Dimensions of a Mobility Management Strategy

What does your Mobility MRI Look Like?

While every mobility management strategy likely has cost containment at its core, the points of emphasis in each strategy can be as diverse as company cultures across the industry.  For some, the wireless device is considered a company perk and comes with few restrictions and might in rare circumstances be extended to family members of an employee.  For others there are strict cost guidelines and even stricter security requirements. This can result in only critical employees receiving company devices with limitations for business use only.  The outcome for some employees is the need to carry around two wireless phones, one for business and one for personal use. Yet other companies have chosen to shift the entire burden of mobility management to employees.  For some that privilege comeMMRI Dimensionss with a stipend and for others it does not.

A solution that fits one company like a glove may be a misfit for another based on culture and mobility emphasis.  While one company may be seeking a Best-in-Class implementation, this may be the last thing another company is looking to deploy. It is because of these differences that MobilSense developed our Mobility MRI Metrics (Management Requirement Identity). In designing a solution for a particular mobility management strategy it is important to understand where a company stands on the ten dimensions of our MRI Metrics.  In the descriptions below we share these ten dimensions by describing the range of positions that might characterize a company’s culture and identity.  There is no universally correct answer across this spectrum of dimensions.  Each dimension represents a range of extremes and allows for a middle ground positions as well.

1) Proactive vs Reactive – This dimension covers the level to which mobility devices are considered to provide strategic advantage to your company or simply to deliver necessary business communications. If they are simply a cost of doing business then companies will typically exhibit a reactive nature to problem solving when it comes to mobility management.

2) Regimented vs Unregimented – Companies will demonstrate a range of behaviors when it comes to corporate assets. One end covers the perspective that employees should be trusted to know how to utilize a corporate asset based on general company guidelines.  On the other end are companies with very specific restrictions and rules regarding usage.

3) Distributed vs Centralized Accounting – A company that pays and budgets the company wireless invoices from a single centralized location will find less of a need for the ability to merge accounting and cost center values with each device.  However, for companies intent on distributing wireless costs down to local cost centers there are additional solution requirements to access workflow efficiencies.

4) Business Requirement vs Employee Benefit – In some company environments a wireless device may be deemed a benefit or perk while for others strict policies may define what level of device is permitted for which employee classifications. In these cases executive level approvals may be needed for certain classes of devices.

5) Security Mandated vs Security Conscious – Every company has to be aware of security concerns when it comes to wireless devices but for some the risk of data compromise comes at such a high cost that additional layers of security and tighter usage policies are appropriate. This can also result in requiring additional security software to manage the corporate data on the device.

6) Funded vs Employee Subsidized – There are typically three stops along this spectrum.  One end comprises companies that don’t ever require an employee to reimburse charges even if incurred through personal use.  On the other end with government and non-profit entities an employee may be expected to pay for the sum total of all personal usage during a given month.  In between you will find companies that only expect employee reimbursement for obvious indiscretions such as downloads, international vacation usage, or high overage expenses.

7) Employee vs Corporate Accountability – When a company-liable wireless device is it the responsibility of the employee to review monthly invoices in order to be aware of the costs they are contributing to the company or is it up to corporate administrators to track down the most costly users each month?

8) Employee vs Corporate Choice – This dimension is all about the level of latitude that a company is inclined to offer to employees.  On one end of the spectrum is the Bring-Your-Own-Device philosophy that let’s employees transfer their personal device into the corporate-liable account which may entail some ongoing employee reimbursement for personal costs.  The other end of the spectrum is characterized by a very limited device selection – BlackBerry’s only for security reasons or support considerations.  In other instances a basic phone model may be the only device permitted for employees requiring mobile communications.

9) Local vs Corporate Oversight – Does your company truly expect local management to oversee all budgetary elements of their departments including wireless expenses? Or is local management not to be bothered with this task?  Is oversight the job of a small group of corporate telecommunications employees? Or is there a sense of shared responsibility across the company for managing and controlling wireless usage and expense?

10) Outsourced vs In-House Personnel – Does your company have sufficient in-house expertise when it comes to wireless management and cost control or do you look for expertise and cost efficiencies from outside sources? Do you have a strategy that favors internal employees versus consultants or contractors?

By using these ten areas, a unique picture of your wireless culture can be assembled and used to develop a mobility strategy that fits the needs exactly.   Look for our tip next week on how these factors can impact your strategy development.

Mobile Device Usage Policies

Are Your Employees Adequately Informed?

