The following article first appeared in Field Technologies Online, and is re-published here with permission.

At first glance, a BYOD (bring your own device) strategy can sound mighty appealing — rather than the company investing in mobile devices for the workforce, let them use their own. It seems simple, and with so many companies going in that direction, it must be the way to go, right? Not necessarily. There’s a lot more to BYOD than you may think, and here are some important points to consider before you determine whether or not a BYOD strategy is right for you.Develop Clear BYOD Policies And Procedures

Before you think about even talking BYOD within your organization, you need to sit down with executive management and your IT staff to begin working on a clear usage policy. There are many things to consider — how much will you reimburse employees for their device? Will you give them a stipend for their service plan, or will your company cover service plans for employees? What are they allowed to do on the devices during work hours, and what is prohibited? How will you enforce these policies? Without a clear policy in place before you begin going down the BYOD path, you can bet on chaos.

Sort Through The BYOD Logistics

In addition to determining who will hold the service plans, there are other BYOD logistics you need to think through. One way or another, you’ll be working with a variety of service plans and multiple carriers. If you’re holding the service plans, you should regularly review usage against plans to ensure you’re not paying more than you should and plan on discussing bundling with providers to see what kind of discounts you can get. You’ll need to set a monthly allotment for your employees and determine how you’ll monitor usage. If your employees will hold their own service plans, you have to determine what you’ll contribute for their costs and how that amount will be dispersed.

If You’re Thinking BYOD, MDM Is Crucial

With a BYOD strategy, the management of the mobile devices becomes more crucial than ever. How do you ensure employees are remaining productive while on duty? How will you guard against security risks? An MDM (mobile device management) solution will provide you with the ability to set parameters on device usage, to wipe the device of sensitive data if it’s lost or stolen, and to assist your IT staff in handling device failures.

While BYOD may be appealing at first glance, it can also cause a bevy of issues — especially if you aren’t fully prepared. Keep in mind, hardware acquisition cost is just one factor in a mobile deployment. Not having to purchase devices is an upside, but depending on your organization’s goals and needs, navigating the logistics of BYOD may not be worth it. Be sure to do your homework to determine if BYOD is right for you.

More: Mobile Mapping Puts the iPad to Work.

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