Episode VII: The Report Awakens
Hi! I'm Kevin and I'm an IT Support Technician at PTA Plastics; a small employee-owned manufacturing company of only about 200+ employees that was started way back in 1953. I've been working at our ESOP for over 5 years now wearing many hats, doing anything from replacing graphics cards to coming up with and implementing changes to our infrastructure and IT strategies.
Shortly after having begun my role at PTA I noticed we had an issue with IT Asset Management, monitoring, and we had no real ticketing system. This is expected at most smaller companies since we don't handle the same scale of issues as larger firms. However, there is a cost to this typical way of doing things.
I didn't have access to a device's service history; no record of anyone having worked on it, what frequency certain devices generate service calls, and we were running a free IT Asset Management software that barely got the job done. All of our information on our devices was spread across disparate spreadsheets, often forgetting to update them. I went looking for a solution and I determined Lansweeper to be the most comprehensive solution to our problems.
Making IT Support More LEAN
My original background was in a totally different career and industry. I was a Restaurant Assistant Manager for 6 of the 10 years I was employed at my first job. The owner of that restaurant applied LEAN manufacturing principles to an industry that they weren't commonly employed. If you can make a change to the business that improves the efficiency of your labor, the effort it takes to accomplish this is paid back in no time. I lived by this principle for years. Moving into the manufacturing industry was a logical step and applying these principles into IT has been highly effective.
At first, I was trying to take note of all the systems, update various spreadsheets, but the problem of "Shadow IT" would make accomplishing this comprehensively all but an impossibility. Our current Asset Management system that was free would take forever to generate reports, and the customization of the reports was less than satisfactory. It also kept a bunch of old systems in a way that doesn't inform you that they are deprecated in any way. And the data it gave us was insufficient. It doesn't help much if it tells us that the user's graphics card is "Nvidia" as opposed to "Nvidia Quadro P2000", does it?
We needed solutions to get the job done that we didn't currently have. I went searching for something that did all we needed and more. The reasoning behind the "more" was that we needed to look ahead. What if our company scales rapidly, will this software scale with it? If we need more, does it have extensions/plugins/services that can be added to meet that need?
After comparing all of the options to present it at our meeting as my suggestion, I came down to the best possible option being Lansweeper. The combination of good testimonials in /r/sysadmin and other online forums that IT pros hang around in, all the features we needed, being based in SQL (my boss is a SQL whiz among other things), and being capable of thorough customizations; led me to the conclusion that this was what I wanted us to use.
Our Systems Administrator liked the idea and spun it up under a free business trial and immediately our small 3-man team found great value in Lansweeper. I haven't seen us all agree completely on many things with regards to changing or adding software solutions to our problems, but we were unanimous in how pleased we were with its form, functionality, and the comprehensiveness of its data Lansweeper collected.
Windows 10 Feature Updates Exposure Problem = Solved
At PTA Plastics we come from a prototyping pedigree, and this extends to our IT department. We like to stay ahead of trends. While many were waiting until Windows 7's End of Support, we were deploying Windows 10 1507 (from July 2015!). This is often considered heresy in IT circles, but we are a small company, and we don't want to be late to the party. This comes with some pretty big headaches.
One of those headaches was when I noticed the feature updates were not even being sent to many users' workstations. Some users were still on version 1507 when 1903 was coming out! That means many users weren't getting certain less-critical security patches any longer. So we ran a report that our System Administrator had imported called OS: Not latest Build of Windows 10. We instantly realized the scope of the problem and where to prioritize our manual updates first. This made the whole process much easier to get everyone up to date and secure our workstations. Without Lansweeper, it would have been blind shots in the dark, one after the other.
An Excellent Decision It Was
Our team made an excellent decision going with Lansweeper to replace our previous freeware IT Asset Management software suite. It's far more powerful, comprehensive, fast, and customizable than any offer out there. Additionally, it has the capabilities to scale to whatever our needs may be in the foreseeable future. I have recommended Lansweeper to my fellow IT industry colleagues more than any other tool we use in-house. It's just that good.