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The Hidden Costs of Allowing Workers to Bring Their Own Devices

Bring-your-own-devices policies should clearly state who can use personal devices for work, what devices they may use, what carriers they may use, and who is responsible for overages if they occur.

April 6, 2012

Increased productivity and employee satisfaction are obvious benefits of Bring your own device, or BYOD, policies. But enterprise leaders have to understand the price tag of such policies, and educate users about what they can and cannot do to make sure hidden costs don't drive IT budgets out of control.

"If you've got a high-power user running the same data on his laptop, iPhone and iPad, that is a lot of money for data plans that can't be spent on device inventory," says Bzur Haun, CEO of Visage Mobile, a mobility management software company based in San Francisco. The added cost of network cards, carrier services, increased data plans, overages, and user licenses all take a piece of the information technology budget away from core technology investments.

It can also add human resources costs. Haun says that most employees use their devices without thinking about data plans or overage fees, then when the bill shows up they are surprised when the finance department refuses to cover it. "This causes the employee to turn to HR for help, who in turn asks IT for guidance, and suddenly six people are sitting in a room for an hour talking about who's going to pay for what," he says. "It's not just expensive; it's a waste of time."

To avoid such scenarios and unexpected fees, any BYOD policy should clearly state who can use personal devices for work, what devices they may use, what carriers they may use, and who is responsible for overages if they occur. It should also define who owns the device, and who takes possession of it should an employee leave the company or get fired. Do you want your top sales guy to own his work phone number? Haun asks. "This is one of the many questions you need to ask."

Sarah Fister Gale is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.