Walking the Line – User Satisfaction vs Security & Control

If you have been involved in managing an IT environment there’s a good chance you know about ‘the line’. The fine line between a perfectly managed and controlled end user device, and user satisfaction. In most instances you will lean towards one or the other but rarely both.

Yes your desktop fleet might have tight policies, consistency and top notch protection but your users will often tell you of the amazing things they can do on their home computer. They’ll ask “why can’t we do that here?”. On the other side of the line you may relax the rules to increase the user satisfaction, but then you could be dealing with 5 users watching YouTube, 3 users downloading iTunes updates with the rest complaining about how slow the internet access is.

If you want to walk that line here are some considerations to help you get there.

  • Implement policies – By spending the time to setup user and device based policies, you can ensure that the user experience will be consistent between devices. Choosing to control things such as which apps are allowed to be installed or where files are saved can bring you one step closer to sipping Pina Colada’s on the beach while the environment manages itself. At the very least it reduces the chances of headaches and fire-fighting within your IT support team.
  • Communication works both ways – Involving your users while you shape the environment and the controls around it will help get them onboard with the changes you make and improve your chances of reaching that user satisfaction nirvana. Rather than dictate to them how this will be done, let them express their opinions and get feedback on what is and isn’t working for them. If you’re going to go down the authoritarian path anyway, at least make the users think they are being heard.
  • Consider BYOD – The quickest way to an end-user’s heart is to let them use their own devices. They’re already comfortable using it so it’s win/win right? BYOD can be a good idea initially but without proper controls it can quickly spiral into anarchy. The trick is to allow them to use their own device but then funnel them down a ‘walled garden’ where they can then access the apps and data they need. Applications such as Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop can achieve this without requiring complex configuration on a user device. This also reduces the risk of data loss via an unmanaged device.
  • Secure your network – If you decide to relinquish some control of the end user device, you can still achieve a level of control of the environment by tightening up your network. Policies can be put in place to control which devices can access which networks, applications or services. Health checks can be performed on a device before it is allowed to connect to anything. You might want to put in a wireless network separate from your production network so that users can connect their phones/tablets/laptops just for internet access. You can then apply throttling to this network so that it doesn’t impact the bandwidth for everyone else.

You might have read these points and thought that you’re not quite there yet. You’ve found a good balance and everyone is happy. Well done! That is a good place to be in. But be mindful if your environment should grow. Another 10 laptops over here, another server over here. While you may not want to enforce anything immediately, it’s good to plan and that is something we can help you with.

If you’re looking for consultancy services to help design your own IT business processes, contact Starboard IT to find out what we can do for you.

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