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Enterprise Windows 7 Readiness: Black Clouds & Silver Linings

How to reach Windows 7 readiness for your enterprise

If you are like me, you’ll have recently been swamped by technology companies telling you how their software will effectively transform your desktop for you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were actually the case? “Save 6 months here, 3 months there” they tell you – believe the hype, and you would only need a few days to execute your migration to Windows 7 and desktop/application virtualisation! At Juriba, we’re not sure it is as simple as all that!

Windows 7 and Juriba

But the Windows XP clock is ticking down at an alarming rate (886 days as I write, 600 or so working days) and large enterprises are desperately seeking a silver bullet to their current Windows 7 readiness complexity problem. Be careful, it is this desperation that often drives a bad purchasing decision, platform decision or solution. The reality is that if you’re not a significant way into your planning, you most probably won’t make it to completion before April 2014 anyway. Sorry, but that’s just how it is. One large 100,000+ migration we are working on is already planning 2016 as the end date. There are black clouds gathering in the desktop space.

But wait, it’s not all bad news. There is some technology that will genuinely save you time and money on your upcoming desktop transformation as you bid for Windows 7 readiness. Further, you are probably in a better position than you realise because you already have a vast amount of critical project information.

Your enterprise has many more baseline tools available to it than you had in previous desktop transformations. Standard user authentication and entitlement management, hardware and software inventory, packaged applications and better HR information all exist in abundance. Lisa Hammond at Centrix asks “Wouldn’t you be better to cobble together a solution based on these repositories”? Of course, the answer is ‘No’, or she wouldn’t be selling any software. But don’t underestimate what you already have – you may well be close to 70-80%. Believe me, even with the most expensive tools, you’ll never get to 100% information or accuracy.

But you have a budget for desktop transformation, and transform you will. You want to take this opportunity to achieve great things for your organisation and you have some money to do it. Not many companies we’ve spoken to in the past three years are considering a simpler PC forklift from XP to Windows 7.

So you have some decent information repositories, yet this does not seem to be helping either you or the majority of enterprises to kick start your move to Windows 7 readiness. Why?

The root cause may be that history is repeating. Think back to your last XP or Vista migration. In both cases we all believed that desktop transformation was about technology. Standard builds, infrastructure, application packaging standards, delivery mechanisms and the like. Did technology help get things moving? Of course. But globally, we still stalled on the deployments. The technology could only get us so far.

In 2011 we're looking at technology again to solve the desktop transformation issues. We’re investigating and buying point solutions for discovery, inventory, profiling, compatibility analysis, visualisation and deployment. Will they help? Absolutely. Do they solve the problem alone? No. Maybe we need to take a more holistic view of what we’re trying to achieve.

If you look under the covers of any major enterprise level desktop transformation, you will find thousands upon thousands of moving parts. Point solutions can tell us great information; what we have, if it is being used, who owns it, is it compatible and even what platform your users could move to. Does this mean you can migrate your users? No way!

The key to successful desktop transformation is how you are going to manage the moving parts when all of this great information is available to you. How will everyone involved in the programme from project managers and engineers to application readiness and deployment teams manage your deployment in the most efficient way? We may have great technology solutions, but do we have great project process to match?

In the past, a huge portion of your project budget was probably spent on the resource required to deliver it. Therefore, a major factor of desktop transformation success is about people and how you are going to manage them. Without technology you're going nowhere, but once you have the information and technology platforms in a stable and scalable state, now what?

‘Just deploy’ - that's what many technology companies and frighteningly, some journalists and analysts would have you believe. This is a big issue. Our experience is that once the technology has done its thing, there is a considerable reliance on people and process, and what we at Juriba term ‘readiness’. Yet do you spend as much time on the process and how you will manage the moving parts of the program as you do on choosing your technology to help you get there? I suspect not.

We have recently witnessed some extremely successful desktop transformation programmes. They have some common traits. They will have a complete, documented end to end process for each migration path, be it physical or virtual. They will have a dynamic logistics management system so that the thousands of moving parts can be successfully controlled and prioritised. They will have a slim program team working across the workstreams to ensure timely task delivery. They will have control and governance. They will NOT have too many project managers with too many spreadsheets and access databases. If you have a huge project management office (PMO), I'm afraid you may already be there!

Let’s take a step back. Can we take a more pragmatic view on technology tools? Yes - they will do a great job of helping you understand and provide you critical information. But they won't transform your desktop. Only you can achieve that through layering on solid people and process management. We believe that technology can go further. In principle, using centralised tools to help glue the critical information to your people and process should significantly accelerate your Windows 7 readiness.

At Juriba, we’re absolutely committed to helping organisations transform their desktops using the most efficient Windows 7 project management techniques. We firmly believe that point solutions on discovery, application compatibility and if applicable, virtual compatibility are critical to the success of your migration. But, we also firmly believe that you need some project glue to make sense of all this great information when combined with your own business information. Further, you also need a system to intelligently help manage the thousands of moving parts. This is why we created the Dashworks Windows 7 readiness tool for the enterprise. Experience tells us that point solutions are exactly that. What they need is a business context to really help you make fast progression. If you are interested in exploring the concept further, please get in touch with the team at Juriba for a chat about your Windows 7 readiness project optimisation using software as the enabler to huge efficiency gains.

Click here to download the Windows 10 Project Plan Template