The Ultimate Guide to Device Lifecycle Management 

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Employees need modern technology and equipment to do their jobs well, and managing those assets is a full-time job for large companies. Device lifecycle management is the process of tracking costs and managing these physical assets across their lifespan – from procurement to recycling and disposal. Devices can include mobile cell phones, smartphones, scanners, tablets, and more. Device lifecycle management is typically solved with a Managed Mobility Service (MMS) like Tangoe One Mobile

You can learn more about our MMS solution in our guide

Enterprise asset management is already a multibillion-dollar global market, and it’s expected to grow at a 10.5% compound annual rate through 2027. This is because the process helps organizations maximize the value of assets while minimizing the costs of managing them. 

Technology is no longer a luxury or a “nice to have,” especially when it comes to mobile devices — and companies recognize their dependence on them. Learn more about device lifecycle management and how to choose an effective solution that solves your needs. 

What Is Device Lifecycle Management? 

Device lifecycle management is a comprehensive approach to managing your mobile devices, including smartphones, scanners, tablets and IoT devices, from acquisition to disposal. It allows organizations to identify and control their most important assets in a cost-effective, secure and compliant manner. 

At the heart of this approach is recognizing the cyclical lifecycle of devices, the key stages of management and how they must be administered continuously. The journey starts with the initial acquisition, device preparation, and assignment. It ends with reassignment, replacement and/or disposal. Device lifecycle management solutions also monitor and report on asset performance, usage, and associated costs.  

The four stages of the device lifecycle are: 

  • Acquisition: The process of obtaining assets, including research, selection, purchase and delivery. 
  • Deployment: The process of implementing and deploying new assets into an organization’s environment, including physical setup and software and hardware configuration. 
  • Maintenance: The ongoing process of keeping assets up to date and running efficiently, including regular checkups, troubleshooting and repairs. 
  • Retirement and Recycling: The process of decommissioning assets at the end of their useful life, including secure disposal or device recycling. 

What are the Challenges of Device Lifecycle Management? 

Managing the complete lifecycle of mobile and IoT devices comes with a lot of challenges, especially as your company adds people, devices and services across locations. Here are some of the most common challenges of device lifecycle management. 

Procurement: Ordering Devices   

Ordering mobile devices can be a complex, time-sensitive task. Business continuity is at stake, and yet sourcing new devices can be difficult because of supply chain issues. Purchasing devices in bulk can secure discounts and dedicated support, but it also adds complexity in terms of understanding and negotiating the most competitive bulk pricing rates, service rates and contract terms. 

Inventory Management: Cataloging All Devices  

Effective management plans ensure that devices are always up to date, fully utilized, and secured. This process becomes even more important as your company’s fleet grows and it can be increasingly complex as your fleet becomes diversified with a mix of devices, models and operating systems.  

Visibility into device inventory, usage and expenses is essential for effective device lifecycle management. That’s easier said than done, especially if you don’t have the right software to monitor device inventory in real time. Obtaining deep visibility and advanced analytics across the lifecycle can be time-consuming, resource-heavy and expensive. 

Compliance and Security: Protecting Assets and Corporate Data 

Compliance involves ongoing management and monitoring to ensure all devices meet legal and regulatory requirements for data privacy and security. In late 2022, fines from the SEC and CFTC highlighted the importance of compliance in device lifecycle management. After discovering violations related to personal phones used for work-related purposes, sixteen fintech firms were fined more than $1.7 billion. This serves as a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring that devices are properly secured and monitored. 

Updating apps and other software on devices is essential for security and compliance, but it can also be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Businesses need to ensure devices are properly protected with encryption, firewalls, anti-virus and other security features, especially during critical stages of a device’s lifecycle, such as employee onboarding and offboarding. 

Compliance issues can be particularly challenging for companies with a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, as research shows 65% of the devices accessing company information at these businesses are personally owned among other issues related to mobile device management. These issues include many areas, such as data privacy, cybersecurity and environmental regulations around mobile device recycling and disposal. Regular audits and reviews are needed to identify potential issues or gaps that could lead to noncompliance. 

