Mobile operating system (OS) updates are a fact of life. Every time they happen, employees want to start using the latest software immediately, while IT wants to put on the brakes and proceed with caution. Here’s how to handle an update to ensure the best experience for everyone.
Major updates can be tough for IT because so many factors are beyond their control: the timing of the release, the new features it contains, how it will work with your company’s mobile infrastructure, and whether or not users will upgrade. Even so, you should assume that employees are going to use the new OS out of the gate—there’s no way to prevent this or even monitor when and if it happens.
As with many facts of life, you can expect excitement and heartache. With iOS 9, for example, users are enthusiastic about new productivity features, and employers are interested in the new features for streamlined deployment and enterprise security. But as with any major update, no matter how well-prepared you are, you can expect 20 to 25 percent of iOS 9 users to run into trouble, possibly due to compatibility issues, an incorrect response to installation prompts, and so on.
The keys to handling an update are preparation and communication. As soon as you know a major update is coming, start getting ready—and keep employees in the loop.
Ensure proper backup of enterprise apps and data on mobile devices
Prepare for the worst and make sure:
- Employees have instructions or other support for performing a backup.
- If you have an automatic backup solution in place, double-check to make sure your data and resources will be fully covered before the release.
Assemble a pilot test team
These staff will collect basic information to help prevent or address common end-user issues, including:
- Which devices and OS versions are compatible with the update. Make sure your team has the right selection of devices and OS versions for testing, and that they’re available on the release date.
- The proper way to download and install the update, such as the correct response to on-screen prompts during installation. Users who attempt to download and install an update without enough open device memory or remaining battery charge may encounter problems, so plan to document the problems that arise (screen shots are helpful), along with their solutions.
- Any issues the team encounters with corporate network compatibility, incomplete downloads, an altered user experience from new OS features, etc. Have the team record their experiences and reproducible issues and assign someone to compile and edit this information.
It’s easier to address your business needs when you have insight into which apps and devices employees already use, as well as what they use them for.
If you don’t have the internal resources to cover this step or the rest outlined below, a mobility services partner can provide deployment and device management or on-demand mobile workforce support.
Assign a support and compatibility team
This group may include the pilot test team members, and their job is to prepare your helpdesk for increased support tickets stemming from the update. Provide this team with:
- Background information on compatible devices and OS versions.
- Best practices, including whether to download from the corporate network or at home, how much battery charge is required, screen shots of the download, update progress with guidance on how to respond to installation prompts, and information on how and when to contact the helpdesk if users run in to problems.
- Additional resources, if you determined that enough end users will be affected that your current team won’t be able to handle the call volume.
- An open channel of communication with mobile security and network availability experts to test and prepare for possible issues.
Create and deliver employee communications
Your employees are enthusiastic and tech-savvy, so chances are they’ll be aware of an update as soon as you are—and they’ll be itching to try the new version. Create an editorial calendar with communications planned for before, during, and after the update release. Notify every employee:
- Before the release, to educate them on the productivity, usability, and security reasons why they should wait until your IT team has tested and prepared for the new OS. If they know that problems with the update could leave their devices temporarily unusable—and that if they wait, they’ll get advice, support, and the chance to play with the new features with zero to little downtime—chances are their patience will increase.
- On the release date, to remind them to hold off on updating until testing is complete, and that they will receive instructions soon with update instructions and support.
- A few days after release, to restate the previous information, update them on internal preparation, and provide contact information for submitting questions and concerns. Repeat this step every few days as needed to let users know you haven’t forgotten about them.
- When your team has completed testing and your helpdesk is ready to handle support requests, give employees the go-ahead, and provide them instructions based on learnings from the support and pilot teams. Consider staggering the go-ahead date by a day or two for each division if your helpdesk may be overburdened and you need to spread out the impact.
After the release, check in with your support team to see if any new issues have cropped up, and pass along advice to help prevent other users from running into the same problem.
Know your blind spots
Stay alert for updates and prepare for them in advance to ensure the smoothest possible experience. If you save your learnings from one update, this can help you prepare for the next one even faster. Or you may find that you’re better off handing this responsibility to your mobility services partner, so you’ll have more time to spend with the updated Siri and other cool features.
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