The 5 Most Overlooked BYOD Mistakes to Avoid

by Roger Yang is the CEO of Avema Critical Wireless

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are struggling with the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomena. On one hand, BYOD is a boon. Employees get the devices they like. Often they pay for them out of their own pockets, and productivity goes up.

On the other hand, support costs can also go up, bandwidth may become saturated and, if policies aren’t crafted well, employees can end up feeling cheated by their employers. Creating a workable BYOD policy isn’t rocket science, but it is a delicate balancing act. Get it right, and you’ll boost both productivity and employee morale. Get it wrong, and you’ll need to start worrying about both security risks and increasingly disgruntled workers.

There are a few BYOD mistakes that pretty much everyone knows to avoid. You need strong security in place. You need the ability to remotely lock lost device and wipe corporate data, and you must have some sort of device management scheme in place. Google BYOD and you’ll find article after article on how to handle security and management issues.

While it’s imperative that you get mobile security and management right, other seemingly smaller mistakes can be just as damaging.

Here are five overlooked BYOD mistakes to avoid as more and more mobile devices enter your organization:

No. 1: Pushing expenses onto employees – In organizations with poorly articulated BYOD policies, employees may think that their employers are trying to rip them off. I’ve even heard of one company that charged its employees a convenience fee for the right to access corporate resources from their mobile devices. That’s right, it made them pay for the privilege of working while on the go.

In the very early stages of the BYOD trend, perhaps some companies can get away with tactics like this. As BYOD becomes commonplace, however, employees will start to feel cheated:“First pensions disappeared. Then, they made us pay more for health care. Now, they want us to pay for the privilege of being available 24/7?”

Asking employees to pay for access should absolutely be avoided. Even giving employees a one-time payment to subsidize a new mobile device purchase can be enough to engender goodwill. What’s $100 or $200 when you’ll easily get much more than that in increased productivity?

No. 2: Having employees expense mobile costs to get reimbursed – The productivity gains organizations enjoy from increased employee mobility can be quickly undermined by something as simple as expense accounts. At some organizations, myopic managers worry about paying for employees’ personal activities. Thus, they require lengthy expense reports for mobile reimbursements.

This is a terrible idea. The expense of processing those reports will exceed any dollars saved by preventing employees from doing personal things on the company’s dime. Moreover, the time employees spend filling out those reports will offset mobile productivity gains, and employees will get frustrated by added layers of bureaucracy.

No. 3: Forgetting to separate out different user groups – Another reason some organizations have employees fill out expense reports is that different users generate vastly different mobile costs. If you have a blanket policy of giving employees, say, $50 each month, an employee who, for instance, travels to trade shows often and constantly downloads presentations (and big data usage fees) will feel cheated.

Expensing isn’t the answer to different user groups. Separating out those users and having different policies and subsidies for each is a better and more cost-effective method. Even a simple two-tier approach may work well, depending on your workforce.

Any employees who is regularly on the go and spends a lot of mobile time on corporate activities should receive “corporate paid” devices; meaning the entire device and plan is paid for by the organization. Those who don’t spend as much time on corporate activities can then receive a device subsidy and, perhaps, a monthly stipend.

Sometimes, for less mobile employees, simply having corporate discounts available to them (negotiated with carriers) is enough of a plan subsidy to make them happy. Many of these discounts also apply to the handsets and accessories. If an employee’s normal voice and data plan is reduced by 25 or even 40 percent because of a company discount, that person is going to be pretty happy about those lower costs, so long as that person’s phone or tablet isn’t primarily used for work.

No. 4: Being stingy with support – Make no mistake, as more consumer devices enter your network, support requests will go up. A mistake many organizations make is being stingy with support. “It’s not our device,” the logic goes, “so it’s not our problem.”

This is exactly the wrong approach. For end users, their mobile devices are mission critical. Whether they need them to complete any specific job is irrelevant. Until their mobile device is working again, their focus will be on fixing that problem.

Mobile support requests should be considered an opportunity. Not only can your IT staff get the device back to working order, but it can also improve security, double-check that encryption is turned on, and ensure that an antivirus program is running.

No. 5: Failing to make recommendations on devices – If you don’t make recommendations and provide a list of approved devices, mobile support challenges can overwhelm your support staff. While I strongly recommend not being stingy with support, it’s also not practical to cope with an unending array of devices.

Choose a manageable number that still offers workers variety. iPhones will almost certainly be in the mix, as will Androids, but even narrowing Android choices down to a particular handset manufacturer or two will make life much easier on your support staff.

Inevitably, workers will call in for tech support when their mobile device malfunctions. If IT isn’t familiar with the device, they really can’t help. Give your employees choice, but not too much. Choice shouldn’t undermine your ability to support those choices.

Roger Yang is the CEO of Avema Critical Wireless, a provider of mobile management, security and expense management solutions.