MobileMind Best Practice Series

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What are the best practices for creating groups in AirWatch?

AirWatch uses 2 different types of groups:

Organization Groups - these are the 'Big Picture' groupings of users and are usually static

Smart Groups - these are the more granular groups and can be more fluid

This post covers MobileMind's best practice recommendations for leveraging AirWatch to determine the overall architecture of the console and to determine the groups of users to achieve device functionality.

Organization Groups

Organization Groups provide the overall structure of the console. Every school has nuances, but this section provides an organization structure that will work for most schools. The console is set up with a parent group at the top of the organization and then child groups under the parent. Those child groups can have child groups which will create an organized 'tree' that describes the district and devices being used.

District (Parent Group)

  1. School Name
  • Teachers/ Admin
  • Students
  • Shared Devices
  1. School Name
  • Teachers/Admin
  • Students
  • Shared Devices

This pattern should be repeated for each school. If it makes sense to group all Elementary schools, Middle schools, and High schools; that works as well but is not necessary.


Best Practice states that each school should have it's own set of profiles, app catalog, whitelists/ blacklists, and compliance policies so it makes sense for each school to have it's own child group under the parent district group. The set up may take a bit of time on the front end, but it will be worth it in the day to day management of the console.

Smart Groups

Every action taken on devices has to be published using Smart Groups. Smart Groups need to be created within each Organization Group.

Smart Groups are used to group users and/or devices together that need to have the same action taken on devices. Smart Groups can be created by grade level, teacher class roster, or school; and users can be placed in multiple smarts groups.

All Smart Groups can be established at the school level and any combination of smart groups can be used to push profiles, policies, and apps to groups of users/devices. This function is what makes AirWatch such a powerful and efficient tool. A console admin can push an app to several different grade levels or classrooms at the same time using Smart Groups without having to repeat processes.

Organization Groups provide the structure of the console and Smart Groups provide the functionality.

Naming Conventions

For both Organization and Smart Groups, it is important to use a consistent naming convention to make transitions from year to year simple.

For example, all schools should either use initials or full school name for Organization Groups. The console administrator should choose one or the other when creating the console architecture.

Smart Groups should use names that describe the contents of the Smart Group. That makes it easy to determine which Smart Group needs to be selected to publish to.

The bottom line

Organization Groups are the blueprint of a successful implementation. It is important to ensure the foundation of your console supports a structure that matches the active directory and district design. Smart Groups are the vehicle to deliver a successful implementation. They drive the functions of each device and are integral to the management of large numbers of devices. MobileMind can use the institutional knowledge gathered from working with many districts to inform a district how to best organize and use the AirWatch console.

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