Software updates are a necessary evil in all organizations. Deploying them painlessly is every IT operations pro’s dream, and the CTGlobal Update Frontend Tool gets you very close

“Working on updates. 9%. Please do not turn off your computer.” Getting that message when you are about to go into a meeting or leaving to pick up the kids, is intensely annoying. In fact, it’s in the top five of messages that frustrate PC users in the workplace – others include “Please change your password” and “Windows stopped working” …

IT pros everywhere know this very well. Unfortunately, software updates are a necessary evil, and as essential to software, as water is to taking a bath. 

The challenge for the IT department, then, is to ensure the updates happen as painlessly as possible for users throughout the organization – “users” being a highly diverse group of individuals, with as many different requirements and behavioral patterns: For some, updating in the office at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday is perfect. For others, updating at home at 9 p.m. on a Sunday is much better, and less intrusive. The problem with that is, some updates can only happen in the office, because some software is only accessible on premises.

User-centricity calls for resource-demanding measures

One organization that has to plan every update and upgrade very carefully to accommodate its users, is the Danish Parliament, Denmark’s governing body and the hub of the country’s democracy. 

The users here are the country’s government, the top politicians and their administrative organization, and parliamentary employees. 

It is imperative that no Member of Parliament should experience any degree of disruption when changes are made to the IT set-up: 

“We are an incredibly user-centric organization. We may only have 1,200 users to look after, but in this house, everything is ‘mission critical’, and IT has to run smoothly and silently in the background. No exceptions. Consequently, our standard software update procedure is to manually install the updates to the devices of the 179 politicians and key staff. It’s a cumbersome way to deploy updates, but necessary,” says Thomas Hjortevang, System Programmer at the Danish Parliament.

It’s hearing numerous stories similar to this — stories relaying the pain of deploying updates and upgrades in customers’ infrastructures — that has prompted CTGlobal to develop a tool to help IT departments manage and plan updates: The Update Frontend tool, which comes bundled with Insight Analytics, CTGlobal’s data analysis and visualization tool.

The Danish Parliament has been among the first to test the latest version of the tool, and the impact on Thomas Hjortevang’s workday is significant:

“It’s amazing. Simple as that. With the upgrade tool it’s a brand-new world – we don’t need to force or lead people by the hand; we can simply nudge. When we tested the new update process on our users there were no glitches – we have not had any users reaching out in frustration, experiencing negative effects from the update. So, for the first time ever, I have not been worried at all about rolling out updates to the organization. I have never experienced that before”, says Thomas Hjortevang about the effects of the Update Frontend Tool.

Photos by Anders Hviid

Customization creates trust and goodwill

“Put simply, what the Update Frontend tool does, is give the power to the users, and enable the IT department to successfully deploy updates much more quickly, and more effectively: The Update Frontend tool prompts users when updates are required, and rather than forcing the update through straight away, or on shut down or restart, allows the user to delay the update to a specified time in the future. This means that the user can postpone the update to a more convenient time,” explains Ronnie Krarup Jakobsen, Managing Consultant at CTGlobal, and developer of the Update Frontend Tool. 

It is also possible for the organization to customize the design and language in the update notifications. 

By adding the corporate logo, and incorporating explanations for why the update is required, in language that is in a tone of voice and at a technical level suited to the users, the users feel less annoyed and more confident about accepting an update: 

It is no longer some remote tech giant spamming them with irrelevant prompts that may or may not be truly necessary, but rather it’s that nice guy Peter from Internal IT, asking them politely to do something, explaining that the update is in fact essential to improve their own user experience, specifically, or the organization’s security, generally. 

“One feature of the Update Frontend tool that has had a huge effect — other than not having to force anything through, or do it one machine at a time — is the ability to customize the text. It may sound like a minor detail, but it’s huge: Compared to most organizations, in this house we have an inordinate number of communications professionals, representing a lot of different user groups. They all have, and expect, influence on how to communicate to their people, and there are big differences in what they want. The enormous flexibility we have with the update tool means that we have been able to customize the language to meet their expectations to a very high degree,” says Thomas Hjortevang.

Foltetinget - The Danish Parliament Photo: Anders Hviid

Photo by Henrik Sørensen

Vastly improved security

So the users are happy, the communications staffs are happy and there is one more major pay-off: security. Security is vastly improved throughout the organization: In recent years Thomas Hjortevang and his colleagues have seen an increased understanding of the necessity for rolling out security updates, and an awareness for why IT sometimes need to insist on taking action for security reasons. But it has been a challenge to translate that understanding into “user action”, and actually getting the users to install the updates.

“Now, we insist nicely, and simply nudge people to do it, when it’s a good time for them. This means that a security update these days only takes an average of just one month – before, it frequently took 5-6 months. It’s a huge improvement. I almost can’t describe the difference. Our security is vastly improved,“ says Thomas Hjortevang. 

The Danish Parliament uses CTGlobal for a number of projects, primarily within client management:

“We have had an excellent working relationship for years. I know I can rely on them to get things done quickly and efficiently. Their in-depth insight into what’s happening in the world, technologically, and their ability to think outside the box and meet our specific needs, is unique,” says Thomas Hjortevang.

About the Update Frontend Tool

CTGlobal’s Update Frontend tool prompts users when updates are required, and rather than forcing the update through straight away, or on shut down or restart, allows the user to delay the update to a specified time in the future. This means that the user can postpone the update to a more convenient time. The Update Frontend tool, comes bundled with Insight Analytics, CTGlobal’s data analysis and visualization tool.

About Insight Analytics

Insight Analytics™ is a window – a customizable dashboard – into the state of your IT infrastructure.

Insight Analytics™ is an add-on to your existing client management system – Microsoft SCCM and Intune Graph.  Insight Analytics™ is essentially a plug-and-play data generating, data gathering, data analysis tool and a visualization platform. All data processing takes place on servers and locations you trust and control.

About the Danish Parliament:
The Danish Parliament was established in 1849. It meets in Christiansborg Palace, on the islet of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen. The Parliament passes all laws, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government. It is also responsible for adopting the state’s budgets and approving the state’s accounts.  The Folketing consists of 179 representatives.  The Danish Parliament is a workplace for 1,200 politicians and administrative employees. 

About CTGlobal
CTGlobal is an IT consultancy and development company focused on cloud, data center, security and enterprise client management. The corporate HQ is based in Denmark with offices in Nordics, Baltics and North America. CTGlobal is Microsoft Gold Partner in Windows and Devices; Cloud Platform; Cloud Productivity; and Datacenter, and our experts speak and teach at leading international seminars and conferences.