Posted by Skyler Haupt on January 8, 2020
This article is part of an ongoing series on Device Lifecycle Management Best Practices. Read our first article, the overview, here.
At a new job, have you ever tried to access an integral piece of software or been denied building access due to not having your credentials registered into the various systems? We’ve all been there, but these onboarding failures waste time and resources.
Similarly, not setting up and capturing all the attributes of a product’s capabilities, what users are assigned, how it is connected, and what software is installed will create significant, costly, and ongoing future problems. A complete onboarding process and system is the first and essential step in managing a connected device’s lifecycle.
Some organizations call this part of the connected product lifecycle “Fleet Management”. Regardless of what you call it, knowing what devices you have deployed with what configurations at what customer locations is absolutely essential. Otherwise it’s a support nightmare and you will never get good product diagnostics to help you plan for the future. For example can you easily answer these questions:
Organizations typically don’t focus on the processes and systems for onboarding users and devices until there is a problem. While a bad practice, it is understandable because organizations focus their limited bandwidth on innovation and strategic issues, not internal, non-revenue producing areas. You can’t cost effectively and properly diagnose and repair a smart product if you don’t understand its baseline network configuration, or what version of OS or firmware is running on a device. Not knowing all the attributes of a product’s configuration and what software is actually managing its operation will create costly, and ongoing downstream problems. You can proactively address and eliminate these problems with proper onboarding practices.
There can be dozens of users in the Connected Product Value Chain whose roles and access to the device, networks, software and other systems are critical. Managing these individuals, and their permissions is essential to managing the device-customer relationship and the implicit contract that exists between them.
Solving big problems - or preventing them - doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Being methodical and throughout this lifecycle stage will not only prevent costly future pain but also delight customers and expand the revenue that flows from them.
1. Capture key details of the devices that you are shipping to customers or otherwise deploying in the field:
2. If devices are already deployed and you don’t have the foundational product information, make best efforts to capture and document as much information as possible to establish a new baseline. The information may be contained in:
3. Consider a system that integrates fleet management with software and configuration management:
4. Prioritize a system for proper user permissions management:
5. Integrate, Integrate, Integrate
By implementing these best practices, you will systematically minimize pain points from the very beginning of your connected devices’ lifecycle.