Security and System Updates  

Security remains paramount, and your company will need to enact and enforce policies around proper usage, data privacy, data security and more. It’s important to begin by having an understanding of all devices and vulnerabilities. This includes a comprehensive assessment of all assets, as well as each device’s state, applications, access methodologies and services it uses. This audit can provide insight into network security, usage, shadow IT and other security risks, but it requires extensive visibility into business assets and operations. 

It’s critical for businesses to incorporate device updates and maintenance in strategies to keep devices secure at all times. This includes installing software updates, such as through solutions like Unified Endpoint Management, and offering on-demand support for employees, such as through a live help desk. It’s also vital to provide ongoing monitoring services to examine devices and security threats to enable IT teams to quickly take action regarding threat investigation and mitigation.  

Deployment: Kit and Ship Assets and Devices 

Logistics & Fulfillment need to be managed carefully to ensure devices and their accessories are delivered to the right users on time and with the appropriate software and security configurations in place. This process requires a disciplined approach with clear standards for each device, work group, and operating location, especially for organizations with workers in multiple countries and those more complex compliance requirements. 

Technical Support across All Assets and Device Types

As the fleet of corporate devices become more diverse and complex, the technical knowledge required to support them becomes more specialized. This means that businesses need to have access to technical experts who can provide support for their devices.  

Such support needs to be available when employees need it, including in multiple languages depending on where your business has locations and headcount. This is often an area where enterprises seek third-party support to provide coverage at a reasonable cost. 

Technical support can also include software updates, which can vary greatly across asset types and versions. Some of these updates are automatically installed, while others require manual implementation, which adds complexity for large workforces. 

Reassigning, Decommissioning, and Disposal 

Devices can often be reassigned to users but sometimes they need to be repaired before they can be reassigned. However eventually, all devices reach the end of their lifespan, requiring policies and processes for identifying this stage, decommissioning devices and recycling or disposing of them. Companies need effective asset tracking throughout this phase to ensure the asset is disposed of and the lifecycle is completed. 

Companies often need help to:  

  • Repair or Replace: Make repairs or replace them entirely to eliminate downtime when devices are obsolete or irreparable.  
  • Decommission: Reset enterprise devices and remove confidential corporate data.  
  • Reassign or Recycle: Re-deploy assets or properly dispose of devices through retirement workflows  

Precautions at this stage include securely removing business and personal data from assets. Disposal can take numerous forms, including resale or recycling. Some assets are governed by environmental regulations regarding their disposal, such as those with hazardous materials. Failure to follow these rules can lead to fines and reputational harm. 

Expense Management and Cost Optimization 

Device lifecycle management requires managing invoices, payments, cost validations, reconciliations and allocations of every expense throughout the enterprise. Businesses must reconcile a large volume of invoices from multiple vendors. This process can be time-consuming and prone to errors, especially when it’s not automated. Poor expense management adds costs in the form of extra labor, late payments and downtime. 

The costs associated with procurement, maintenance and repairs, technical support and end of life can quickly add up. Achieving cost optimization requires deep visibility and understanding of all devices, service usage and costs. Businesses need to identify areas where assets can be reused or put into a buy-back program, so costs can be reduced or eliminated without compromising quality or functionality. 

Case Study: Industrial Gas Company Solves Its Mobile and Telecom Management Challenges 

An international industrial gas company faced the challenge of managing a growing number of mobile devices and fixed telecom services, as well as relevant invoices. Tangoe created an accurate inventory of over 10,000 mobile devices for this company. We also implemented our telecom expense management (TEM) solution for fixed telecom services and invoice management, as well as customized help desk support for employees across 21 countries.   

As a result, the firm has a clear understanding of its IT assets and costs, enabling it to effectively manage its global mobile program, reduce spending and improve security.  

Read the full case study here

What are the Benefits of Device Lifecycle Management? 

From procurement to retirement, ‌device lifecycle management helps companies run more smoothly, reduce costs and give employees the tools they need. Here are some key benefits of device lifecycle management. 

Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Managing Assets 

Device lifecycle management improves operational efficiency by streamlining the entire device management process – from procurement to decommissioning. At every stage in the lifespan, companies realize benefits, starting with clear processes for procuring the right assets without overspending.  

