Back to school – are your IT systems ready?

Back to schoolSummer has come to an end, and schools have started a new term, highlighted by the mad rush of activity within the IT department to get things ready and ensure everybody has a consistent, productive IT experience.

The activities that cause IT departments pain at the beginning of term are numerous, often compounded by the fact that staff have had their laptops at home over the summer, meaning that these devices generally haven’t been receiving updates or anti-virus definitions for nearly two months. Cue the complaints about machines being slow and taking hours to upgrade or apply updates.

Coupled with this additional user support burden, the IT team has a lot of on-boarding work to do before the start of term; users who have left need to be disabled or deleted, and their work archived. Users who have joined need to have their accounts set up and configured. We may be talking about 500 accounts that require attention, a process which would daunt most commercial organisations.

Additionally, software must be installed or updated at the start of term, and the IT team generally get very little notice of this. Quite often it only comes to light that a new package is required when it is mentioned by a staff member on the first day of term!

The start of term is a thankfully brief, but highly stressful time for an IT department. But most of the challenges above can be mitigated through automation; the automatic creation of user accounts, the automatic deletion and archiving of leaver’s data, automatic (or at least centrally managed) deployment of software and updates, and the automatic application of permissions to use the software. The key to all of the above is high quality user management, and the correct usage of groups and OU’s within Active Directory. This, coupled with the right toolsets, can significantly reduce the time required to manage an environment, and therefore the stress and cost associated with it.

All of the above can help smooth out the difficulties associated with the transition of one term to the next, and through the provision of smart desktop management tools, such as network based deployment processes or desktop virtualisation, day to day tasks associated with desktop support can also be undertaken in a calmer, more efficient fashion.

Toby

Author: Toby Skerritt, End-User Computing Lead
Toby is responsible for the design and implementation of EUC projects for Foundation IT’s clients. He has worked in a variety of roles across the IT industry, often focused on the educational benefits of technology.

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