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Updated 29 Sep 2020

Top considerations for your bring your own device (BYOD) policies

When allowing employees to use their own equipment in the workplace, choose different headings for different platforms according to audience tech knowledge. 

Yvonne Dias, 12 December 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Ten years ago, the main function of cell phones was to make calls from anywhere, anyplace and this was a huge leap for all mankind in terms of mobility. ‘Back then’ calls, SMS and MMS ruled the cell phone. Today, however, mobile devices serve as a tool to not only connect, but also educate, inform, transact and evolve.

Welcome to the mobile evolution

Advancements in mobile devices have transformed mobility to a level where a cell phone is no longer just for calls but a powerful tool, which enables us to move freely and easily from our office desks to our cellphone to access and disseminate information in a meeting, on the road, or from the comfort of our homes.

Related: Keep employees engaged

The rise of mobility has, and will continue to, increased remote working and therefore reduced the need for traditional office space. Mobility also extends past smartphones and tablets. The modern computer is moving towards cloud-based applications, not only for more processing power, flexibility and scalability, but also related to added security. 

Furthermore, mobile and cloud devices, and applications allow for cost savings whilst minimising the need for human intervention and errors, as tools and processes are more cost effective. Cloud and big data also allow systems to talk to each other, process massive amounts of data in a short period of time, and easily achieve a holistic view of business processes. 

Access to real-time information has been rendered critical in the information age and allows for instant access to data to enable quick and accurate decision making.

BYOD in the era of mobility

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is an increasing trend, empowered by the mobile evolution, where employees bring their own devices to work, and connect internally and externally to the organisation. 

This can be beneficial to the workforce, when implemented and managed correctly, as employees are able to use devices they are already comfortable with. In addition, the flexibility enabled by BYOD can increase productivity and employee collaboration and reduces pressure on IT departments.

But for every upside there is a downside, and it is important to consider both when it comes to BYOD – a decision that cannot be taken in isolation of one department.  Items such as security and access to system information are massive areas that need to be considered.

While BYOD enables lower capital costs for an organisation, variable costs also need to be considered. Will employees be compensated for voice and data charges? This cost could be higher due to private usage, but it may be difficult to split and manage. And, what about the insurance cost of the device? Does that company compensate the employee for this? As a result, your business could end up paying more in reimbursements when compared to restricting the usage on a business phone. 

Risk management of BYOD 

Risk -management -of -BYOD

The risks associated with BYOD comprise the safeguarding of access-to-data and ensuring that security measures are in place. Data or mobile breach would be a risk to an organisation, short or long term. One has to consider; if a staff member’s device is stolen, what data goes with it?  Can the device be wiped remotely? What risk or exposure does it open for a business?

Other risk areas to consider are versions of devices and the impact on productivity.  As an employee is using his or her own device, it becomes more complicated to monitor the time spent working versus time spent on social media. In addition, how can you force your employee to be on the latest device. Matching device specs to application-minimum requirements could complicate your IT department’s life.

Related: 6 Top tips on how to retain employees and keep them happy

BYOD also affects accounting aspects, such as asset control in terms of support, as the cost to support and manage a wide spectrum of devices could be extensive. A solution to this, however, is mobile device management (MDM), which enforces policies, and monitors usage and access.

Top things to cover in your BYOD policies: 

  1. Stringent security policy:
    1. Enforce PIN and passwords
    2. Access to data
    3. Encryption
    4. Process if device is stolen.
  2. Clear Service policy:
    1. Restrictions of apps
    2. Who is responsible for services?
    3. Wiping of device rules.
  3. IP and performance policy:
    1. Be clear on who owns the IP
    2. No hindrance on performance if a device is down.
  4. Exit policy:
    1. What are the rules for clearing a phone when a staff member leaves?
    2. Transferring of data to the mainframe
    3. Clearing of the device. 

To enable and reap the benefits of BYOD it is critical to understand your mobility needs and have a defined strategy. From there it is important to ensure that the necessary policies and procedures are in place to support and manage it. 

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About the author

Yvonne Dias

Qualified as a chartered accountant, Yvonne heads up the solutions division of Mint Management Technologies – a Microsoft gold partner. She is responsible for driving and managing Mint’s .go organisation, which focuses on developing industry first technologies through partnerships with leading individuals and businesses to ensure IT innovation.

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