5 Tips for Windows 10 Lifecycle Management for Remote Workers

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Published on January 6, 2021 by

Andrew Sweeney

There have been huge changes to the way we live and work in 2020. As COVID-19 forced us to stay apart but remain productive, companies told us to go home and work. One survey of US workers found that 66% were working from home at least part of the week as a result of the pandemic, with 44% working at home full time!

We all hoped it would be over in a few weeks, but months later, little has changed. Many companies have extended their homeworking policies and some are thinking of shrinking office space permanently. For IT teams, remote working increases the complexity of endpoint management, making the rollout of critical programs, such as Windows 10 servicing, a bigger headache.

When the majority of employees are in the office full time, these rollouts are less of a challenge. Machines are physically present and connected to a reliable network allowing you to push out updates during maintenance windows or deliver replacement hardware after-hours. Add remote working into the mix and this becomes more difficult. You have no idea when employees will connect to the company network, if their internet connection is stable enough to enable a successful update, and if it will be necessary to manage the logistics associated with shipping and receiving new hardware to home offices

To address these problems, you’ll need to adopt an ongoing approach to Windows 10 servicing. Here are five tips that can help:

1.  Run readiness checks

Before you deploy a Windows update, you’ll need to evaluate the readiness of every component across your network – including users, applications and equipment. This will determine if existing hardware needs to be replaced, if applications need to be upgraded, and which users have special requirements, such as VIP support. This type of visibility is vital in helping project managers plan and successfully implement rollouts while minimizing disruption for users.

2.  Allow users to self-schedule updates

Once readiness is established, you’ll want to schedule the update. Download time could take minutes or hours depending on the update size and bandwidth constraints. The longer it takes to complete, the more opportunities there are for failure as machines get turned off or network connectivity is broken, forcing the update to fail or restart. You can reduce these risks by allowing users to ‘self-service’ or schedule their update at a time convenient to them in line with your capacity. This way you will know they’ll be connected for the duration of the download.

3.  Leverage scripts to determine bandwidth constraints

If you sent your workforce home with new laptops at the start of the pandemic, it could be that their home internet connectivity is the only is the only obstacle to a successful upgrade. By deploying a lightweight script through SCCM that runs undetected in the background, you can conduct a speed test to determine constraints ahead of time.

4.  Build a hardware replacement workflow

If you didn’t provide users with new laptops, they may require a hardware upgrade for the Windows 10 update. To simplify this, you will need to design a workflow that incorporates building, boxing, shipping, and tracking the replacement hardware, as well as foolproof instructions on how to return old equipment. Keep in mind that remote workers may require additional assistance to get their new hardware up and running.

5.  Monitor the status of updates

It is vital to monitor the status of any project and you’ll need to be extra vigilant when upgrading remote machines. If the update is interrupted, you’ll want to know right away so you can either restart or reschedule at a more convenient time.

 Automation reduces time, costs and risks

It’s clear that by executing these tasks manually it will take many months to complete Windows 10 servicing for remote workers. If you don’t have the luxury of time, it’s going to become an issue.

ReadyWorks offers a solution that uses automation to reduce the time, cost, and risks associated with rolling out updates or delivering hardware to remote users – all while delivering a superior experience. Workflows and task assignment are automatically triggered by system events and readiness status, reducing manual effort and complexity at every step of the rollout.

Connectivity to any existing data repository automates the collation of user, application and equipment data as well as other relevant information, allowing you to more easily identify readiness criteria, such as:

  • Is the device being used by a remote worker?
  • What is the user’s location?
  • Is a memory upgrade required to handle the update?
  • Has the user’s hardware has been identified to be replaced or upgraded?

Once you have defined readiness based on user groups you can plan the deployment in waves and define the project communications plan using templates available in ReadyWorks. You can even give users access to a self-service portal to schedule a convenient time for their update or to request new hardware within their specific deployment wave. Their response will trigger a workflow that will begin at the time they have selected. If they don’t respond to emails, ReadyWorks leverages event triggers to automate activities such as terminating VPN access until the update is completed.

ReadyWorks collates the results of any script you run to test download and upload speeds. By pre-defining a bandwidth threshold, the user’s update will be scheduled by a command issued to SCCM if test results fall within that threshold. If not, a task will be assigned to the help desk, ensuring someone calls the user and helps them work around the problem.

ReadyWorks allows you to easily monitor the update status of all remote machines. For example, when a device connects to the VPN, an agent on the machine connects to the asset management software used to determine what upgrades are needed. It then provides information on the SCCM console regarding the status – completed, interrupted, or still needs updates. That information automatically updates your data in real time and dashboards allow you to see the program status from various viewpoints. You can share links with managers so that they can also see progress, removing the need to manually compile reports.

Our customers have used automation to reduce the cost of Windows 10 Servicing by 50% or more while providing a superior end user experience. Learn how ReadyWorks can help you successfully deliver Windows updates to your remote workers. Schedule a demo today.