There’s a new trend amongst the project management population, and it’s one that businesses aren’t really ready for. Employees are shunning the corporate-issue mobile phones and using their own devices to access project data and collaboration tools. We’re in the era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
If you have seen your project team members whip out their personal iPhones during meetings then you’ve already experienced the BYOD phenomenon. As companies cut costs, project team members have to keep their outmoded corporate phones for longer. With top of the range mobile devices changing every few months, those on your team who like new gadgets will be down their local high streets upgrading their personal devices on a regular basis. It is highly likely that your project team has greater processing power and capacity on their personal phones than on the ones the Portfolio Office issues out to new team members.
The Benefits of BYOD
BYOD is actually a good thing for companies as well. If your organization has a BYOD policy, it can cut the cost of bringing a new member of staff on to the project team as you don’t have to pay for their phone. It makes support easier too, as employees using their own devices know how they work, making your team much more productive and less likely to spend hours on the phone to the corporate IT helpdesk trying to get a connection or download a file.
According to Click Software, letting your team use their own phones and tablets will increase staff engagement. Over 60% of companies who let employees use their own devices at work see a positive impact on employee satisfaction. That in turn means a lower turnover of staff, more motivated employees and generally a nicer place to work. Who doesn’t want that?
Companies with a BYOD policy also report that their staff are more productive. They can catch up with work emails on the go so while they are travelling they can also be checking in with project tasks. A massive 70% of employees with smart phones check their work emails outside of work hours too, so you can squeeze a little bit more out of the team!
BYOD and Project Management
So apart from better team morale and productivity, why does this matter for project managers? Many enterprise project management tools today come with the option to access them via tablets like iPads. When you are considering what software would best suit your team and your Portfolio Office, consider how it will be used. If your team are all office based with regular hours and not much travel, a traditional installation of software will be suitable for your needs. However, if your team travel widely and need mobile access to data and schedules, then a software tool with the option of an easy interface via a mobile device could be more appropriate.
If you already use an enterprise project management tool, check out the growing number of apps available to allow your project team access to the data in the tool while they are out and about.
You can also investigate collaboration tools for mobile devices. There are many products available aimed at helping team members work effectively together. Some enterprise project management software products also have collaboration features.
There are training benefits from allowing a BYOD policy. There are dozens of project management training and development applications, podcasts, videos and flash cards. All of these make great learning tools for developing the staff in the PMO, and as there are many available for free, this can reduce the burden of having to design training materials in-house.
So Should You Allow BYOD in Your Team?
The short answer to that question is: only if your corporate IT policy allows you to. There are a number of security and technical challenges associated with BYOD, including making sure that sensitive project data is not accessible on someone’s tablet if it is stolen or lost. These aren’t difficult to overcome, but to effectively manage the risk of one of your team members leaving their unsecure iPad on the train, talk to your IT department before encouraging your project team to download apps and emails to their own devices.
BYOD is a trend that is here to stay. As project teams involve more people across more locations, being able to access your information on the go is increasingly important. As corporate budgets can’t manage to provide everyone with the phone or tablet of their choice, BYOD is a sensible compromise. It enables project team members to use devices that they feel comfortable with while at the same time reducing the support overhead for the central functions. So next time you see a dozen different phones and tablets around the table in your project team meeting, you’ll know why – just make sure that your IT department knows as well!