Many of us probably already practice this at our current workplace or know of individuals that do. This phenomenon is known as BYOD (bring your own device) and has many implications for project management, especially IT project management.
BYOD is a recent trend that a lot of companies are witnessing. As the number of smartphones, tablets, and personal devices grow at an extraordinary pace on the market, more and more consumers are bringing these devices into the workplace and utilizing them for various work functions. IT project managers are now tasked with devising plans to combat BYOD as companies debate on whether they should fight or embrace it since BYOD comes with its fair share of benefits and risks.
Organizations that embrace BYOD have the opportunity to see their workforce productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction dramatically increase. If employees are allowed to use their personal devices for work related functions they’ll feel more satisfied about work and more drawn into their work by having the ability to use their own device rather than one owned by the company. Additionally, a particular company can gain momentum in terms of efficiency since its workforce would be more inclined to put in extra work outside the office such as reading and responding to emails. While these all sound like great reasons as to why more companies should embrace BYOD, there are also some challenges that come with it.
The biggest risk of BYOD is security. As companies open up their internal networks for personal devices to connect to they’re exposing themselves to unknown risks carried with these devices. Personal devices that do not have the latest patches or security updates carry a great risk when allowed to connect to a company’s internal network. Also, the integrity of vital corporate information and data would be at stake. How is a company supposed to keep track of all the devices connecting to its network and accessing critical information? How do they implement measures to ensure that this information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands? There are many ways that project management can help address these challenges by helping to lay the foundation for a fully integrated BYOD policy and project plan.
The link below is an article written by Will Kelly in which he outlines some of the important project management steps that should be taken in order to address the BYOD dilemma. The first few steps involve forming the project team and developing a fluid BYOD policy that can be altered throughout the project. Will notes that the policy can be adjusted “based on business conditions, technological changes, and other mitigating factors.”
The next few steps involve selecting a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution and looping in information security and legal departments to outline the data ownership policies in the project plan. One of the final steps, and most challenging, is adapting the help desk to provide support for personal devices. Companies may choose to implement a multitude of solutions as a way to support employees’ personal devices. For example, they could provide loaner devices as a temporary fix when a user experiences an issue. Or the BYOD policy can specifically outline which features or portions of personal devices the help desk will support and which areas will become the device owner’s responsibility. This step is crucial because the help desk will have added responsibility and pressure on them to provide adequate support for personal devices.
So while BYOD comes with its fair share of benefits and risks, with a sound project plan and concrete BYOD policy in place, organizations should have no problem embracing personal devices. In doing so, they’ll potentially be able to enjoy a more satisfied and productive workforce.