Headquarters: Salt Lake City, UT
Delivering award-winning building and design
Okland Construction is a full-service general contractor with a focus on construction management and design-build projects. A privately held, family-owned business, Okland primarily covers the Southwest and Mountain States with three main offices in Tempe, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; and Boise, ID. Over the years, they’ve shored up an impressive portfolio of projects in industries like education, healthcare, municipal services, commercial mixed-use, and technology.
A part of Okland’s IT team since 2019, Neil Sharp is a Tier 2 technician with more than 10 years of professional experience and a job scope that extends beyond his title. Together with his team, he takes care of the company’s IT infrastructure, provides help-desk support, and manages more than 600 user devices across the company.
The challenges of supporting a distributed workforce
Okland’s workforce is split between on-site corporate employees and remote teams who are spread across different project locations. While Okland’s corporate staff are based at their main offices, project teams work at multiple construction sites where internet access can vary — making device management especially challenging.
“Depending on the stage of construction and the site location, network connections can range from fiber optic to cellular. At one job site, the best option we could provide initially was wireless broadband because services and utilities were not yet set up.”
Because of these obstacles, Neil and his team need to make sure that devices are properly imaged and set up with everything that employees need before the machines are even sent out. And the work doesn’t stop there. They must also ensure that devices can easily be patched and updated regularly to meet security and performance requirements.
Dividing & conquering device management
When Neil first joined the team, Okland was already using PDQ Deploy & Inventory and SmartDeploy. To maximize the benefits of using these two tools, Neil worked with the team to clearly define specific use cases and create more efficient workflows.
“I was brought on specifically because I had eight years of experience with SmartDeploy and could help improve existing processes.” He was eventually put in charge of PDQ Deploy & Inventory as well.
“SmartDeploy is how we prepare every new device that comes into the organization.” Using SmartDeploy’s modular file-based software, Neil breaks the imaging process into two parts to give himself more flexibility and control. He creates and captures a golden Windows operating system image before separately deploying the programs that users need as well as scripts to handle postdeployment tasks.
The team also uses PDQ Deploy & Inventory for core tasks across the device lifecycle. “We use PDQ Deploy & Inventory to do specific tasks like uninstalling old software and installing new versions. And to carry out large-scale software updates or deployments that impact all machines across the organization.” These activities occur regularly, often several times a month, with big deployments happening four to five times a year.
Optimizing project and deployment workflows
Neil and his team are currently working on uninstalling Dell Data Protection Encryption (DDPE) from all user devices before moving them to a new security tool. That’s no mean feat. Because of the sheer number of machines, the project has to be done in phases and staggered across multiple months.
“It’s an eight-step process to remove DDPE from our systems, involving things like adding registry keys, running the service, checking that stuff is done, uninstalling the software, and decrypting the drives. PDQ Deploy & Inventory is taking care of that very nicely for us with the packages that I’ve built and by helping us target these machines group by group.”
With SmartDeploy, Neil wanted to help the team optimize how they were using the tool. “When I first came here, I looked at what they had and went, ‘Nope, we’re starting over.’”
He streamlined the imaging process, making it easier to update existing Windows operating system images. Neil also took advantage of SmartDeploy’s modular imaging approach to manage postdeployment tasks like running postscripts and data transfers — without having to rebuild an entire image or deployment package.
“Before, we were spending all day getting a computer ready for a new user. Now, we can be done in about one to two hours with the full deployment. I can literally boot a machine up into SmartDeploy, push the image and walk away, come back in, and everything is done.”
“I’ve seen other imaging tools that are just a pain to use. With how everything works in SmartDeploy, I really don’t want to use anything else to deploy images within a company environment.”
Managing hundreds of devices with greater ease
Today, Neil and two of his colleagues handle PDQ Deploy & Inventory, and everyone on the helpdesk team is trained to use SmartDeploy effectively.
The clear division of ownership and use cases for both tools have made life easier for the whole team. Okland now successfully manages day-to-day machine turnover with SmartDeploy and broader, companywide updates with PDQ Deploy & Inventory. With the full help-desk team utilizing SmartDeploy, they’ve enjoyed huge time savings — a major win for any IT team.
By using these two complementary tools in tandem, they’ve saved a ton of hours and effort while effectively managing hundreds of endpoints across their entire fleet.