During the initial stages of rolling out a Choose Your Own Device pilot at Softchoice, one major stakeholder in shaping the program was our help desk team. Our IT department dictated which devices we’re the best options for the program and which employees would be best suited for the program.
Above all else, I needed our help desk to agree to image and provide a minimum level of support for the participants in the program. Tyler Astle, our Service Desk Team Lead here, took on the responsibility of the program, and I recently sat down with him to understand what his experience was supporting our CYOD pilot from an IT perspective.
Angela: Tell me about the standard image we used. Was it easy to deploy?
Tyler: The devices chosen for this pilot consisted of Intel based laptops, tablets and ultrabooks. The majority of devices are running Windows 8 and a small handful (the non touch devices) are running Windows 7.
Windows 8 was a new OS for our help desk team. The biggest problem we encountered, that we were unaware of prior to starting the pilot, was that we did not have a Windows 8 standard image readily available. This meant our IT team had to develop a strategy to get a standard image configured on our devices before they could be used.
This was a major problem that needed to be addressed as the turn nature of the program was to provide our participants with a device that was ready for them to work (and play). Not having a proper corporate image prevented our participants with the ability to smoothly connect to our corporate domain.
What we learned from this experience was that the operating system image has to be standardized before implementing a CYOD model. This way all required software could be pre-installed and configured, leading to a much smoother implementation.
This was a big miss on our end, and with XP going end of life, we now need to prepare for the future (for both our typical PC refresh cycles and if we grow the CYOD program) which includes a Windows 8 standard image ready.
Angela: Tell me about the kind of support you needed to provide pilot participants.
Tyler: In the first month of the pilot program we had to provide a good level of support to help participants get comfortable with their new devices. However, I was surprised at how quickly the participants got used to their devices. After a month into the program, support from an IT perspective became nearly nonexistent.
Having said that, providing initial support to remote users wasn’t as easy. I found myself having to email instructions and provide guidance over the phone. Although this was time consuming, it was well worth the effort, especially when you consider that productivity can suffer if these problems aren’t promptly and successfully resolved.
In addition to providing day-to-day support, the major compromise our team made was configuring and installing programs. It took our IT team approximately 1 hour per device to install work applications and set up a Windows 8 standard images.
Angela: So which model do you prefer? CYOD or BYOD?
Tyler: What we’ve discovered is that a CYOD model is resulted in a number of hiccups. However, we’ve worked through them so you don’t have to. After all, a BYOD model comes with its own set of problems. The key challenge for any IT department is finding a balance between what IT wants (control) and what employee want (freedom).
My advice to any employees participating in a CYO program (either of the end user, the program owner, or the IT personal supporting the program) is to be patient. There is always a learning curve when you start working with new devices. With the right strategy and proper support from your IT department, you can and reap the rewards that CYOD has to offer without having to compromise on security.