Seeking iPad Management Best Practices

New Contributor

Hi All,

I've read several threads with similar titles, but none seem to address my concerns directly. The trouble starts with me - I'm a finance guy dabbling in tech because my nonprofit’s IT department does not support Apple products. #sad

I'm in a nonprofit school district managing iPads across six schools. All of our 313 iPads come from Dep and are used in a shared setting, assigned to school buildings, a department (preschool-classroom, elementary-therapist, high school-admin), and rooms – no Apple IDs. Each school has a unique VPP account (separate funding streams, budgets). Apps are requested, then purchased on VPP and distributed within JAMF. Apps are scoped by school, department, room, or individual iPad depending on the application. For example, a $300 communication app will often be issued to a particular iPad and issued to once student to assist with speech and communication.

The problem I'm running into is that I lack a solid process to replace broken iPads – mainly because I lack a solid foundation of iOS and JAMF. Can anybody share their process? What are some of the items I should be aware of while decommissioning the old iPad and deploying the new?

I realize the question of replacing iPads leads to many others, so here’s my current process:

  1. Select appropriate PreStage Enrollment and include new iPad in scope a. PreStage Enrollments i. General 1. Enrollment Site 2. Support phone number 3. Department 4. Supervise Devices (pairing, prevent unenrollment) 5. Make MDM profile mandatory ii. Mobile Device Name – “School Code-Serial Number” iii. User and Location 1. Department (preschool-classroom, elementary-therapist, high school-admin) 2. Building iv. Purchasing Info

  2. Power up iPad, connect it to available WiFi

  3. Configuration Profiles scoped via User – Department will pull down.. a. Restrictions, Web Clips, WiFi Credentials, Set Wallpaper

  4. Once Configuration is complete, I go to Inventory and find the newly enrolled iPad a. Assign Asset Tag number b. Assign Room Number (if known)

  5. iPad heads out to school a. Assign Room Number (if not already known) b. Determine apps

This is where I run into problems. Let’s say I have an iPad with a broken screen, school elects to replace instead of repair. What are best practices and what is the proper order for removing the old iPad?

  1. Clear Restrictions
  2. Update iOS
  3. Wipe Device (after waiting period)
  4. Unmanage Device
  5. Delete from Inventory

My concerns are:
1. Does wiping the device remove the apps in its scope and return them to the respective VPP account to use on another iPad?
2. If I unmanage the device, but do not delete it – does it count against my device count?
3. If I delete the inventory record, is everything gone? I’m mainly concerned about the asset tag – serial number relationship and purchase history. I’d prefer to keep all of the iPads, managed and unmanaged, so that I have my entire inventory (past and current) in one place.

I suspect I could better utilize Smart Groups, currently, I have just 6 Smart Groups - one for each building. The thought of a Smart Group for each classroom seems excessive - are any of you doing that, is it worthwhile?

Thanks in advance.


New Contributor III
  1. Wiping the devices does not free up the apps. You free up ("revoke") apps via the JSS web interface.

  2. If you unmanage a device it no longer counts against your device limit.

  3. If you delete the inventory record then it's gone. As an alternative, you could modify the device name, (e.g., change "Bob's iPAD" to "Bob's iPad-Unmanaged").


Whenever I have a failed device, I usually wipe the device (management commands -> wipe device) which clears all data off the device, cancels all other pending management commands, and marks the device as "unmanaged". I then clear the user assignment of the device (User and Location -> Username), because for my setup, apps are generally scoped to smart groups based on username and/or building.

Valued Contributor II
  1. Wiping the iPad makes it UnManaged, and app licenses are scoped to Managed devices, so Yes the license is freed up when you wipe.