Here in part 4 I'll talk about our initial test phase and staff rollout.
One of our big unknowns surrounded staff wanting to switch from Windows to Mac ... many having never touched a mac prior. What kind of intial training would they require? How long would it take the average user to be proficient on a mac? Could we find other mac savvy staff that would be 1st level support for newbies so IT wasn't flooded with basic questions?
I personally had tried switching to mac only a few years prior and ended up back on a Dell, but I knew I had to dive back into it 100% so mid Feb 2010 I ordered our 1st 13" Air for myself and got a 15" macbookpro for Justin (he was using a dog old 1st gen intel macbookpro). You learn a lot when you're forced to give up familiarity :-)
Our beta test group comprised of Tim Stevens (Exec Pastor, Windows power user, no mac experience), Kem Meyer (my boss and Comm Director, Windows power user, no mac experience), Jami Ruth (Comm Coordinator and long time mac user at her prior job and at home). They all got their new macs right at the end of March giving them time to play over Spring Break (1st week of April). Part of being in the test group was required feedback to the entire group about questions, fun findings, frustrations, etc. Our Tech Director at the time was also invited to join the feedback loop since he was a very savvy OSX user. As questions and frustrations surfaced, Justin and I would make notes into a make shift FAQ list. By the end of June we felt we had address all the main issues and our newbie mac users were doing great! Time to start the rollout to the rest of the staff!
Recall from Part 1, that for 3 years prior we had ZERO computer purchases or upgrades because the economy tanked. This meant EVERYONE was running on old hardware and would LOVE to get something new. Problem was I had a limited budget. This meant only about 1/3 of our staff would get upgraded in 2011 and it was my task to figure out who that would be (gulp!).
I looked at many many variables, had lots of discussions, and ultimately ended up with a list that I shared with my boss and our Exec Pastor to get approval. Next step was discussing upgrades with dept heads to get their input based on possible staffing role changes, needs, etc. Then finally, we got to "surprise" selected staff with their upgrade news :-) I was not surprised when everyone on the list chose a mac vs PC even after explaining there's a learning curve jumping platforms and some limitations with Outlook 2011 for Mac. Of course some of them were already mac users, or had macs at home...and if so they were tagged as being part of our go-to team for the other Mac newbies around them. Also recall from Part1 that we required anyone switching to mac to get supervisor signoff that they could do their job on a mac with mac software. Publisher was the biggest hurdle a few switches had to workaround. Most of them just ended up using Pages.
Finally, in August 2011 we made a large purchase of mostly 13" Airs and thus began GCC's transition to 'chose your platform' and mobility.
Naturally, before we got to August, Justin and I had been pondering how we were going to deploy and manage all these new macs. We talked to other Church IT peers, researched enterprise and academic solutions, and looked at what had and had not been done over the years with the 30ish macs already on the GCC network that were not under the IT umbrella. In Dec 2010 we dropped from a 3 man IT shop down to 2 and knew we'd remain at 2 for a long time to come. What we couldn't afford to do was create a headache for ourselves OR our end users. We decided on the KISS (keep-it-stupid-simple) approach. We would NOT join the macs to Active Directory, instead they would be what I'd call "free range" devices...which is what the macs already on our network had been for years.
To "manage" our macs we landed on using LogMeIn Central ($300/yr) with the free LogMeIn client and Apple's Remote Desktop ($79). LogMeInCentral with the free LMI client turned out to be such a big win that we started putting the free client on every machine ... and today it's part of our software build for both Mac and PC. LMI Central creates a special client installer package for your org so install is super quick and easy. If you're not using LMI Central with the free client you really should check it out...especially if you are multisite. Apple's Remote Desktop app is a sweet solution
In Part 5 I'll list out how we config our macs for end users along with software we include. I plan to then wrap everything up in Part 6 sharing what we've learned and changes we've made since rolling out this transition in 2011.