Does having employees pick their own equipment work better for corporate computers and mobile phones? A Wall Street Journal article published Tuesday detailed the growing popularity of DIY procurement, where corporations allow workers to select IT equipment for their use or gain reimbursement for expenses associated with personal IT gear.

There’s much to be said for a cafeteria plan equipment purchase; it engenders a greater sense of ownership by the employees, so they take greater pains to preserve the equipment. Letting them choose what they like also leads to greater employee satisfaction and, with more home PCs than business PCs in the United States, many employees already have corporate-equivalent infrastructures at home. The Wall Street Journal notes:

IT departments can trim their budgets by as much as 30% with tech-allowance programs, estimates Craig Samuel, a vice president at tech-services firm Unisys Corp. who has consulted for companies introducing the practice. Though it will likely be years before such programs are widespread, research firm Gartner Inc. forecasts that by the end of 2008 10% of companies world-wide will require workers to provide their own laptops.

While a large corporate IT department can negotiate special pricing, retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. achieve unmatched economies of scale. Throw in the cost of setting up a new computer and support and suddenly the price that companies pay for computers is significantly higher than at retail.

Last year, the U.S. Treasury agents’ union proposed they be allowed to use their own gear for telework, and Australia permits tax avoidance on income used by employees to buy IT assets.

Are technology allowances, or DIY purchasing, working within your company? Join the discussion.