A BYOD strategy can save a small business a lot of capital. Allowing employees to use their own devices in the workplace puts troubleshooting costs and warranty management in their hands; it ensures a higher level of competence in operation; and it saves you money on the purchase and maintenance of hardware. However, there's a right way and a wrong way to initiate this strategy.
Before you dive in, consider the following risks:
1. Convincing Your Staff
New hires have little choice but to accept your policies, but you may encounter resistance from long-time staff members. Before you move ahead with a BYOD strategy, get your full team's buy-in. Choose a few representatives of the staff and ask them for feedback. Consider offering incentives, like a more flexible work-from-home policy. After all, if they're using their own devices, the idea of using them from the comfort of home may be appealing.
2. Overloading Your IT Department
Unless you implement your BYOD strategy with a clear plan on how certain issues with mobile devices are going to be handled, your computer staff may be faced with more problems than they can keep up with. Consider defining in specific terms which troubleshooting issues your own IT department is going to handle and which are the responsibility of each employee. If you keep your IT staff's responsibilities limited to networking and data syncing issues, you can save them a lot of time dealing with hardware issues.
3. Security Concerns
What do you do with a device when your employee leaves the company? How do you deal with the sensitive information stored on it? You may ordinarily sequester a mobile phone or computer, copy its data, and wipe its hard drive, but you can't do that if the device doesn't belong to you. It's essential to understand these issues before implementing a BYOD strategy. Consider consulting an information security expert to draw up a policy that clearly answers these serious questions.
4. Not Having a Detailed Policy
Your BYOD policy doesn't start and stop with security concerns. There are a host of issues to consider. What devices does your company accept? What operating systems are compatible with your servers? Are rooted or jail-broken devices acceptable? Are you going to use cloud storage or provide employees with a VPN? Make sure you clarify all these issues before moving forward.
Remember your company's bottom line. If your policy calls for you to provide hardware to your employees, you can incur significant costs. Make sure you understand who is responsible for insurance, warranties, and repair and replacement costs. If you require your staff to shoulder these expenses, you may experience push-back. Strike a balance with your staff so that everyone feels they get some benefit from your new program and it should be a success.
What's your opinion on BYOD and small business?
David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers, where he frequently writes about small business, entrepreneurship, and technology.