There’s no denying it: BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is reaching virtually every industry and sector under the sun these days — field service included.  And as we’ve said many times: The use of mobile devices in the field is revolutionizing the business, streamlining everything from parts and inventory management to logistics and scheduling. So as field service goes mobile, managers need to get with the program — or else.

Service managers ignore mobility trends and BYOD at their own peril:  Employees are bringing their own devices on the job whether you offer a program or not.  So It’s important for companies to address BYOD head on. But what should that look like? And where do you start?

Field service companies must first accept the change, then adopt a clear and appropriate policy around it. This policy should address who pays for what, how data should be shared and stored, who has ownership of what and general security issues. More important, companies need to imagine how mobile devices and apps can simply help service techs do their jobs better, faster, and smarter.

Here are some strategies to consider when adopting BYOD in your organization:

Give Your Service Techs the Right Apps

Just because your employees are using their personal devices in the field doesn’t mean they should be left in the dark to search for appropriate work-related applications. In fact, it’s important to inform your fleet about which applications they need so that they can do their jobs. In some cases, it may even help to create your own in-house app or app store.

For example, Cleveland-based company Safegaurd Properties launched an application geared towards its BYOD employees in the field. The company, which inspects and maintains foreclosed-on homes across the country, employs more than 8,000 freelance field workers. Its application, INSPI2, was specifically developed for workers’ personal mobile devices. The app creates driving routes for workers, allows them to auto-fill forms based on pre-existing data, uploads pictures to a company database and helps with data reconciliation.

“Most of the users love it,” Bill Cook, senior IT manager at Safegaurd, told Forbes. Cook loves it, too. Since its impimentation, Safegard has seen a direct correlation between the application and the accuracy of work in reports. “Even a 5% increase in accuracy can translate to significant speed and cost savings on back-end processing,” Cook said.

Set a Security Policy

Security should be a top concern for any company making the transition to BYOD. According to a Business Wire survey, 47% of BYOD employees lack passwords on their personal devices even though they have access to company files. In addition, 51% of BYOD companies don’t have remote access to wipe devices in the event of a security breach.

“The BYOD trend is not slowing down, and while it has many benefits, it’s also introducing a number of new security risks that may be foreign to many companies,” said Rick Dakin, CEO and chief security strategist at Coalfire told Business Wire. “Companies must do much more to protect their critical infrastructure as employees work from their own mobile devices.”

Implement Mobile Device Management

With so many workers in the field, BYOD makes it much harder to oversee each employee’s activity at a given time — each phone may use a different carrier or subscribe to a different data plan. Mobile Device Management (MDM) provides oversight and allows administrators to set parameters, collect data, wipe devices, and assist with device failures. MDM can be implemented through different software solutions or appropriate applications depending on your company’s need.

“Think of each device as a gateway to enterprise resources to boost individual productivity, communications, and collaboration,” writes Dan Miller of analysis group Opus Research. “Recognize that you’ll be asking Mobile Device Management (MDM) resources to do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of keeping applications up-to-date, secure and compatible.”

ABOUT Maeghan Ouimet

Maeghan joined Original9 with over 5 years of media experience — reporting and writing on business, culture and technology trends for Rolling Stone Australia, Boston Magazine, and Inc. Magazine. She is a self-admitted start-up geek and semi-avid Bikram yoga practitioner.