Ripping off the bandage
At VMware, its 6,000 U.S. employees no longer have a corporate option. Under Egan's BYOD transition program, launched in September of 2011 and wrapped up in December, there are no more corporate-issued phones and service plans -- only a program that reimburses eligible employees for their smartphone expenses.
Once the decision was made to do away with the corporate phone, Egan's team segmented its user base, with input from line-of-business managers, to determine which employees legitimately needed a phone for business reasons and what was reasonable for reimbursement based on their usage.
Sales representatives, for example, are awarded $250 a month because they tend to be more reliant on the phone out in the field, including, for some, international travel. Most users outside of sales get a stipend of $70 monthly, Egan says, though overages can be negotiated.
"If there's a legitimate business reason for why the phone bill is higher, that's okay," Egan says. "We didn't want to affect business as a result of all this." And some workers get only the privilege of using their own smartphone to access office apps -- no stipend at all.
To get the transition rolling, users were coached through the process of converting their corporate phone into a personal phone and initiating a plan with their preferred carrier. Those who wanted a different phone than the one they had been issued by VMware had to pay any differences out of pocket and ensure their phone of choice supported BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or Microsoft ActiveSync.
As can be imagined, not every employee was happy with the changes. Some who'd had unlimited company-paid plans in the past didn't want to have to start thinking about costs, Egan says. Others questioned the reimbursement rates, disliked the process of filling out expense reports, or simply said it was time-consuming to work with carriers.
Egan said his team did everything possible to make the experience less of a headache for users, including training, inviting carriers in to make presentations to users, and what Egan claimed was his ace in the hole: The company's internal SocialCast collaboration platform, which served as a central place for disseminating information and for users to help and support each other through the transition.
While Egan's rip-off-the-bandage approach to BYOD might be somewhat controversial, he said it would have been far more difficult to manage a phased approach and the decision fit with what he says is VMware's "all-in" culture, which eschews phase-ins in general in favor of sweeping moves and quick decisions.
In the months since the program's been in place, the company has already achieved significant cost savings -- about a third of what it was spending on cell phone fees in the United States, which Egan says is easily in the seven figures. Savings came primarily from more stringently monitoring which employees needed a corporate phone at all and from directing managers to keep a closer eye on their employees' monthly usage reports.
Now that he no longer does phones, Egan is happily shifting his focus to more strategic endeavors. "I didn't know how to add a lot of value [just] being 'the phone guy,'" Egan says. "Now we can roll out programs and services that increase revenue and help VMware build better products."
Checklist: How to phase out the corporate phone
With BYOD adoption in full swing, are you ready to get out of the business of supporting the corporate-issued phone? Just because the timing may be right, it doesn't mean the process is simple or without significant change-management challenges, IT managers warn.