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Mobile device management 101: Why it matters and how to deploy
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November 29, 2022

Mobile device management 101: Why it matters and how to deploy

What is mobile device management (MDM)?

To build a strong security and compliance foundation, organizations need to be able to view, manage, and secure devices, such as laptops and desktops. If you’re new to security and compliance, you may be wondering how to tackle this problem—especially at scale. 

With effective mobile device management (MDM) software, your company can manage and secure employee devices used to access company systems and applications. 

Why deploy MDM?

MDM software helps enforce strong security practices and hygiene by defining unified settings that can be applied across your fleet. This centralized software ensures all devices are continuously staying in compliance.

In short, MDM helps your organization stay secure while also proving security to auditors. Specific benefits of using an MDM include:

Strong security practices 

  • Configure settings like full-disk encryption and screen locks
  • Prevent unwanted or risky software from being installed 
  • Patch management to push out trusted applications and security updates
  • Remotely enforce and roll out endpoint security/antivirus solutions 
  • Remotely lock devices if and when needed (e.g. lost or stolen device, termination)

Streamlined employee experience

  • Zero-touch deployment to streamline onboarding experience for employees 
  • Allow employees to download the right apps and programs from trusted sources
  • Eliminate the need to manually configure computer settings to meet security policies

Operations

  • Allow IT teams to troubleshoot, identify, and resolve issues with remote access
  • Save money by easily reusing and redeploying devices when needed

Finally, MDM software reduces the likelihood of policy violations that could have a negative effect on your compliance posture when an audit occurs.

When should I think about MDM?

There are MDM options available at all stages of your company’s growth. Smaller companies without a specialized IT team can use MDM to make tasks such as onboarding and offboarding more efficient. The cost typically scales with the number of managed devices, so it’s reasonable to start early.

As you grow, you’ll typically hit a point where MDM goes from “nice to have” to “must have.” This is generally the point where you have trouble managing your fleet of devices and you’re onboarding new employees on a regular cadence. A general best practice is to choose an MDM solution by the time your company reaches ~75 company devices.

Vanta customers often use our Vanta Agent to monitor the security and compliance posture of their devices. This is a great solution early on, especially when you want a clear way to prove to auditors that you have appropriate controls in place without having employees take screenshots of their settings panels. 

As you grow, you’ll find that there’s a difference between having this visibility and having a full-featured management solution. There are many more benefits to be had from a full MDM solution, which can monitor and configure the endpoint controls on your behalf—and Vanta supports major MDM providers such as Jamf, Kandji, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Jumpcloud, and more.

How to evaluate and deploy MDM

If you’re going through the procurement process for an MDM solution, it’s helpful to first think through what types of devices you’ll need to manage. It also helps to consider your requirements and resourcing—for instance, whether your team will need to engage external professional services. Your timeline and budget may also inform this decision as well as the urgency and typical length of time to deploy an MDM solution.

Based on Vanta’s own experience with deploying an MDM solution, we believe it’s easier to make the switch when you have fewer employees. This is because switching to an MDM requires manual effort and commitment (as an MDM rollout is typically user-initiated). It also requires technical expertise from an internal team member or professional service. 

As with many projects, don’t forget to think through your timeline—allow additional time for deployment if possible. Also keep in mind that long lead times can happen if you leverage external professional services because you may have to work on their timeline for deployment.

To pave a path for deployment, it’s crucial to provide clear, upfront communications with users and managers. This helps set expectations for what’s happening, why it’s important for the company, what user actions are required, how much time is required, and when to expect changes. 

You can encourage smooth internal deployment by:

  • Structuring a phased rollout and identify early adopters to help with testing
  • Obtaining leadership buy-in early on, and give managers a heads up that you’ll be asking for time from their teams
  • Creating a step-by-step guide for users with clear documentation 
  • Announcing MDM updates at company meetings
  • Holding office hours for users to ask questions

Lastly, remember that MDM is a solution that requires continuous management beyond deployment including dedicated resourcing when needed. 

Want to learn more about how MDM fits into a strong security and compliance program?

Book a demo to learn more. 

We’ve helped over 4,000 customers automate compliance and strengthen their security posture, and we’re here to help you!

Written by
Rob Picard

Security Lead

Jess Chang

Senior Technical Program Manager, Security & Enterprise Engineering

Janiece Caldwell

Senior Operations IT Engineer

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