Practically every business with corporate liable mobile devices can point to some recent cases of mobile device usage gone bad.  More often than not it isn’t because the employee was irresponsible or devious, but is due simply to unclear company policies or the lack of visibility to usage of their device.  The stories are numerous. How about the user that didn’t understand mobile billing changes at our national border and that downloading movies in another country can quickly run up thousands of dollars in overage charges?  Or the individual that thought a free account for a satellite radio channel also included the data usage needed for the radio to work on their smartphone.  Or how about the new controller of a company that somehow thought because the device was paid for in full by the company that it therefore must have come with unlimited voice, data and text usage plans.   The financial enforcer in an enterprise doesn’t look good at the top of a mobile abusers list.

Setting, monitoring and enforcing standards and policies for any corporate function are difficult and even more challenging PolicyLogoin the mobile arena.  In any discipline, when a user of a service understands the cost implications, it is usually easy to adapt behaviors to fit within acceptable cost guidelines.  With corporate liable devices, the users rarely, if ever, see their costs.  Without a well enumerated policy employees are not likely to understand the impact of a wide variety of usage behaviors.  There are four practical actions that can significantly improve the challenges to this dilemma.

Creating a Mobile Device Policy – There can be a wide range of detail in a mobile device policy and corporate cultures will have a strong influence on the scope of each company’s policy.  An effective approach will include four general components.  First, be clear the employees receiving this business tool understands the reason they have been granted this communication benefit.  Many companies have set criteria that qualify an individual to have a mobile device. This helps emphasize that receiving a mobile device comes with responsibility and that not every employee has the right to use a mobile device.  A clear understanding by the employee that they have been entrusted with an asset that requires some level of discipline from the very start will minimize future misunderstandings.

Second, establish classes of mobile devices (i.e. phones, smartphones, data cards, tablets) with accompanying job criteria indicating which employees are eligible for which device types.  It is no longer sufficient to lump devices together as the gap in cost between low-end flip phones to high-end tablets and smartphones is vast, not only in the initial acquisition charge but in ongoing monthly service fees.  Best practice in this regard is requiring more stringent approval protocols for the tablets, smartphones and even data cards which may entail more management approval stops along the way and/or higher management job titles required for final approval of these more costly device types.

Third, be clear on the boundaries related to device usage.  With the current shift from voice minute-centric billing to data-centric already beginning, having clear guidelines for the business and non-business usage of mobile devices for voice minutes, texting, data and international usage are essential.  Lack of understanding in these areas can create expectation gaps that can be hard to close.  Be sure an expectation is set that there will be monitoring so the employee understands the policy will be reviewed against their usage behavior.

Finally, establish consequences for policy violations. Some leniency may be appropriate for first time offenders but for repeated violators the only way to cause a change of behavior may be through a process of reimbursement for personal usage charges considered beyond policy limits.

Employee Understanding and Acceptance – It is important to have the policy readily available to any mobile device user. It is even more effective to require that an employee indicates they have read and accepted the company policy prior to receiving their initial corporate-liable mobile device.  This acceptance can come via hardcopy signature or a more efficient path would be electronically recorded via a checkbox in an online provisioning workflow process.  An approach requiring employee acceptance is a key aspect of instilling individual responsibility. Because the vast majority of policy violations occur unintentionally your success at broad company compliance will be substantially influenced by the depth of the employee’s understanding of the policy guidelines.

Monitoring Policy Compliance – Without oversight a company policy can be hollow and irrelevant. If you are operating only from a paper bill the process of monitoring will be a significant challenge.  You will be left to randomly sampling users to review from the bills.  A more effective solution would be through automated capabilities of a Mobility Management tool.   A solution such as MobilSentry provides automated alerting to management for usage violations. Regardless of the method, best practice suggests you conduct some level of an annual review of usage with feedback to the employee.  When employees sense an absence of oversight, it can result in a lower level of attention to policy guidelines.

Regularly Reviewing the Policy – What can always be said about mobility is that it does not stay the same.  There is a continuous stream of change that needs to be periodically reviewed against reasonable device use expectations.  An example of a recent change that has had a big impact on some companies is the Hotspot feature on smartphones.  In some companies, this has replaced the need for some individuals who travel frequently to have a second billing device for ready internet access.  Some enterprises have used this cost saving opportunity to rewrite their policies on data card usage.

We have seen companies who have implemented, monitored and enforced well-conceived mobility policy reduce their monthly spend by 2-5%.  This has brought a positive change to their mobility culture and reduced their carrier invoices, in many cases in excess of the cost of a Mobility Management solution.  If you don’t yet have a Mobility Policy, you should make plans today to create one.  The effort will bring clarity, control and cost savings to your mobile device environment.