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How We Overhauled Our Hardware Procurement Process With Zero-Touch Onboarding

Justine Bienkowski

September 1, 2021

3 minute read

Zero-TouchOnboarding

Zero-touch onboarding is a dream for many IT teams. Imagine a world where a new employee gets to unbox their own computer and log into their systems with a single account, which grants access to everything they need instantly. This has become even more critical in an increasingly remote-first world. 

At BetterCloud, we are trying to make that zero-touch dream a reality! Here’s how we’re doing it.

The benefits of zero-touch onboarding

In the time since we began pursuing zero-touch onboarding, we’ve identified three primary benefits:

Before we started on our #ZeroTouch journey, our IT team had a lot of manual steps to go through when onboarding new people. We had a few automations in place, but we still needed to order computers and have them sent to the office. Once they arrived, we installed software, ran updates, then schlepped over to a retail shipping location to send the machine out to the new employee. That took a lot of time!

The impact of (not) procuring and allocating hardware manually

Although none of the tasks I outlined above are difficult, doing each step manually made life harder for the entire IT department in several ways. Here are just a few of them. 

  • Lots of time wasted running updates (about 30-45 minutes per computer)
  • Uncertainty & delays on when new hires could start
  • Doubled cost of shipping
  • Slower new hire starts = slower ramp up = less success
What hardware procurement used to look like before zero-touch onboarding became a reality. In a word… painful. (Courtesy: Dennis Irizarry)

To remedy this, we set off on a mission to improve everyone’s quality of life by enabling a true zero-touch onboarding experience. We tackled the hardware piece from 3 angles: Patching, identity, and fulfillment.

Patching

Automated patching is a key to zero-touch deployments. Depending on the employee to manually install updates is not scalable, and nobody wants to be hounding people for days on end to get it done. Update capability needs to be comprehensive (which is to say, it should cover both the operating system and third party applications). This creates an established cadence that is predictable, and allows our organization to be more compliant and secure. To achieve this we used a tool called Automox, which supports patching on our whole fleet, whether they are Windows-based or Apple.

Identity

Automated identity is important for a few reasons. We want our colleagues to be able to log into their machines seamlessly with their existing corporate credentials. We also want their software and settings to be automatically populated on their machines. For Windows, we use Intune Autopilot and SAML authentication via our identity provider in a 1-2 punch for PC users. On the Apple side, we utilize our JAMF MDM & JAMF Connect, which integrates with Apple’s setup assistant. In both these cases, the local user account is linked to our identity provider, passwords are kept in sync, and accounts are protected by MFA which makes everyone way more secure.

Fulfillment

The final piece of the puzzle includes partnering with our channel partner CDW to drop-ship devices directly to BetterCloud employees. We were wasting a lot of time (and money) shipping computers from the warehouse to IT and then to the individual. Instead, now we buy in bulk, and our distributor holds the inventory at their warehouse. As folks are hired, computers get sent to them, which results in a faster turnaround time for new hires, meaning that our recruiting team can act faster. CDW includes a one-pager in the box to help our colleagues get started, as well as some additional items they’ll need, like a USB-C adapter.

All of these initiatives have created a much better employee experience for our teams, which ultimately makes employees happier and keeps IT from doing unnecessary amounts of manual work. Stay tuned for our next post, where we tackle zero-touch employee account onboarding!

To learn more about how BetterCloud can help you begin your zero-touch onboarding journey, click here to schedule a demo.

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