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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.

Eligible employees automatically get the reimbursement quarterly. To process those payments, Tegtmeyer collects the data from the internal system that workers use to apply for BYOD reimbursement and runs a report against the company's human resources database to make sure that the employees are still active. If they are, the reimbursement gets approved and processed without employees filing any paperwork.

"It takes me a half hour [each] quarter to run this report and put it in a clean format to send to payroll," he says. The payments go out to around 1,400 people.

He figures his cell-phone spend has dropped from $140,000 a month to $80,000 by adopting BYOD. That includes the reimbursements, some monthly service bills — around 200 workers are still on corporate-owned phones — as well as his time processing the reimbursements. Brunswick's one employee who used to manage corporate-issued devices has been reassigned to other work, resulting in additional savings.

Brunswick doesn't have much additional overhead around BYOD. It uses AirWatch to control the corporate-owned devices. Otherwise, it relies on security built into Lotus Notes Traveler to secure email used by BYOD workers. The company may bring BYOD devices under AirWatch or another management platform in the future, Tegtmeyer says.

Since most business-incurred expenses relate to managing corporate-issued devices, like running a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, costs associated with a mobile device management (MDM) product like AirWatch are really a wash when comparing the cost of BYOD vs. a corporate managed program, DataHive's Park says.

Centrally managed BYOD

Intel has taken a totally different route compared to Brunswick and the state of Delaware. "We try to do as much as possible [by] not using expense reports because it's a hassle and expensive," says Lisa Spelman, IT director of client services at Intel. It's expensive, she adds, in terms of time spent by people who have to process the reports as well as those who have to file them. "When we look at one of our central functions as IT, we believe it's to drive Intel productivity to maximize output, so if we put in place policies that guarantee every month you need to do an expense report or track something, it never felt like the right thing to do," she explains.

Instead, when employees become part of the BYOD plan, they're moved onto a corporate-funded plan with their mobile provider, and the bill is taken care of by Intel. Managers get a monthly statement that they can use to keep an eye on expenses by employee.

"We're trying to drive fiscal responsibility with as minimum overhead as possible," Spelman says.

Another benefit to this approach is that Intel can still negotiate corporate discounts with operators. Many businesses saw monthly service bills go up when switching to BYOD because they were reimbursing for all (or nearly all) of their employees' bills, which were more expensive because they were no longer on a corporate-negotiated plan.


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