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Managing BYOD expenses: How to get it right

Nancy Gohring | Nov. 13, 2014
Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of all employers will require workers to supply their own devices for work; yet there are mixed reports about whether BYOD actually saves businesses money.

Bring your own device (BYOD) has become an accepted practice in business. Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of all employers will require workers to supply their own devices for work. Yet there are mixed reports about whether BYOD actually saves businesses money.

In 2012, the Aberdeen Group found that a company with 1,000 mobile devices spends, on average, an extra $170,000 per year on BYOD compared to the costs of providing corporate-owned phones, mostly due to behind-the-scenes expense-management issues. But then other stories surfaced from the likes of VMware and Intel showing how much they've saved by implementing BYOD programs.

So is BYOD cheaper than issuing corporate-owned phones and tablets, or isn't it? The answer: It depends on how you implement BYOD and how you count and manage expenses and benefits. The good news is that, since the Aberdeen report was released two years ago, businesses have learned more about how to more efficiently manage BYOD. For example, there are lower monthly amounts being reimbursed on average, and there's also more efficiency around processing the reimbursements.

Managing reimbursements

Handling those reimbursements has been perhaps one of the most surprising expenses related to BYOD. Managing reimbursements manually, usually via individual employees submitting expense reports, can cost $15 to $20 per expense report in internal labor, says Hyoun Park, principal consultant for DataHive Consulting. "It's an expense management black hole," he explains. That's primarily because BYOD reimbursements touch many different departments, from accounts payable to finance and IT — and all those hours add up to extra expense.

But some organizations have figured out how to bring down that cost.

Take the State of Delaware. Workers who opt to take advantage of the BYOD plan are eligible for a $40 monthly reimbursement for wireless service. To get the reimbursement, they have to submit their bills through the state's expense form. "We require they don't submit them any more often than quarterly," says Bill Hickox, chief operating officer for the State of Delaware. That's to cut down on the expense the state incurs from processing the reports.

"We have a lot of people who submit all their bills once a year," he says, further reducing costs for the state. Around 600 people are on the BYOD plan.

Brunswick, the marine, fitness and billiards company, has streamlined the reimbursement process for its employees even further. Workers are eligible for either $50 or $25 a month, depending on their job role.

Brunswick built an internal system where individual workers can apply to get the reimbursement, answering questions about their travel and other requirements. IT doesn't make the decision about whether an employee is eligible, though. "We really couldn't police it," says Mike Tegtmeyer, director of enterprise network services at Brunswick. Instead, employees' managers decide.

 

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