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While bring-your-own-device initiatives remain controversial in some quarters, there’s little doubt that BYOD will ultimately become the dominant vehicle for provisioning mobile devices and services in organizations everywhere.
Users appreciate the freedom of choice that comes with BYOD, as well as the reduced number of devices they need to carry, charge and manage. Properly executed, BYOD can enhance IT staff productivity and minimize IT budgets. One key element of an end-to-end mobility strategy is to establish a mechanism for reimbursing users for expenses associated with purchasing and using mobile devices in part for work purposes. The following tips can help streamline BYOD expense management.
A basic policy will enumerate all relevant issues, including acceptable use, allowed devices and related operating systems. This policy should specify acceptable carrier service plans and terms for expense reimbursement. It’s important to develop a BYOD agreement and to communicate and reinforce the terms to users on a regular basis.
Consider the many possibilities for reimbursing users for the work portion of their devices. For the smartphone or tablet itself, this almost always takes the form of a fixed amount, such as $100 towards the cost of a device. Because carriers heavily subsidize smartphones with a contract and wireless service plan, stipends are popular and simple to administer.
Reimbursement for monthly service charges can be a fixed monthly amount, fixed percentage or even actual charges. There are solutions that can track every call and estimate data usage, but the IT department should audit a sample of users to verify compliance.
Factor in help desk and other support costs when formulating a reimbursement strategy so the savings aren’t negated by operational costs. What’s more, stipulate which voice and data plans are acceptable and verify that users are in compliance.
Most telecom expense management suppliers offer modeling, monitoring and analysis services focused on wireless service plans and charges. Over time, enterprise mobility management solutions will begin to include monitoring and analysis, easing the burden on IT.
Larger enterprises may be able to negotiate custom device and service plans with individual carriers, along with additional management services in some cases. But keep in mind that restricting carrier choice may result in some pushback from users.
To get started, build a model of the proposed solution. Carefully consider adoption rates, the impact of carrier diversity and the ongoing costs of policy monitoring and analysis. Don’t forget to obtain legal advice on the policy before rolling it out. The law in this area is not well established, and the tax impact of reimbursements will vary based on location.