Apple Business Manager IT Support

This article will be discussing the setup and common IT problems from using Apple Business Manager. For an introduction to Apple Business Manager, click here.

ABM Serial Numbers & Setup

For any other devices you already own, I’d suggest that you don’t waste time trying to get an ACN from them. You can use the tools to add your other devices to ABM.

The new corporation for ABM you just setup for now likely only supports app purchasing.  Your ABM account does not likely have any devices contained within unless:

  • you used AC2 to add those devices
  • you add an Apple vendor’s CAN (Apple Customer Number)  that you are doing by business with.

I suspect that you need to add a vendor before you will see any device data unless you already have a direct purchase relationship with Apple. The key here is the vendor must also be in ABM/ASM.  Those devices will not be in your ABM account if you bought a device from a 3rd party or an Apple Store you didn’t first set up an account with.

ABM will contain all the serial numbers of Apple devices in your fleet.   Add manually if the serial numbers don’t come from a vendor.  Serials from a vendor are considered permanently in your ABM inventory until you remove the device from ABM. When manually adding devices, these are only permanent in ABM 30 days after being added to ABM.

Apple Customer Number (ACN) is vendor specific

An ACN is created by Apple for each reseller/EDU/enterprise customer but not all ACNs can be used in ABM.  For an ACN from a reseller to work correctly in your ABM, that reseller would also need to be in the Apple Business Manager program.  Apple has tools to allow you to manually add devices to ABM if you buy from a reseller that is not in the program.

 The Apple Customer Number is the account number (or numbers) assigned to your organization by Apple, used to purchase Apple hardware or software. It is required in order to verify your organization’s eligibility for certain programs. contact your purchasing agent, finance department or Apple account team if you do not know the numbers. This number is not the same as your GSX account number.

Make your life simple, pick a vendor or three, get their ACN number, give them yours and have fun managing Macs.

Note: Individual users in your org do not get or likely don’t have an ACN that is of any interest to you.

You only want vendor ACNs from vendors you will buy from.  They will know what you need if the vendor is an actual Apple vendor.  They may ask you for your ACN, which is listed in your ABM account (bottom left in settings).

Manually Adding Devices into ABM using AC2

The Apple Store is the tricky one.  You will be manually adding the devices to ABM using AC2 (one-time) if you bought a device last month and still haven’t set up an account for regular purchases that land automatically in your ABM.

ACN and the Apple Store Business Team

ABM will work in two ways until you have the ACNs collected. First, you will try and get the ACNs from vendors that are ABM approved and add those to your ABM account. You must first setup a relationship with the Apple Business team if you are buying from an Apple Store.  They will create you an account to purchase through (and a new ACN) that is connected to your ABM.

You need to have their 5 ACNs in your ABM vendor customer section if you have 100 devices from 5 different vendors.  You will likely be manually adding those one-off purchases to your ABM account if you are walking in to any Apple Store or vendor and buying device and you want to manage in ABM.   ABM is a trust based program and willy-nilly purchases require extra touch.

Setup a meeting with Apple Store Business Team if you plan to buy there.  Vendors all have their own unique Apple Customer Number.   Apple runs a tight ship, it’s a well-designed system. Only vendors have ACNs you want, no end user has an ACN that is useful or important to you.

Device Wipe Disclaimer

Yes, I mean wipe. On Macs there is a slightly different requirement for resetting if it is T2 and part of ABM already. On iOS devices, a full wipe is needed. You have to understand that Apple needs to be able test the installation of an OS to ensure it hasn’t been f’d with or changed before it allows the device to activate. Apple also tests hardware to ensure that nothing has been changed. AC2 and AC4IP maintain a chain of custody, so that an IT department can sleep at night knowing that

Having a plan for when a device is stolen or someone decides they will be cute and wipe a device is important. Right now, as ABM and Device Enrollment is concerned, the device will simply setup as it did before if you reset a device that is in ABM and assigned to your MDM. Wiping the device doesn’t prevent the device from re-enrolling into MDM, it will do that automatically, each and every time, until you unassign the device serial from MDM using ABM

Add Legacy Devices

Adding those previously purchased device to your ABM account without a vendor ACN if you have already bought hardware from an Apple Store or any reseller that is not part of ABM requires you use Apple Configurator 2 (for iOS devices) and Apple Configurator for iPhone (for T2 or newer Macs). Once you have manually added devices, those devices are permanently added after 30 days to your ABM account. The devices can be enrolled immediately but the enrollment profile is removable for the first 30 days. You will use one of those two apps to be the trusted connection between the hardware and Apple, so the device information can get added into the ABM account and then transmitted securely to your MDM. Those apps will reset a device to get it to activate.

Image Source: https://www.mbsdirect.com/featured-products/apple-for-business

Establishing Vendor(s)

The Apple Business Manager and Apple Customer Number connection is very simple.  Add their ACN into your ABM once to setup the connection if you are buying devices for your org from a vendor that participates in ABM/ASM (formerly DEP).   All future orders are made directly through that vendor’s site and they will have the order information transmitted to your ABM account when they invoiced ship to you.  This occurs after you have the vendor accounts connected.

Same if you order from an Apple Enterprise Account Exec that supports your industry (if there is one).  You need to ensure you have had a conversation with their Business team so that orders end up in ABM account. For any other devices you already own, I’d suggest that you don’t waste time trying to get an ACN from them. You can use the tools to add your other devices to ABM

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