Ask this question of any IT department and I’m sure what mobile devices they believe are used is different to the reality. With more and more people using a range of mobile devices every day, with many using their personal smartphones and tablets to conduct business, even if it is only phone calls, most IT departments aren’t aware of the number of devices being used for business purposes… And it’s not getting any better!
A 2012 Osterman Research study, up to a third of organisations admit that knowledge of smartphone use within their company is not accurate because IT is not able to manage devices to the level they would wish. Part of this oversight is because technology has made smartphones, tablets, PDAs, etc. far more capable than they once were and provide users with far wider options for use in the business world than they did a few years ago.
What can help to rectify this situation is the implementation of a Mobile Device Management (MDM) plan, giving IT more control and the organisation more visibility into the mobile devices used by employees. But how do you devise an effective MDM plan? This checklist will help you define what you want your plan to achieve.
1. Make a mobile inventory. Create a list of the devices used by your workforce that needs to be managed, i.e. your mobile asset inventory, including the types and models of devices, who carries and uses what device, the systems and use of that device, and whether it needs to be integrated into the organisations systems and processes, the capabilities of each device, whether that device remains active or needs to be decommissioned, or do they need to be upgraded.
2. Manage the mobile device provisioning. Decide how each device will be used, by whom, and who needs access to what; develop criteria, a bottom line, as to what is an acceptable level of performance, i.e. which platforms are to be supported, minimum standard models, remote capabilities, and any additional hardware. Decide whether the organisation is going to provide the devices or allow employees to use their own, and if using their own, registering that device on your inventory, handling activation to applications, portals and installations, and the configuration of the mobile device.
3. Distribution of mobile software. Which software packages and applications can users have access to in order for them to fulfil their roles? Will you allow users to download updates directly or through IT, or a combination of both? Will IT implement automated processes? IT will also have to consider limited WANs or those that are unreliable, and manage bandwidth. Define an application maintenance programme that plans updates and patches with minimal user intrusion.
4. Securing your mobiles. Whilst many mobile devices offer basic levels of security, it is very much recommended that further security measures are implemented, such as user authentication, a password policy, black and white list restrictions, secure communications to protect software updates and any changes to configuration, and some IT departments may want to have the ability to remotely wipe data from mobile devices, for instance, if the device has been lost or stolen, or the need to reset the device.
5. Protect your mobile data. The data held on a mobile device is just as important as the device itself and organisations need to make sure that it is protected. Methods include establishing policies for encrypting data to avoid unauthorised access to data stored on the mobile device, such as secure data lockers, IT-controlled backup – most mobile devices are capable of handling over-the-air backup solutions or via a cloud backup service, and data tracking enabling the generation of an audit trail of corporate content transferred between mobile devices.
6. Monitor activity and set up a Helpdesk. An effective MDM plan should help to reduce costs of maintenance and provide a greater level of support for mobile devices, and some tasks can be shifted to the user rather than IT, such as self-help portals, password resets and backup restoration. But IT needs to stay on top of mobile usage through real-time status updates and upkeep of mobile devices.
This checklist might seem like common-sense but you’d be surprised at the number of organisations that doesn’t know the level of mobile usage by their employees… time to find out?