Monday, May 30, 2011

Giving your employees a cell phone

This post first appeared on Droid Portal.
As a new business experiences growth new projects will become viable and providing cell phones to it's employees is a common goal small business owner want to accomplish. Before handing a cell phone to any employee a business owner should write policy to define the terms of use with the business phone. There should also be a strategy in place that focuses on keeping costs in check.

The first question a business owner should ask themselves is corporate liable or employee liable.

Corporate Liable - The wireless bill comes addressed to the business and is the responsibility of the business.
Employee Liable - The employee pays the wireless bill directly and is later reimbursed by their company.
There are benefits to both options mentioned above so first let's look at Corporate Liability.
The business is the complete owner and party responsible for payment of the bill. A company that goes with corporate liability is most likely looking for control, visibility, and security. In this case a corporation doesn't have to solely rely on their cellular use policy to govern how the service is used. A corporation retains ownership of the cell phone, has the right to put security software on the device, and can always look at the account in depth.

One of the negatives especially if you are dealing with a relatively new employee is lack of flexibility. If you purchase a phone and sign an agreement for a new employee and three months later they're gone then you are stuck with an extra phone. For a business that is implementing their first cellular use policy the corporate liable option may not be the best choice.

Employee Liable offers much freedom and flexibility.
Just because the employee is purchasing their own equipment and has service in their name doesn't mean that the corporation loses all control. This is what your Cellular Use policy is for. In this scenario your employee will sign a copy of your Cellular Use policy which entitles you to govern certain aspects of your employee's use of cell phones. In both instances you should have a well written CU Policy but here you rely more on your employee choosing to follow those policies. In your CU Policy clearly state what the ramifications are for not following parts of your policy. An employee could lose reimbursement for their cell phone or depending upon your policy could be terminated. Termination sounds extreme but placing it there gives you protection in the event an employee uses their cell phone negligently that could potentially harm your company.

One of the great benefits of employee liable is if you have to terminate an employee or they quit then you are not responsible for their wireless bill.

The corporate liable option gives more direct control over the cell phone. However that level of control may not be necessary and may be cumbersome at times. A strong Cellular Use policy will be more than sufficient in an employee liable case and will not have the same risks of overburdening your budget.

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