Articles

5 Ways to Ensure Maximum Uptime for Field Computers

by Jose Richardson System Admin
For organizations that deploy onsite computers for managing field operations, unexpected downtime can result in disastrous business implications, such as reduced productivity, inefficiency, and customer dissatisfaction. Here are 5 proven ways which can help IT personnel to increase the availability of field systems.

Portable machines have become an integral part of the production and service delivery model of several industries, especially manufacturing, telecommunication, healthcare, construction, and retail. A variety of handheld devices, such as rugged laptops, tablets, and toughbooks, are now being used by mobile workforces to effectively perform their duties in challenging environments. These dynamic systems allow field staff to work in collaboration with each other and the in-house team, thus helping them streamline important field service operations and deliver exceptional customer service.


While these portable devices can provide businesses with higher productivity and efficiency gains, frequent events of system breakdown continue to plague on-field operators. Unplanned device downtime can negatively affect the continuity of on-field processes, and can often lead to slowed production and reduced profitability margins.


How System Downtime Can Impact Field Operations


Field service delivery system across various industries often includes time-sensitive and mission-critical processes and operations. As a result, field employees increasingly depend on portable devices to complete their time-bound workflows. Being accessed by multiple workers within a day, these devices remain vulnerable to unwanted changes, such as altered settings and unauthorized software installations. Over time, these changes interfere with the functionality of the devices, causing them to behave unexpectedly or even crash all of a sudden.


When critical field devices fail, the productivity of field employees might come to a screeching halt. Unplanned downtime can result in work delays as employees lose their access to relevant business data. Moreover, on-site IT support is not readily available as these devices are used at different sites typically far from the nearest office location of the concerned organizations. It is not easy for the IT administrators to run the diagnostics, fix a malfunctioning device, or execute any upgrade on the systems out in the field. They need to visit the site and bring the affected system back to the office to perform the necessary repairs. This whole process of bringing damaged devices to an operable state alone raises the total downtime period to a highly unfeasible level, often resulting in productivity loss or a sharp decline in ROI for businesses.


IT teams managing on-field devices need to have better emergency response strategies and effective system restore software in place to ensure seamless running of field operations and higher employee productivity. Taking preventive approaches to system management and maintenance can aid the IT professionals in enhancing the availability and reliability of field systems that can better serve organizations and workers in the long run.


Top 5 Ways To Maximize Availability of Field Computers


  1. Keeping the Devices Under Close Monitoring

To keep field devices fully operational and ready for use, field IT teams need to inspect the configurational health of the systems from time to time. They should monitor all hardware and software components of the devices to make sure they are functional, along with other critical system elements.


Such periodic device monitoring can help field IT teams to identify performance gaps in those devices and rectify them ahead of time before those can cause system malfunctioning or failure. Besides, such IT practices can also ensure that the systems remain available to the immediate needs of the field workers.


2. Maintaining Proper Security Protocols

While it is widely acknowledged that security policies do play a significant role in optimizing the system performance, its implementation is limited in traditional office environments. Organizations tend to overlook the issue of formalizing security framework for field devices that are increasingly used by utility technicians, field service engineers, construction mechanics, and other on-site workers.


Application of security guidelines for field devices is pivotal as these are used by multiple users in remote locations, which increases the risk of devices being stolen or lost and may also lead to instances of unauthorized access to confidential business data. Hence, organizations deploying such portable devices for prompt service delivery need to develop business-specific security protocols and improvise them with changing business requirements. It is also quite important for the IT teams to ensure that those devices are configured and managed in full compliance with the enforced security policies.


3. Putting Right Backup Strategy In Place


Field computers are accessed by different employees in different locations, which puts the data saved locally at risk. Unexpected device failure might result in absolute loss of valuable data and create disruptions in the production and service delivery chain. While there are multiple IT policies in place to let the field workers store the required data, solely relying on user compliance is not the safest bet for such organizations.


Field IT managers need to first identify the type of files that they want to include in their backup plan and devise the disaster recovery process strategy accordingly. Backups can be scheduled to run automatically in cycles and stored over a scalable cloud platform that aids field employees to access them in real-time without any disruptions. This can aid IT professionals to complete the backup process without affecting the ongoing field operations and ensure business continuity.


4. Prioritizing System Maintenance Tasks


When it comes to conducting field operations, providing employees with well-maintained and up-to-date devices is essential. Manually applying patches or running OS upgrades on time can be challenging for the IT team, considering that these business-critical devices are mostly out in the field and under use.


For effective system maintenance, IT professionals can make use of technological solutions that can aid them to schedule and automate such upgrade and patch deployment activities. This can not only provide the IT department with more time to engage in other value-added activities but will also ensure that the devices always remain updated and field-ready.


5. Considering Restorative Remediation Measures


In the event of an unexpected on-site device downtime, restoring systems quickly back to a functional state is the top-most priority for field IT teams. Having effective technology-backed solutions in place that can expedite the system restore mechanism, can be of immense value in improving the resilience of devices deployed for field operations.


Solutions leveraging restore on reboot can aid IT managers effectively combat recurring system issues, such as performance degradation and configuration drifts, and maintain 100% availability of crucial field devices. Reboot to restore software solutions allow IT professionals to mark and control a baseline configuration specific to the business requirements and on-site processes. On rebooting a system, this technology reverts the targeted devices to that admin-defined baseline. Moreover, all user-induced changes, such as system setting alterations and unauthorized software installations are completely removed, which helps IT admins keep systems in a clean state.


With scheduled backups and periodic device monitoring practices, field IT professionals can effectively identify the early-warning signs of failure in on-site computers and mitigate them proactively. Moreover, faster and effective system restore and maintenance activities can help reduce downtime and extend the lifespan of the system while ensuring that field employees remain productive, efficient, and responsive to customer and operational needs.



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About Jose Richardson Advanced   System Admin

65 connections, 1 recommendations, 157 honor points.
Joined APSense since, October 27th, 2017, From Alabama, United States.

Created on Dec 7th 2018 06:38. Viewed 445 times.

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