I'm not even sure if "robustly" is a word. Anyway.
We have a few hundred Windows 7 workstations on a LAN. We use AD/GPO management pretty heavily, but there are a lot of periodic and/or manual maintenance tasks we need to do that can't be done via GPO/scheduled task. For example, say I want to execute program X (which runs silently, in the background, and doesn't bother the user) on workstation Y, or say I want to execute task A on a workstation group B either on a schedule or on demand. Kicking the users off of their computers to do this (i.e. using RDP) is a no-no, and doesn't work on groups anyway.
What's the best way to do this that is robust enough that, after setup, I could give it to beginner support people (read: people who are phobic of the command line, and get confused with GUI interfaces more complicated than Firefox)? I'm a competent programmer, and, if there is a robust set of tools or framework out there for this type of task, I'd consider hacking something together myself if it didn't take too long. If there's some combination of tools or techniques that others use to make remote-workstation-administration doable by beginners, I have yet to find it.
For those who care about the "why": I'm midlevel IT, and was told to implement a remote management solution that allows arbitrary/scheduled remote execution, with confirmation that programs actually ran remotely, and the ability to view what they returned. "Why?" I asked, "Can't I just use PsExec and the task scheduler on a dispatcher machine?" "No," I was told, "'Joe' the second-week tech is going to be in charge of this one, and he needs something simple with a GUI."
What I've tried:
I've played with making a bunch of one-clickable "transfer files to remote computer and run them with PsExec" batch/VB scrips, but those tend to break down and don't easily support running on customizable groups. I've played a little bit with the Windows version of Puppet, but it doesn't support arbitrary-time remote execution (it's ability to group computers into a tree/node structure is really nice though). I've used an older version of Altiris, and, while it does a lot of what I want, it's interface is awful, it's slow, crashes a lot, and is probably too expensive for management. SwiftWater's DMS solution does some of what I want, but it's very underdeveloped, closed-source (not a deal breaker but not ideal), and I get the impression that support and reliability are lacking.