Matt Lombard To be honest my support group was my VAR, big bottle of ibuprofen and this forum! After all, that is a big chuck of maintenance dollars- might as well use them.
I feel that SW has come a long way in Administration tools. As you mention, SW became more popular with SMB's and starting working its way into the larger companies. Those larger companies and the SMB's, to a point, expected professional level tools to help manage the product.
To be honest, the best tool SW could provide is an actual installation process that works! Without having to reinstall the MS C++ redistribution software every time or to have a utility that actually Uninstalls and cleans itself up! Or to downgrade my OS because SW can't keep up with Windows 10. I say this because every time I had to do a MS upgrade or hardware upgrade or heck even software upgrade something would much up the system and cause another program on the machine to fail. I've even taken a machine down to a new OS and still have SW fail to install..granted its been a few years now..but situations like that don't fly in bigger companies.
Administrative images. The ability to define each individual feature of the SOLIDWORKS suite of products that should be installed on a per machine basis is invaluable. Create a group of machines that only gets EPDM Contributor. Make another group of machines that only gets SOLIDWORKS with no Simulation or Visualize, and so on:
I read each Admin guide (and What's New guide) cover to cover for every new release. I may not retain it all, but if someone has a question, I might remember seeing something about it in the guides and can go there for details.
The Admin Portal has never been much use to me. The data collection is spotty and when I look at it right now, there are four machines (out of 17) listed twice for no good reason.
Best practices are highly subjective as can be seen in posts such as:
and your own: modeling methods
I've found that users will adapt to a new process as long as the new process is an improvement on the old process from their viewpoint. For example, if you tell a SOLIDWORKS user they need to enter 100 custom properties for each model so that the sales guys can leverage cloud based data mining to create new curated synergies with key stakeholders, you will likely get 100 custom properties in each model that say f*** off.