It’s Monday morning and one of your user walks into your office panicked. Her laptop screen is dead and your support team won’t fix it. Another user comes in with a dead smartphone and the response is the same. Finally the CFO calls from home and her printer is kaput and yet no one from the IT team will help. Time to fire your IT firm?
Not quite. The devices in this scenario are owned by the users themselves. Because these devices were not issued by your company and you have nothing in your BYOD policy about this, your support team is taking a very conservative approach. In many service industries there is a phrase called “last hands.”
In IT, we often note that the last support person to touch a computer is the one who gets blamed if something goes wrong (regardless of the actual problem). As a rule, this makes us very hesitant to engage with equipment that we are not formally responsible for. In some instances, we will handle this on a case by case basis. For users we know well and trust, we may try some basic fixes, but then refer them to others for more major service. But for riskier users, we will defer to the client policy.
This ad hoc approach is often fine for work forces that use mostly company issued equipment. But what about when your staff does most of their work on personal devices? The answer is to write something into your tech policy to address this BYOD issue or to create a BYOD policy to begin with.
In some cases this is also a financial matter. Unless otherwise arranged, your IT pros will typically work only on your company’s infrastructure. Working on a personal machine can easily spiral out of control. Supporting personal machines can also be very time consuming because the systems are not standardized. Because of this, many companies spend more money on tech support after moving to an entirely BYOD network.
A few things to consider as you tweak your BYOD policy:
1. Decide how important BYOD is to your company and how much time techs can dedicate to supporting these devices (this could vary based on the importance of the user).
2. Decide what devices your team can support: Smart phones, laptops, desktops, networking equipment.
3. If BYOD is a major part of your IT solution, consider imposing restrictions and minimum capabilities for users:
a. machines must meet a certain requirements to be supported by your company’s tech team
b. your company might choose to support only one kind of smart phone
c. Users must have more current versions of important software.
4. Consider cloud based services for BYOD users. This makes their work less dependent upon the specific software installed on their machines.
In many of my recommendations you see the theme of standardization. The closer each device is in capabilities and software, the easier it will be for your team to support the devices. A good BYOD policy will allow your users some flexibility in the tool they use, but it needn’t be a free-for-all. And while controlling the service time for these devices is the topic of this post, the above considerations are also an important part of the security discussion as well. An un-patched and obsolete machine will require more time to work on and be far less secure; perhaps unacceptably so.
Have you considered supporting personal devices in your tech support agreement? Do you have a BYOD policy?
For additional information, check out our webinar on BYOD policies for nonprofits: