Is a BYOD HRMS strategy a bad idea?

Depending on who you talk to, ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) is either a huge step forward in workforce empowerment, a significant cost-saving and efficiency opportunity for employers, or simply an inevitable impact of the ongoing global technology revolution. Or perhaps, all three.

However, for the unwary business, a BYOD HRMS strategy isn’t all sunshine and puppy dogs. In fact, if you want to fully leverage the benefits, you’ll have to address the drawbacks.

What about security?

Data security is the biggest headache associated with BYOD HRMS. After all, your people will be working with your business’s data (and your customers’) on their own personal tablet or smartphone, a device that they’re probably also using to check Facebook, arrange their social lives and play games. A device that they might also be lending to friends and family on a casual basis. What’s more, if an employee loses their device, or has it stolen, you need to be sure that random third parties cannot access your data.

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Your system needs to be smart enough to track exactly what users are doing, where, and with what data. Role-based access control, secure mobile login, and effective backup of data are essential measures.

The need for more tech support

If you buy a batch of smartphones and issue them to your employees, you have control over what they use them for, what antivirus software they use, what apps they are and are not permitted to download - and possibly most significant, you configure those devices to suit the business. But with the blurring of personal property and corporate use, tech support and device control are not so clear cut.

You need some kind of ‘device registration’ in order to know who is using what, and also to check that the device they’re using is compatible and compliant with your wider business systems. Assuming you have an IT department that offers some form of helpdesk support, you’ll also need to be clear up front with employees about what inquiries that department will handle and what issues are up to the individual device owner to solve.

Management and infrastructure

To maintain some control over the BYOD situation, most businesses implement some form of mobile device management (or MDM) solution. This is an application that allows the employer to enforce a number of security measures and best practices, including password strength, malware and virus protection, productivity monitoring, and even the remote deletion of data should the device be lost or stolen. However, MDM applications vary greatly and none offer a comprehensive solution. Do use mobile device management but be wary of over-reliance.

Given that Gartner has predicted that 50% of employers will be operating on a BYOD basis by 2017, the issue of employee-owned technology in the workplace is likely here to stay. The key to successful management is deciding not only, Is BYOD for us? but also, Why is it right for us? and Exactly what do we hope to gain from BYOD? Then implement the necessary technological and policy support.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall