As organizations have grown to depend on the power of smart mobile forms and mobile devices to facilitate business processes, many have discovered that managing all those different devices - along with keeping the organizational and personal data running through them safe, secure and usable - is no simple task.
It's even more difficult for traditional IT departments that don't necessarily have a ton of experience dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of mobile devices of various makes and models. That's one reason why mobile device management (MDM for short, not to be confused with master data management) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) software have become standard for corporate mobile device management in many organizations.
Most MDM software contains both a server component (which sends commands) and client component (which executes these commands on the device). Mobile device management serves several core functions within an organization's mobile strategy, including:
- Enforcing consistent standards across a variety of devices
- Allowing scalable updates to numerous devices and apps
- Tracking ownership, location, use and other aspects of corporate devices
But despite the use of third-party software, the relative inexperience among some IT groups can also lead to costly mistakes in terms of MDM software selection, deployment and usage.
Mobile Device Management Software: Best Practices
Gartner says bad decisions around an organization's MDM solution are common and often a source of lost productivity, higher costs, and even internal squabbles among IT or throughout the wider organization.
Clearly, IT departments must do their research before committing to enterprise asset management software such as an MDM solution. Because while every organization is different with unique needs, there's also a common set of best practices that apply to pretty much everyone with mobile devices to manage.
- Take stock of your mobile landscape before implementation. This used to be an easy one for most organizations, but not anymore. Not only do most IT groups have to manage more devices than ever before, but depending on past practices, it might even be difficult to track down a definitive number. However, it's vital to have an accurate view of how many and what kinds of devices you're managing, which use cases you must facilitate, and which back-office systems and software platforms require mobile connectivity.
- Spell out an acceptable use policy (AUP). It's also very important to document the acceptable use of corporate mobile devices, or any piece of equipment capable of connecting to an unmanaged network. This policy typically includes high-level direction for corporate users, BYOD rules (more on that below), guidance on COPE (corporately-owned, personal use) scenarios, IT support parameters, network rules, eligibility for mobile access, and other important stipulations. And although one of the biggest challenges in creating an AUP is getting employees to actually follow it, there are plenty of examples online on writing a compelling policy that encourages buy-in among staff.
- Establish a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. This is typically part of your AUP, but has become so important it's worth mentioning as a standalone. BYOD policies are now fairly common with the advent of mobile field applications and the proliferation of personal devices being used for work purposes. That's why it's important to choose mobile device management software that also uses containerization, so organizational systems and data isn't put at risk by a user's personal content or app downloads.
- Don't be lax on security. When it comes to mobile device security, employees will usually follow the path of least resistance. That's why, along with containerization, it's important to ensure everyone sets strong passwords for their devices, and that you provide your IT team the ability to remotely wipe devices if they are lost or stolen. Other important security measures include the implementation of single sign on and access control protocols.
- Use the AppConfig Community to your advantage. AppConfig is a community devoted to establishing consistent and standardized tools and processes for configuring and managing mobile devices. This helps enterprises speed up and simplify their onboarding of third-party mobile apps, removing the need for proprietary software development kits (SDKs) or app wrapping tools to properly deploy apps via an MDM framework. ProntoForms is an AppConfig partner, which makes it easy to deploy, secure, and scale solutions for mobile workforces.
Whichever enterprise asset management systems you put in place, EMM and MDM software will only grow in importance as organizations move towards a unified endpoint management (UEM) approach. This combines corporate mobile device management with more traditional laptop and desktop computers, printers, IoT and edge devices, and more.
But rolling out a mobile device management program can be challenging. That's why following established best practices can not only save time, money and headaches during implementation, but also during your day-to-day operations. If you'd like to learn more about how you can more effectively manage your organization's devices and field service mobile applications, please visit our help & support page.
Jim Donnelly is a content marketing and communications consultant. He's the former editor-in-chief of Ottawa Business Journal and, most
recently, was Director of Media Insights at Agility PR Solutions (formerly MediaMiser). He's got a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University along with 15 years of professional experience creating, editing, and managing content, marketing and communications