The pros and cons of BYOD in accounting firms

Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, is an increasingly common policy in offices everywhere, where employees use their own personal devices instead of those owned by the company and kept within its workspace. With accounting firms, data security is a top priority, which puts into question whether a BYOD policy is worth the convenience. Take a look at the upsides and downsides of BYOD in accounting, and you should be able to make a decision that fits your situation.

Pro: Employee Convenience

Many employees sing praises when they aren’t forced to use an unfamiliar machine and operating system to get their work done. It’s also convenient to be able to check up on something at any time, even off of work hours. When allowed to use a device they are already used to and keep with them at all times, employees feel more confident in how many tasks they can complete, and they will be able to more concretely answer how long an issue will take to resolve. At its best, BYOD has raised productivity by encouraging a better work-life balance.

Con: Device Age and Service Mixing

Image via Flickr by lukew

With BYOD, firms open the floodgates to a massive range of devices from years ago to present day. Some employees’ personal devices could be way out of date or use a less reliable network, to the point of it compromising security. Contrast that with a controlled scenario, where every employee is given a work-only Galaxy S8 paired with T-Mobile’s 4G network. This would make transferring data and troubleshooting painless, and you’d have the peace of mind that all employees are working with the latest, most secure Android software.

Pro: Adaptation Savings

The larger the accounting firm, the more trouble it is to give all employees their own devices. The annual cost per employee is significantly lower when you don’t have to get everyone the new standard in technology every few years, and this rate of acceleration could only raise those costs. In many cases, BYOD is the more affordable choice for most smaller firms that are growing rapidly or large firms that would pay too much to buy a device for everyone.

Con: Work/Life Complications

Using BYOD presents another risk: There’s no telling what employees do on their own time that could pose a challenge for the firm. For example, employees could lose their phone or have it stolen, which may put sensitive information into the wrong hands. Even if the firm data is kept secure or locked down, employees who talk even a little about their work could be giving too much away in text messages, which could lead a potential thief to figure out a bigger leak.

Pro: Management Software

Though the complexity of BYOD might seem intimidating, an employer who switches to a BYOD policy will make data security and general management a lot simpler as long as a fitting management tool is used. Such software lets employers police and control data across all devices at any time. There are many convenient mobile device management software options and services, including lists of the top rated device managing software of 2017. These tools have become simple and affordable through heavy competition.

Con: CYOD Alternative

Though BYOD is more popular with general employees, IT and security workers often prefer an alternative called Choose Your Own Device. CYOD is when a company lets employees choose from a list of vetted devices, such as only the most recent Android phones under T-Mobile 4G LTE. The controlled but employee-friendly nature of CYOD is a middle ground option that serves many businesses well, as it has the flexibility of having however many devices the employer considers cost efficient, all under the same reliable network.

Ultimately, BYOD requires management software and a capable IT team to manage the workplace data on employee devices, but such maintenance could add up to less than buying a universal set of devices running under a single high-speed and secure network. The issue boils down to cost versus risk, and there is no universal answer. Take these pros and cons into account and be sure to see where employees stand on the issue.