Simplified Workflows 

Device lifecycle management solutions bring together the many disparate workflows from each of the key stages of device lifecycles and standardizes them across geographies, business units and asset types. With the right management solution, businesses worry less about procurement, asset setup, repairs or replacements because there are processes in place. Employees require less training and make fewer errors, too.  

Business Continuity 

When companies have clear policies around asset maintenance and repair, security and usage, they reduce unforeseen downtime, and even extend the useful lifespan of many assets, thereby reducing costs. When businesses have reliable, up-to-date devices that meet their needs and requirements their employees are more productive. This can also lead to improved employee satisfaction, as they’re not disrupted or frustrated with device issues or upgrades. 

Improved Visibility to Help Keep Devices in a Known State  

Companies managing large fleets need visibility into where assets are, who they are serving and what they need to stay in a known, compliant state. Device lifecycle management delivers this for the equipment employees are using every day.  

Organizations need asset management software that provides detailed information about each device, including usage, location and cost reporting. These data points drive the decision-making process regarding how to reduce costs and reallocate existing assets more effectively as well as future investments. 

Improved Asset Utilization: Less Waste means More Value 

Having a better understanding of devices, usage and costs helps organizations optimize asset utilization, helping companies get the most value from their fleet of devices. Device lifecycle management solutions can highlight where businesses are underutilizing devices or overspending on unnecessary features or services. 

For example, organizations can analyze usage patterns to identify infrequently used devices. Depending on the situation, they might reallocate or decommission these devices. Similarly, when companies can identify costly assets that aren’t critical to the business and are underused, they can reduce orders or end support, freeing up resources for other initiatives.  

Cost Savings 

One of the greatest benefits of device lifecycle management is the cost savings gained from making the best use of assets already purchased, validating usage and costs to pinpoint spending inefficiencies, and other insights helping companies negotiate more favorable contracts. It also helps in ensuring companies only buy exactly what they need and dispose of devices responsibly. In-stock replacements and warranty management, for example, can also reduce repair and maintenance costs.  

Access to Expert Support 

One of the most important aspects of managing a device fleet is making sure that any issues or problems are quickly addressed and resolved. A comprehensive device lifecycle management provider such as Tangoe provides access to expert support through multiple communication channels. This includes live help desk agents that can engage with employees at any time via phone, email or chat. 

Case Study: Financial Services Mobile Device Management  

A leading financial services institution needed to address cybersecurity risks and regulatory factors. To do this, the company replaced its BYOD policy with a mobile model that required all employees to use a company-provided mobile device with consistent security applications and procedures.  

Tangoe coordinated all logistics and established an ongoing mobile help desk to support employees globally. This move was timely and critical, as ransomware rose 700% in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tangoe’s solution enabled the financial services institution to stay protected and compliant without the hassle of navigating each regulation while also ensuring employee efficiency and productivity. 

The company turned to Tangoe for assistance in procuring 7,000 new devices. Tangoe equipped each device with company-approved applications and accessories. Each device also came with software for unified endpoint management and asset management.  

You can read the full case study here

Why Choose Tangoe for Device Management? 

Businesses need a device lifecycle management solution that maintains an accurate catalog of all devices, brings insight into usage patterns, and offers technical support, repairs, and recycling services. For this, you’ll need an effective Managed Mobility Service (MMS) like Tangoe One Mobile.  

Tangoe’s innovative solutions lead the IT asset and expense management industry with over 65 patents and consistent recognition as a Visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed Mobility Services. Our 20+ year history of success coupled with AI-powered innovation generates this level of success. Learn more about the Tangoe Difference

Our MMS solution administers more than 14 million assets and devices on behalf of our clients. Managing such large groups of devices provides unparalleled insights into the industry and allows us to offer a wider range of cost optimization recommendations and management services to our clients. We leverage this knowledge and experience to elevate our services and maximize the value we deliver. Check out our guide to learn more about device lifecycle management with Tangoe’s MMS solution.  

Want more? Learn how Tangoe built and manages a global BYOD program for a Fortune 50 organization