Here’s how to deploy IT hardware in America’s most complex city

new york cityIf you think a major IT deployment in New York City is easy, fuggedaboutit.

That was the challenge The Legal Aid Society faced when preparing a new hardware rollout. About every seven years, The Legal Aid Society refreshes its hardware infrastructure, which is about 2,500 devices in 26 offices spread throughout New York City. Because The Legal Aid Society provides free legal assistance to some of the city’s poorest residents, its staff of lawyers, paralegals, and interns (more than 2,000 law professionals) couldn’t be disturbed by long waits for new equipment.

But while the process of deploying new laptops and desktops might sound simpler than many other IT jobs, it wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds. The Legal Aid Society had to carefully adhere to grant funding requirements, as well as manage union rules, building policies, and the logistical problems associated with a large scale IT initiative in New York City.

The Challenges

The Legal Aid Society’s IT needs were pretty simple – it wanted to purchase and deploy 2,100 new devices (later increased to 2,500) with standard text and document editing software, and redeploy about 250 units of existing hardware. The challenge was the organization’s location — the Big Apple.

The Legal Aid Society has offices in every New York City borough, and even in court buildings and on Rikers Island. That’s a problem for any infrastructure upgrade — IT or otherwise — because it requires adhering to a wide variety of city rules, different building requirements, union labor laws, schedules of property managers, loading dock considerations, and street parking rules, just to name a few. The last IT refresh was especially challenging for The Legal Aid Society, and it was looking for stronger project management this time around to ensure the highest levels of organization and efficiency.

But that was easier said than done. The 26 offices range in size from a handful of staff to a few dozen employees, and every building has its own set of conditions and logistical obstacles. Each location was a unique challenge for delivery, requiring micromanagement of logistics at each office and minimizing downtime for the organization’s staff.

The Solutions

SHI was chosen to provide hardware and deployment services for The Legal Aid Society, after an open RFP process. First, SHI set up a centralized showroom of a few hardware setups – Dell, HP, and Lenovo — for The Legal Aid Society employees to test and try, as they had a vote in the final say of what was purchased.

After a hardware vendor was selected – in this case, HP was chosen and laptops and desktops were ordered — SHI procured the 2,500 total devices for The Legal Aid Society. After initial discussions, The Legal Aid Society chose SHI’s experienced project managers to lead the rollout, as they could best structure and streamline it. Working side-by-side with property managers and The Legal Aid Society employees who helped handle some of the logistical considerations, SHI and IT professionals hired through one of SHI’s elite partners installed and set up new devices and software, conducted full data migration, and removed old devices in each office all in about 45 minutes each. SHI carried out the 250 redeployments of existing devices in this same manner, and all hardware was asset tagged to ensure it could be accounted for and tracked in the future. SHI also partnered with Guardian Data Destruction, which was tasked with proper data erasure and destruction of legacy PCs.

One advantage SHI had was its location in New Jersey. Because of the proximity of SHI’s New Jersey warehouse, deployments could occur on short notice and imaging could take place before delivery to minimize disruption at The Legal Aid Society’s offices.

As a nonprofit organization that relies on grant funding, The Legal Aid Society kept meticulous records on how funding was spent, and some of that funding was used for the IT rollout. Together, the two organizations worked closely to ensure budgetary compliance and that purchased equipment matched the details of the funding’s requirements.

The Benefits

After three months and one week of new hardware and software deployments – a tight deadline, especially with 400 additional units to set up — The Legal Aid Society had refreshed all its desktops and laptops. A refresh this large, and in such a complex environment, would have taken much longer if The Legal Aid Society attempted it alone, but bringing an experienced partner onboard cut down that timeframe, and without disturbing the free legal consultations and meetings The Legal Aid Society’s more than 2,000 employees had with thousands of New York City residents.

A deployment strategy and infrastructure plan can be achieved with the help of a third-party provider that is an expert in deployments and migration. Contact your SHI account executive today to learn more about SHI’s professional services.

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