Is It Time To Let Your Employees "Bring Their Own PC?" - InformationWeek

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7/28/2009
07:39 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
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Is It Time To Let Your Employees "Bring Their Own PC?"

A new Forrester Research study shows how one company has stopped supplying computers to its workers - saving the company money, lightening the IT workload, and making employees happy. Plus 10 simple rules for making it work at your company.

A new Forrester Research study shows how one company has stopped supplying computers to its workers - saving the company money, lightening the IT workload, and making employees happy. Plus 10 simple rules for making it work at your company.The July study by Natalie Lambert with Allison Herald says Bring Your Own PC (BYOC) programs are becoming increasingly popular, and looks into how Citrix Systems created a program that gave employees the choices they wanted but still covered all the key security issues.

Citrix had several goals for the BYOPC program:

  • Let employees choose their own machines and operating systems, which can be a key recruiting tool for tech-savvy workers
  • Provide simple self-service, application delivery and support to reduce the IT burden and let everyone in the company participate
  • Let employees buy their machines through Citrix' discount channels
  • Cut device management costs by 20%, in part by leveraging its own technologies

Citrix was able to meet all these goals using 10 simple rules:

  1. The program is voluntary, and open only to to full time employees.
  2. Participants can use any laptop running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Mac OS X
  3. Participants are enrolled for three years, and can then re-enroll.
  4. Participants receive a BYOC allowance of $2,100, with appropriate
  5. taxes withheld. This allowance goes toward the purchase and maintenance of the laptop -- whether participants buy a new laptop or use one they already own.
  6. The allowance is charged to the participant's departments cost center, and requires a managers approval.
  7. Participants must return their existing company-owned laptops.
  8. Participants connect to the Citrix network using Citrix Access Gateway both remotely and while in a Citrix office.
  9. Participants must have an RSA SecurID token for logging onto the Citrix network.
  10. Participants are required to purchase a 3-year maintenance agreement for their laptops, which will take over responsibility for virtually all support.
  11. Citrix provides application access via its XenApp virutalization platform. Any other software is the participant's responsibility or requires manager approval.

Not surprisingly, Citrix also requires participants to follow the company's standard secuirty policies and put antivirus software on their machines. McAfee is available free from the company's BYOPC Web site, which also offers optional software downloads, information on how the program works, and help with buying and maintaining laptop and software. There's also an internal company blog and discussion forum covering the program, and found that many participants used it to help each other troubleshoot problems and talk up their own systems.

According to the study, getting started with BYOPC raises a number of important issues, but small and midsize companies may find the transition much easier. Forrester suggests focusing on getting managerial buy-in and developing self-service tools. In smaller organizations, getting that buy-in should be less complicated, and setting up complex Web sites might not be necessary.

Who knows, you might get some of the additional benefits that Citrix found as well. BYOPC participants said their productivity increased, and many spent some of their own money to get high-end machines. That led them to use the laptops more often, including putting in extra hours during evenings and weekends, and led them to take better care of the machines. That mix of flexibility and personal involvement plays directly to the strengths of smaller companies.

Right now, BYOPC is a great way to save money and reduce IT support loads. When the economy improves, it will be a great way for smaller outfits to compete for employees.

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