End user contracts needed to regain control of BYO devices

Contracts between IT departments and end users for BYO devices will provide clarity for rights and responsibilities
  • Tim Lohman (Computerworld)
  • 27 October, 2011 09:40

IT departments should look to BYO device contracts with company employees as the means for balancing the needs and desires of end users with the requirements of the organisation to manage risk and control cost.

For a detailed look at the management challenges of BYO devices see Computerworld Australia’s 2011: Year of the tablet PC

Gartner analyst, Leif-Olof Wallin, said in a breifing paper many BYOD plans assumed, rather than confirmed, IT users were willing to give up some level of control over their personal devices in exchange for access to corporate resources.

“The extent to which users and companies may agree on the compromise will vary,” the paper reads.

“It’s a prudent approach to have the end user sign a contract with the employer to this effect, because that is much more visible to the end user than just accepting a click-through agreement upon entering the BYOD program.”

Wallin said BYOD users needed to understand concepts such as their personal responsibility to back up personal data, that their device could legitimately be wiped by their employer, and the device may be monitored by their employer.

“They must accept that limitations placed on their device could affect user experience, and may include the filtering of business data,” the paper reads.

“They might be required to hand over their device upon request if necessary for e-discovery (subject to local laws; check with your legal department).”

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Wallin also said BYOD contracts formed just one piece of a much broader BYOD plan, which he advised should also include:

  • plan eligibility;
  • device selection;
  • ownership, use, reimbursement, and notification if lost;
  • access to corporate resources and applications;
  • security and privacy obligations for personal and business data; tools.

Wallin said understanding the costs of BYOD was important as the capital expense (capex) of the a BYO device was usually only 20 per cent of its total cost of ownership (TCO). In practical terms, this meant that the initial upfront cost of the device was born by the employee, but the remaining 80 per cent was often born by the business.

Software licensing was also another consideration which needed to be taken into account as often software for consumer BYOD devices have clauses prohibiting its use for work.

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