Mastering device lifecycle management

There's increasing pressure on Mac admins to do more with less while still getting the right tools into the right hands at their organizations. Keeping on budget and keeping cool is possible with effective device lifecycle management.

March 1 2024 by

Haddayr Copley-Woods

Device lifecycle illustration of circle with arrows between: planning, acquiring, using, maintaining, reselling.

A comprehensive guide for Apple devices

From a shiny new MacBook Air to an old but trusty iPhone that no longer serves your needs, Apple devices at your organization go through a useability lifecycle. As devices reach each stage, they need different management and upkeep. A well-planned approach to your organization's devices can increase ROI while still providing employees with the best tech they need to be productive.

What is device lifecycle management or endpoint management?

It is a fairly simple concept: it's the optimization of device use throughout your business through effective planning at each stage: procurement, provisioning, maintenance and deactivation.

It's how you do it that can get complex.

The most effective is carefully planned, with a standard checklist at each stage that everyone follows and a thorough understanding of your organization's needs. A good device lifecycle management planner stays within budget by getting the best tools possible and knowing when the smart time is to sell aging tech to ensure the best ROI.

It's also how you track, secure and maintain your organization's devices.

Why do I need to think about device lifecycle management?

In our tech-driven world and with increasing demands on devices, your employees need tech that will not get in the way of their productivity. You also need tech with enough bandwidth to keep up with new demands for data analysis, the relatively new need for workers to function on the job from anywhere and enough flexibility to function for one or multiple people.

In addition, your organization has multiple positions with differing tech needs. A sales lead probably needs less processing speed than a designer or coder, and those who travel regularly need lighter devices than those who mainly work from the office or at home.

If you don't have a good system for tracking all of this, you might find yourself going over budget while juggling irate service calls from staff with aging devices that no longer serve their needs.

The five stages of Apple device lifecycle management

Apple devices are unique in that they, unlike other types of devices, often have a high resale value when they end their usefulness to your organization. Because Apple devices are so well-known for reliability, stability and security organizations such as nonprofits or schools with lower budgets and fewer bandwidth requirements.

1. Plan

It's vital that Apple admins not skip this important step. There are so many considerations to address:

  • What is your budget?
  • What does each employee need? A sales manager's CPU requirements will be different from a designer's or coder's.
  • Do you anticipate more staff in the coming five years? For which positions?
  • How can you keep all your Apple devices on your radar?
  • How can you maintain them to ensure the highest resale value that gets the most out of your budget?

2. Procure

With a good plan, you should be thinking about the entire lifecycle of your new devices. Know exactly how you will provision, secure and maintain your organization's new machine before the purchase is even made. The best start is to buy through Apple Business Manager's or Apple School Manager's Apple's Volume Purchasing option. That way, you already have these devices registered under your organization's Managed Apple ID.

Zero-touch deployment with Jamf

If you use Jamf Pro, Jamf School or Jamf Now to manage your devices, you can use your Managed Apple ID and your employee's ID through your identity provider to begin setting up these devices remotely. Based on user identity and role, you can enable whatever additional resources you'd like to include for their initial setup before it has reached them, wherever they are working.

Zero-touch deployment also means that Apple admins can begin provisioning in the cloud before the employee even opens the box.

Smart Groups

Jamf's Smart Groups allow Apple admins to create groups for managed computers, mobile devices, or users. These groups dynamically update based on the group's criteria. This means your system will automatically add and remove users and devices from these groups using data such as job title, up-to-date OS, etc. This saves enormous amounts of time for Apple admins when they begin provisioning.

3. Provision

Apple, due to its increased popularity, must face down malware, phishing and hostile adware that can compromise devices. Even well-meant software that is not properly secured can be a huge problem. Some of the largest breaches in the headlines today originated from a third-party app that was easy to hack.

Ensuring the safety of the software you offer is an important part of provisioning. It's critical to vet the software employees use for work. The two best ways to do this are through the Apple App Store and, for third-party software unavailable at the App Store, the Jamf App Catalog. This is a pre-vetted catalog of third-party macOS software titles that you can use with the Patch Management workflow or App Installers.

After ensuring the software you offer is safe and useful, you can contain costs by only provisioning with the software each job requires. A sales associate will have far less use for Adobe Suite, for instance, than a designer. You can use Smart Groups to assign software to specific job titles, device types or IDs to help streamline this process.

Jamf Self Service

Provisioning devices is not a one-and-done situation. Jobs evolve, new software develops and apps go in and out of favor. If you can automate these requests for software rather than requiring an IT ticket, you'll save your organization IT time as well as money that might otherwise be wasted on licenses that no one is using.

Jamf Self Service allows users to browse and install content on managed mobile devices and computers. Equipping staff to download the software they desire without IT intervention is a double-plus: no IT ticket, and employees can get to work with the new vetted and appropriate app immediately.

4. Maintain

This entails keeping track of every device under your organization's management, making repairs to hardware and software as swiftly as possible and ensuring that devices are free from malware infection.

Jamf Pro with Jamf App Installers, along with Jamf Protect, can help Apple admins to automate:

  • App updates and patches
    App Installers, along with Jamf's zero-day support, can allow Apple admins to keep their fleets up-to-date efficiently.
  • Compliance monitoring
    Jamf's use of Apple's Declarative Device Management means that devices have a set of conditions under which they will immediately take remedial action without waiting for a command from the MDM server. These conditions may be anything, for example: devices not using the most current OS or devices upon which Jamf Protect detects unusual or suspicious activity.
  • Inventory
    Tracking devices sounds overwhelming, but with Jamf's inventory management solutions, you'll have full visibility into your entire fleet. Using Smart Groups can help you track hardware details, software versions and security settings.

5. Decommission

With a 360° view of your fleet's devices, Smart Groups and Jamf's in-depth reporting, identifying aging devices is much easier. Keep up with the sort of pricing you can get from resellers depending on chip, memory, RAM and performance can maximize your ROI. Sell it too early and you'll not get the most out of it. Sell it too late and there might be a smaller market for it.

Once you have identified which devices need refreshing and retrieving them, it's a matter of running Jamf Reset, which will automate cleaning devices for use elsewhere.

Jamf streamlines and automates device lifecycle management.

Learn the details of how to set up Jamf Pro for device lifecycle management in this step-by-step guide.

See how Jamf can help you with device lifecycle management.