Ten questions for accountancy SME’s to consider before ditching traditional, office based IT

“Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) work regimens can act as a boon for employers: more flexible hours, reduced office overheads and greater productivity,” said IT entrepreneur Gary David Smith.

“But here are so many considerations to be made before an SME embarks upon this method of working. However, many Managed Service Providers seem to be fixated grabbing as much new business as possible and recommending Cloud migration and BYOD working without considering each individual client’s needs,” said Mr Smith – who is the co-founder of Prism Total IT Solutions.

“By using Cloud based applications and BYODs employees can work anywhere, anytime. There have been several studies demonstrating that employees using BYOD’s are more likely to work at unsociable and out of office hours: hence an employer can benefit from an increase in productivity. But there are important issues to be considered with security, performance and control that can cost business dearly if they are not dealt with early on,” explained Mr Smith – whose company supplies managed IT support services to over 1000 SME’s nationwide.

Gary David Smith’s top ten considerations before adopting BYOD systems of working:

1. Compatibility of operating systems; BYOD users usually have ‘home operating systems’ which can cause connectivity issues in business environments.

2. Licensing – a lot of people have home-use software loaded on personal devices which is not designed for use in a corporate environment and isn’t compatible legally.

3. Personal and business software – most individuals don’t just have business applications on their personal devices. Inevitably they will have entertainment applications like iTunes, Games, Peer 2 Peer software or Facebook. These can cause issues, slow machines down, and potentially introduce viruses which can cause expensive business downtime.

4. Warranties – warranties that have been purchased on a machine intended initially for home-use can be invalidated if the supplier discovers that the machine has been used for business purposes.

5. Warranties – in many cases home warranties are not suitable for business support – e.g. requiring the machine to be returned to the manufacturer for 28 days!

6. Multiple users on home devices – family members etc. can compromise data security and also mix personal and corporate data together.

7. No control over how users store software & licenses. This can cause major headaches when rebuilding/repairing devices if users don’t know where their discs are.

8. Compliance Guidelines – the employer must consider how industry based compliance guidelines are to be enforced – e.g. meeting ICO or Data Protection guidelines. The accountancy profession has fundamental principles which at the core include confidentiality and professional behaviour.

9. Data-backup – how is data-backup controlled/ enforced if it is left up to the employee? It will be employer’s data that is at risk.

10. Compatibility – Ensuring that hardware and operating systems are suitable to work effectively with existing software packages that are being run or being operated from the Cloud.