How to scale mobile management into company-wide success

On August 27, 2013

Businesses are becoming more productive and are able to get by with fewer resources as they implement mobile technologies. When done right, mobile management makes workers efficient, provides superior customer service, and enables the company to reach new heights. What does it take to properly manage your mobile workforce and come out on top?

Make It Secure


Image via Flickr by gailjadehamilton

The number one concern when empowering a mobile workforce is (and should be) security. What does it take to secure your mobile devices?

  • Good employee training on policies and procedures

  • Demanding users create high-level passcodes

  • Managing incoming and outgoing employees to make sure the right people have access and the wrong ones don’t

  • High-level encryption

  • A secure server

  • A good bank of secure applications for doing what needs to be done

  • A well-trained IT staff

With good security management, you can protect your company data and customer information. Without it, there’s only disaster. Consult your IT department about security, keeping them informed of changes within your workforce, and stay connected with them for continuing security. Stay on top of legislation that mandates the handling of certain types of data, such as consumer financial and credit information and healthcare records on patients. Some types of data aren’t suitable for a mobile work environment because of government laws and regulations.

Make It Convenient

A mobile workforce is only empowered to the extent that its mobile apps can serve its needs. One aspect of security is that workers should be using the apps either developed in-house or agreed upon to use for given tasks. They’ll only use your apps if they’re as convenient and intuitive as those they can download.

Make sure your mobile workforce has what they need and that it’s easy to use. Define which apps are for what purposes, so users don’t compromise your data with apps like Dropbox.

Your IT staff will be able to decide which apps are compatible and secure for your mobile workforce to use. In some cases, your IT team might need to develop applications in-house to enable your mobile workers without compromising security and usability. Workers should have a full range of apps to cover all their work processes, while each worker uses the same apps for the same tasks. This ensures all your documents and communications are compatible, consistent, and remain secure.

Make It Cost-Efficient

Companies get better discounts on mobile plans than people do. Buy your devices in bulk, and revisit your data and service plan regularly to make sure it’s meeting your needs. Are you buying enough data for your workers? Are you buying too much? Providing office Wi-Fi or offering a WLAN connection can reduce the amount of data you need to buy, saving you money.

Examine your software licensing to find ways to cut back on those expenses. Is it  necessary for Dave in accounting to have software licensing for a development package? It’s probably not.

Review areas where you can save money, while still empowering your mobile workers with the tools they need. When cutbacks are necessary, take the time to explain to workers why a specific software license isn’t necessary for their job. It can demoralize your workers if you seem to be taking things away from them without adequate explanation. Make sure they understand this is merely a cost cutting initiative and has no bearing on their status within the company.

Companies also need to review how many mobile devices each worker needs to effectively do their jobs. Forbes reports that the average mobile worker carries 3.5 devices. Unless you’re a BYOD office environment, this excess probably isn’t necessary. Could the same worker do his or her job with just one cell phone and tablet, or perhaps just a notebook computer? Just as you would with workers who remain in the office all day, make sure you’re only paying for the supplies needed.

Make It Policy

What policies and procedures are in place to govern your mobile workforce? How are these policies monitored for compliance? What are the consequences for failing to adhere to guidelines? Successful companies give their employees enough power to do their jobs, but not enough rope to hang themselves (or, in this case, your company). Initiate a mobile device management program and create a procedures manual, so that everyone has a copy and knows what to expect. Make sure Sally in Omaha, Ben in Biloxi, and Chris in San Diego are all doing the same thing the same way – and that it’s the right way.

Policies should be in place to handle things like:

  • Who has access to what data

  • When and where these workers are allowed to get access to the data

  • Whether they’re allowed to email or print the data while out of the office

  • How workers are given access to the servers from their mobile devices

  • Which mobile devices are compatible and secure for use with office servers

  • How workers will be removed from the system upon cessation of employment

When a mobile workforce is armed correctly, trained properly, and costs are under control, you can count your mobile management as a success. Bear in mind, what worked well last year may not serve you well this year. Revisit your mobile needs regularly to stay ahead in the game.

Studies show the workforce of the future is mobile, and the traditional 9 to 5 jobs are fast becoming a thing of the past. Three of every five workers believe it’s unnecessary for them to work at the office to be productive. Work is becoming something we do, not a place we go. About 87 percent of businesses are providing their workers with smartphones, and 38 percent of workers feel they’re more productive at home than in a cubicle.

While the mobile workforce is still evolving, it’s obvious that getting a good game plan for managing the mobile office is a step toward establishing the future of almost any company. Secure your systems and data, arm your workforce with training and cost-effective tools, and put the right policies in place. Do that and your mobile workforce will be headed toward productivity and a solid future.