So you’ve been tasked with ensuring that all of the employees in your company who have Android tablets, we’ll assume it’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 for the purposes of this post, are upgraded to the newest version. You probably have a lot of questions. The purpose of this post is to hopefully walk you through the process and try to identify any problem areas before you begin.
The first consideration, as with any project like this one, is cost. You have to determine what your expenses for such an undertaking are going to be before you get started. The good news is that, all things considered, your costs should be fairly low. You already have the hardware so there won’t be an expenses there. The Android software is free so there won’t be any charge to upgrade the hardware. Your biggest consideration is going to be the cost for man hours to not only test the upgrade on a single device prior to deployment but also assist with executing the upgrades when it comes time to do so. There will also be man hours spent troubleshooting any issues that come up after the upgrades are installed.
Next, my suggestion would be to test the upgrade on a single tablet. This will help to ensure that any issues that are immediately noticeable can be identified before upgrading everyone in the company. I know from past experience that there are some cases where applications are not updated to run with the current Android version prior to that upgrade rolling out. You sometimes have to wait for the app developer to issue an update before it will be compatible. That’s fine if we’re talking Bejeweled but if it’s enterprise software that employees use on a regular basis, it’s critical that you make sure that software will run on the new Android version. If it doesn’t, there really isn’t any point in upgrading.
The third thing to consider is data loss. When Android was upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4), I updated my Galaxy S3. There was an issue halfway through the installation process and I lost everything, and I do mean everything, that was stored on my phone. Photos, music, apps, the whole shebang. I was eventually able to recover everything because I thankfully had the foresight to do what I’m about to suggest which is to back up everyone’s tablets. The easiest way to do this would be using a combination of Google’s enterprise management system, G Suite, and my personal favorite “no root required” back up application, Helium. G Suite costs $10 per month but it’s very powerful and you can integrate other devices that are Windows or Apple based without skipping a beat. Helium costs a similar amount but allows you to back up and restore to the cloud. It’s also one of the few non-root back up apps that includes applications in the back up.
Next, you would need to make sure that employees in all offices are included in this update. It doesn’t do you any good to run the update for one group but not another. If you have offices in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Chicago, and Indianapolis, you will need to make sure that there is an IT person in each office prepared to run the update. All updates should be run at roughly the same time and should be done outside of normal operating hours. The IT department for my current company has an annoying habit of running updates and back ups in the middle of the day and it can slow productivity down to a crawl. You don’t want that. Don’t be that IT department.
The fifth consideration is, how are you going to run the update? Samsung has come up with an alternative called SEAP, the Samung Enterprise Alliance Program. Enrolling in SEAP allows you to access to their Enterprise management services including the ability to run over-the-air Android updates on all enrolled devices. Future versions will allow you to schedule the updates as well. More information on SEAP is available at https://seap.samsung.com.
The final consideration before running the update would be to make sure that your existing hardware is going to be compatible with the new Android version. I have personally never encountered this issue after nearly 10 years of Android ownership but I have heard of others having issues with their printer, router, or other hardware not being compatible. Oftentimes this can be fixed with an updated driver but if you find that the hardware isn’t working with your test tablet, you should check into it before moving forward with the update.
With all the above in place, it is now time to schedule the update. You will want to notify employees at least a week in advance of any outages that will prevent them from using their tablets and then remind them at least one more time prior to the upgrade. Coordinate with the staff at the other locations so that the upgrade can be scheduled to be run at the same time, outside of normal operating hours.
After the update has run, you can expect to receive phone calls with questions either about issues with the tablet or about new functionality. Thankfully, while each Android updates brings with it new “bells and whistles”, the core functionality basically stays the same. However, there are going to be questions about new features, particularly with recent updates such as Android N that brought major changes to how Notifications are managed. You may be able to prevent some of these calls by sending an e-mail to everyone explaining some of that new functionality.
Upgrading multiple devices to a new version of Android can sometimes be a frustrating experience but hopefully it can be made easier by following the steps above.