Project management incorporates many tools and techniques to facilitate the opportunity for the success of a project implementation. Projects have inherent risks associated to them and there are multiple methods and techniques to monitor and control those risks. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative allows employees to utilize their own devices such as laptops, smart phones and tablets for work purposes. With this capability implemented there are significant benefits and potential challenges. The benefits must be realized and the challenges need to be mitigated for success of the initiative. The BYOD initiative allows for flexibility and opportunities for the employees to remain connected and utilize their own tools but present complexity and security concerns for the information technology teams.
Within any project there are costs and benefits associated with implementing new opportunities. The project plan includes implementing the “bring your own device” (BYOD) into the organization and fully leverage the use of individual hardware such as smart phones, tablets and laptops to gain access to the organizations information technology infrastructure and perform operational activities on the business’s behalf. The objective of the plan is to successfully leverage the resources of the employees as well as adhere to the security requirements of the organization. There is a significant opportunity to allow individuals to utilize the tools they already own for increased productivity efforts at work. The benefits of the BYOD initiative can be fully realized while the challenges can be mitigated if the proper implementation plan is followed.
There is a transition between when and where work is performed. Increased remote access and smart phones have allowed for continually continuity between work and home. As the trends for increased availability became standardized the employer would issue cellular phones and laptops to provide the tools necessary to stay connected. As consumers purchased these same types of tools for home use there was a duplication of efforts. In most instances the consumer would have tools that were outpacing the work tools in terms of technology and productivity capability. Simplifying the toolkit and allowing the employee to use their tools for work use is an obvious move (Anderson, 2013).
The major benefits that are associated with the BYOD project include five major areas. Each of these areas is incorporated into how Cisco operates and has been the major factor in why the BYOD initiative was embraced throughout the organization. The improved employee satisfaction is a benefit that is difficult to measure but is experienced by those that are utilizing tools and devices that fit their work style and they are most comfortable with. Cisco wanted to focus on the employees based on the consumer demands they were exhibiting and pushing to support those needs. Specifically, when the employees began to embrace iOS and Macs, Cisco pushed to support those types of operating systems and hardware along with the cloud computing (Gunn, 2013). This was a shift by Cisco from being a force in determining the IT solutions to being a conduit of solutions between the tools utilized to do the work and accessing the resources to make those tools efficient and effective. When the end user has a specific type of device and is fully proficient at utilizing that tool they are also more efficient at using the device. This increased productivity can be attributed to the expertise in the usage of the device they employee is engaging during their work. Cisco’s focus shifted from managing devices to harnessing the expertise and enthusiasm each employee had regarding their personal device (Gunn, 2013).
The consistent connectivity allows for reaction times to diminish and increased mobility for the employees. Working does not necessarily happen within the confines of the workspace between the hours of 9 and 5. With the mobility increased and the connection established, employees can expand their work environments to become more conducive to the type of efforts they need to accomplish. The flexible work environments allow for employees to get closer to the issues they are working by allowing travel and communication. This reduces or fully mitigates downtime by allowing a flexible work environment. With all of these activities focused on the employee there are also benefits that are enjoyed by the organization.
There are also other areas of benefit that the organization would experience. The reduction in IT costs is due in part to the shift of operational costs to the employee. The overall investment in the equipment is altered. There are many options on how to fund or not to fund the purchase of personal equipment for business use. When an employee purchases a smart phone, tablet or PC they typically depend upon the manufacturer for support in regard to their device (Anderson, 2013). These opportunities allows the organization to adopt the scalable services of outside providers and can identify and adjust the usage of these tools and services to control costs with a greater granularity.
With any opportunity there comes challenge (Cooper, Grey, Raymond, & Walker, 2005). Within the same opportunities of utilizing any device, accessing data anywhere there is internet connection and requiring connectivity at any time there are challenges to ensure all these types of devices can access the information. The model for supporting a limited list of tools is now expanded exponentially. The expectation for the employee to expect the same level of support for every different type of tool and device must be set to a different level. The IT administration team would not have the capability to support all the differing devices. The overall challenge to the IT security team is to determine what types of devices should not be allowed on the network based upon predefined security requirements instead of predefined devices. Cisco is challenged with a change in strategy in their IT focus to the macro-level requirements of the organization as opposed to the tactical operations of device management.
The security of the network operations cannot be sacrificed or compromised in any way due to the BYOD initiative and this presents its own set of challenges. With using the BYOD devices there is also the security of the data. Within Cisco, a major concerned stemmed from using cloud based services to share and store data. Cisco must ensure that the security remains uncompromised both within the company and outside of the company. This is extending the resources of the IT team to ensure complete safeguard and security of the data no matter what device accesses the cloud environment. With the increased usage of network capability there must be ways for increased visibility of the devices as well as monitoring the usage to ensure compliance of business policies. This includes monitoring and controlling the device when it is using the corporate network and separating itself once it is not. With the increased access there is also increased risk to data loss and new opportunities for attack on the corporate information. All of these risks can be mitigated through a risk management plan and each challenge will need to be remedied or accepted for the BYOD initiative to be successful.
The inherent risks of allowing personal devices access to the network creates a dynamic in which the IT experts within the organization must address the variability and enforce the standards and policies of the organization. Maintaining the corporate access policies must span any device that can access the infrastructure. The challenge is to maintain a simple yet effective solution to provide the level of support required for data integrity and security as well as ease of use of the personal devices. The increased scope of security program creates a strain on the current IT resources as the greater the scope of security requirements the more effort it will take to maintain and execute. With security, the basis for allowing specific information in and out of the corporate system is one aspect but it is also understanding who is accessing the system and when. With multiple devices that are not owned by the organization there is a blurred line between personal and business operations. The end user could have access to the device which ultimately has access to the network. Security measures must be in place to ensure the end user is monitored and controlled while also authenticating into the system as the verified user. Along with the challenges of ensuring a secured network with multiple access points and varying devices, there is also ensuring the network is configured in such a way that the user experience is configured and maintained in such a way that the performance is within the defined performance indicators and is not hindered based on device used.
Anderson, N. (2013). Cisco bring your own device. Device freedom without compromising the it network. Cisco.
Cooper, D. F., Grey, S., Raymond, G., & Walker, P. (2005). Project risk management guidelines, managing risk in large projects and complex procurements. John Wiley & Sons.
Gunn, D. (2013). How does enterprise IT respond to consumerization? To Mac, BYOD, and whatever comes next? Cisco.