A BYOD project management primer

Will Kelly offers tips on how to address the operational, policy, and security challenges of managing a successful BYOD initiative.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) brings with it a unique set of project management challenges for organizations making their first move in that direction. The project manager charged with leading a BYOD initiative can manage the technology, policy, security, and other factors that need to come together in order to support employees' personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones accessing corporate resources. Here are tips for managing a BYOD initiative.

Form a project team to create a roadmap

Since BYOD blends employee personal property and enterprise assets, an initial BYOD project team should include representatives from the following:

  • IT group
  • Management
  • Accounting/finance
  • An early adopter user
  • A later adopter user

This mix of representatives can help address some of the early questions about technologies to support, business goals, expense reimbursements/allowances, and potential policy decisions that go into running a successful BYOD initiative.

BYOD initiatives need to start even before drafting an organizational BYOD policy. Your BYOD roadmap should include:

  • Business goals
  • Existing technical, employee, and business policies (which may require revision in light of BYOD)
  • Risk management guidelines
  • Devices and operating systems you plan to support for the BYOD initiative
  • Use cases with a focus on certain departments (e.g., sales and other customer-facing employees)

Develop and continually manage BYOD policy guidelines

Well-documented BYOD policy guidelines spell out the foundations of the initiative and provide rules of the road for such users. You should also consider the ongoing maintenance of your BYOD policy guidelines; this might require technical writing resources and continuing input from the BYOD project team based on business conditions, technological changes, and other mitigating factors.

Include infrastructure in your project plan

The act of choosing a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution might be a new addition to your enterprise. The steps of selecting and implementing the right MDM solution will be a big part of your BYOD project.

Cover data ownership in your project plan

Corporate data on personal mobile devices raises questions about data ownership. Many companies work in competitive industries with proprietary data to protect, and the possibility of layoffs in some industries make it even more critical to define data ownership on BYOD devices early and prominently in your project plan.

Developing data ownership policies may require input from multiple departments, including:

  • Legal
  • Document/data/content owners
  • Information security
  • Management team

Focus on access policies in your project plan

With today's MDM solutions, organizations can secure all or part of their networks from access by devices through the use of security policies. Access policies are typically set by an MDM solution. It's important to plan this out for BYOD users so you can ensure they have access to the appropriate enterprise resources in sensitive back office systems.

Develop or adapt your existing support for BYOD

You need to prepare the help desk to start supporting BYOD users. You might have to factor the following support elements into your overall BYOD planning:

  • Revise existing help desk support policies and processes.
  • Create new help desk support policies and processes to better support BYOD users.
  • Create knowledge base content or self-support solutions that are specific for BYOD users.

Factor in the financial elements early and often

The project may require its own cost/benefit analysis up front, but there are also the basic operating expenses put upon the BYOD user that need to be taken care of either through a stipend or expense reporting. The reimbursements for data usage and call minutes need to be figured out early in the project plan; this is where the accounting/finance representation on the initial BYOD project team is critical.

Track the BYOD initiative closely from launch day

It's important to monitor the success of the BYOD initiative from day one. This monitoring includes:

  • The right mix of reports from your MDM solution and network security
  • Employee feedback
  • Management feedback
  • Customer feedback

The feedback may give you reasons to modify your BYOD policies.

Additional BYOD resources

For more on this topic, check out the ZDNet and TechRepublic special feature BYOD and the Consumerization of IT, the TechRepublic Pro BYOD policy download, and The Executive's Guide to BYOD and the Consumerization of IT.