This year, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of companies who have switched to SmartDeploy as a Microsoft SCCM alternative. Each company has their own story and is experiencing their own unique challenges relating to SCCM. However, there are three common themes we’re seeing across those companies who are making the software switch. Read along to learn what we’ve observed that makes SmartDeploy the best SCCM alternative, and check out this video in our “The Hot Seat” series for the extended conversation between Spencer and Jeff.
1. Number of Computers
We’re learning that companies managing fewer than 1,500 computers are likely going to have trouble using SCCM. From what we hear, from smaller businesses at the lower end of the enterprise, they don’t have enough resources to make efficient use of SCCM and/or the need for such a broad solution.
When departments are small, they often don’t have a ton of standardization. IT can’t treat all their users the same with a reliable and repeatable process. Particularly when IT is stretched thin, they take care of everything. The department needs to be agile and use tools that can accomplish a variety of tasks quickly and easily without a ton of training and ramp up. Switching to a simpler solution, with more features and functionality right out of the box, is key so that IT can be maximize their productivity with their resources.
Another factor is that many smaller customers don’t have the rights with Microsoft to receive SCCM licenses or special pricing as part of their agreements. In many cases customers use SCCM because they have it. The case to management to buy a different tool when the organization already has one isn’t usually what management wants to hear. But if customers don’t have the right licensing agreements with Microsoft, getting one is often costly and involves extensive conversations with multiple stakeholders. This impacts IT’s day-to-day tasks and ability to execute on strategic business objectives.
2. IT Team Size
SCCM is an extensive suite that takes a lot of manpower to properly setup, manage, support, and make the most of. So, the question to ask yourself is, does the IT team have both the resources and the requirements to head down the SCCM path?
- Does the organization need everything that SCCM does?
- Do you have the staff to research, engineer, configure, test, and support SCCM?
- Do you have a plan if the team members trained on SCCM are unavailable or no longer on the team?
- What is the backup plan?
If your team isn’t large enough to have a discrete owner, or owners, for these tasks, it’s likely that SCCM will become a burden rather than an asset. If your company has at least 8-15, or more, IT members and is willing to dedicate 1-3 of them exclusively to SCCM (depending on your company size), then the likelihood of success with SCCM is much higher.
Because companies need dedicated staff to learn, setup, use, and maintain SCCM, you also need to have a plan for technician turnover. Since every SCCM configuration differs, there will be ramp up time for any new SCCM admin, even if they have extensive experience in a previous role. Relying on a solution that’s functionality is employee dependent can be risky because without an SCCM trained employee, the software loses its value. A rule of thumb when choosing software is to evaluate people’s time and how valuable that time is in terms of business productivity. If your IT team is large enough and can manage the software, business needs, and train incoming employees, then SCCM could work for you. However, if your IT department is spread thin, it’s a good time to explore a SCCM alternative.
3. SCCM Functionality
As Spencer put it, “SCCM is a mile long and an inch thick.” Meaning it can do a plethora of IT management tasks but it’s up to you to decide and figure out how your team will use it, often with little support from Microsoft.
- Inventory – asset tracking
- Cloud-Attached Management
- Real-Time Management
- Application Management
- OS Deployment
- Software Updates
- Company Resource Access
- Compliance Settings
- Endpoint Protection
- On-Premises Mobile Device Management
- Power Management
- Remote Control
- Software Metering
If this seems to reach beyond what your company needs, we recommend searching for a SCCM alternative to avoid overpaying and overcomplicating the core PC lifecycle management tasks that are truly important to your team.
For example, if you needed to pick up a potted plant from your local hardware store, you could do that with an 18-wheeler. But you wouldn’t want to. You don’t need to train for your commercial driver’s license, practice backing and parking a semi, pay for that big, heavy-duty equipment, etc… Clearly a typical sedan would be more than enough to pick up a potted plant. It feels like that to me with SCCM. Don’t overcomplicate things if you don’t need to.
To tie this back to IT solutions, it’s important to evaluate the strategic tasks that the company needs addressed and then choose a software based on how it will assist you to achieve the desired outcome. The extensive capabilities of SCCM being divvied up amongst a small team could gobble up their time leaving them unavailable to contribute in other areas. IT departments also won’t be able to move through projects as quickly due to the complexity of SCCM. This can push timelines back, which may not be an option if the IT department is working on a tight deadline.
Another factor to note is SCCM’s support structure. Most SCCM admins rely on forums, blog posts, and search results to get help on their own. In contrast, sometimes it’s better to invest in software that performs all the capabilities you currently need right out of the box.
SCCM is a solid solution and if your business has over 1,500 employees, the IT team is larger than 8 people, and your company requires the majority of the software’s features, SCCM might be the right way to go. However, if this isn’t the enterprise structure you’re working with, looking at a Microsoft SCCM alternative could help increase IT productivity, reduce user frustration, and better support your company into the future.
See also SCCM cost: Is it worth it?