Creating an Effective Mobile Workforce in Your Organization
Breakroom conversations in early September turned from sports and the election–to the new iPhones. Are they better than ever? Is the lack of an earphone jack good or bad? Is an upgrade necessary or should I stick with what I have for now?
This is not just idle breakroom chatter–organizational executives and managers across industries and services sectors are asking the same thing. Companies see value in driving mobile telecommunications usage for better sales and ROI. But there is often a disconnect between management’s strategy and how it gets implemented throughout an organization resulting in higher than necessary costs and/or missed business opportunities.
Consider that having a mobile program that is not aligned to strategy can cause delays in rolling out key enablement tools and applications that may not be supported well enough to reap the value expected.
When it comes to taking control of your mobile workforce, resistance to change is the main obstacle. Employees inevitably make a personal connection with their mobile devices, whether the company owns it or has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. There may be a “mobile first” policy at the executive level but the organization ends up implementing a set of mobile restrictions either intentionally for cost management purposes or unintentionally by failing to adopt legacy processes to the unique requirements of mobility (support, request and fulfillment, etc.)
When an organization lacks control of its mobile workforce, it faces many or all of the following challenges:
- Confusion of ownership–multiple departments like IT or Finance think that they own it, but do not have the tools necessary to manage it.
- Employees do not follow policy and end up going around the process to procure whatever they want.
- Productivity suffers because employees don’t know how to obtain devices, who to call for support, or how to use their new devices.
- The organization has a policy but does not enforce it–or makes arbitrary exceptions.
- Employee turnover results in proprietary information leaving on non-company-owned phones.
Successful wireless management requires a cultural shift. The first step is to move away from a commonly held perspective that mobility management limits employees and the business. On the contrary, it is highly enabling for the business and its employees because the visibility and control improves productivity and eliminates wasteful spending on unnecessary tasks. With a good strategy and implementation plan to take control, mobility management can be accomplished relatively painlessly while achieving hard-dollar savings and increases in revenue opportunities.
Here are four key parts of a winning mobile strategy:
When developing your enterprise’s mobile strategy and policy, align with corporate objectives and create a strategic roadmap. As simple as it sounds, starting with a solid understanding of business vision and current objectives is often overlooked. Every aspect of your mobile environment should be evaluated to determine if it supports and furthers your mission. What is the near-term path for mobile integration into the business? Which applications need to be available wirelessly? What are the security requirements of the business? In terms of the cultural impact, employees have a much easier time adapting to change when the underlying reason for change is clear and well communicated.
2. Change Management and Communication
Defining clear processes through every step of the implementation is the best way to reduce the uncertainty and discomfort in employees. Outlining roles and responsibilities and providing guidance on how to adapt to new policies goes a long way toward eliminating the anxiety that inevitably comes with change. Communication should start from the top and be organization-wide. Involve employees in problem solving and communicate that they are part of the solution.
Policy is meaningless if exceptions are made arbitrarily and without business justification. Policy must address exception management, but exceptions must be objective, not subjective. Enforcing policy is often painful at first, so be mindful that end users may object and you may take the heat. Again, clear communication throughout all stages of the implementation and enforcement will help.
Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the policy is critical to the success of your mobile environment. Clear processes and ownership of monitoring the policy on a consistent basis enable identification of policy elements that are working well or not. If a policy causes disruption in productivity and tension in the organization, it needs to be re-evaluated.
Managing mobility is no longer a side issue in most organizations. Creating and implementing a mobile workforce policy with minimal pain and disruption could be essential to the long-term success of your organization. Take the time up front to think through the issues you might face and have a plan to address objections. You cannot over-communicate a mobile policy.
Finally, know your limits—if you don’t have the internal expertise or bandwidth to give your mobility policy the attention it deserves, hire an expert. It will be money well spent.
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