Is a BYOD Mandate the Right Course For Your Company?
Mandates for change that come from upon high are always tough. So it wasn’t surprising that VMWare caused a few ripples when it mandated that all employees adopt its new bring-your-own-device policy. With 6,000 U.S. employees needing to transition from their company-owned phones and plans to their own in 90 days, it was no small matter, either.
VMWare’s Mark Egan told CIO Magazine the sudden change was a way to save both money and hassle. Further, employees were pushing for the company to loosen its rules on devices in order to boost productivity.
“I was getting what I’ll call ‘feedback’ from my business partners that I wasn’t offering a broad enough list of devices, as well as getting ‘feedback’ from our CFO that I was spending too much,” Egan says. “I’m losing on both sides.”
With that, the mandate was born.
But is a mandate the best path for all companies? Of course not. But here’s a few things to think about when choosing how to get the ball rolling on a BYOD plan.
Cost, surprisingly, isn’t always the first consideration. Of course it’s important, but cost is generally the long-term side of the BYOD equation. Cost comes after the plan is in place and the pain of conversion is over with. In fact, companies will most likely take on extra cost temporarily while switching to BYOD.
A company’s initial concern should be the willingness of their employees to switch without a huge fight, or even a lot of grumbling. Remember, employees are being asked to take on a cost that had been covered for them, and even though they’re most likely getting reimbursed, it’s still a going to be a definite pain point for a lot of people.
Execs should take a long, hard look at their company’s culture — especially how well senior leadership communicates with employees — and make sure they’re going to be able to effectively roll out the plan to employees as well as listen and respond to feedback once it does. If an exec team is going to mandate a new policy, they’d better be willing and able to answer any and every question about it.
Is Time on Your Side?
At first blush, it seems like VMWare was extremely aggressive with its 90-day BYOD rollout. But in truth, it’s the easiest way to do it. If execs are pushing a mandatory change, it should be quick, easy, and painless. Once the process for a big change starts getting mired down in process or details, it’s on the road to the proverbial graveyard.
Mandates require nimble organizations that can push things out the door in a hurry.
Think Through the Details
There are a ton of little things that go in to a BYOD switch and bad planning or poor communication (see above) can cause the process to grind to an unnecessary halt. Smart IT managers will have most covered: What platforms will the company support? Which devices are acceptable in the program? How is the company going to deal with security and the possibility of a data leak or lost devices?
But what about non-IT details?
How is the company going to reimburse employees? What exactly will it pay for? How will it differentiate between the mobile needs of, say, an engineer and a salesperson? How will it adjust if costs start skyrocketing? How is it going to manage expenses if it provides more than a flat stipend?
Taking care of these policy issues — along with dozens of others — will ensure that the wheels don’t fall of the bus before it even gets a chance to board.
Hey, Look! You’ve Made a Decision!
Change is never easy, and mandating change is certainly not going to be easy. But if change is necessary, and a company is well equipped to facilitate and support it, making change the official policy might be the way to go. Just be sure all the mechanisms, people, and policies are in place to do it smoothly and effectively.