around storage: machines came from the manufacturer, were unboxed by the depot tech, and stored safely. Since each computer typically came along with more than one monitor, plus accessories, that meant that if 150 computers were ordered, over 300 boxes arrived. Maintaining such a large quantity of equipment at a non-warehouse location wasn’t possible. The depots became time consuming and costly and we needed a way out quickly.

The solution we came up with was this: we would ship the computers directly from the manufacturer to the user, and provide the user with a self-service process to complete the build of their own computer. This process would make the user responsible for ordering their computer through 1E Shopping and setting it up on arrival. Upon connecting the computer to the domain, the user would be able to request the software they need, with all approvals automatically handled and the software is automatically installed on the user’s computer. The final part of the sequence would involve the user running a program to move their data from an existing computer to their new computer. If you’d like more detail on how we did this, you can read the whole – illustrated – story on the 1E website.

Thanks to 1E – and Apurv – we were able to establish this end-to-end automated process without impacting the quality of service experienced by the end user. The business has saved the cost of the imaging depots, but any employee ordering a new computer through Shopping still receives a PC that is fully configured to their needs and can easily switch the data from their old machine to the new one.

Click here to read the full case study.

Gene Acker is an SCCM Architect, Project Manager and Administrator for a large environmental firm in the U.S. He has been working with Microsoft System Management software since early SMS 2003. Gene is also a systems administrator, and an automation specialist. Prior to working in the IT field he spent 15 years in the United States Navy in a technical related field.

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