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When it comes to mobile device management, are you winning? – by Paul Fegan

What comes to mind when you think of the Houses of Parliament? It’s probably impolite to say but I’m fairly certain it’s not youth, technology and social networking.

Well, think again.

Paul Fegan

Paul Fegan of Mala Communications

In January, the House of Lords made changes to its working practices that allowed the use of twitter and hand held devices in the chamber, and now the House of Commons is following suit.

iPads and smartphones must be on silent and used in a way that doesn’t impact on proceedings but they’ll definitely offer an updated alternative to paper speaking notes.

And it’s not just in politics that mobile devices are changing the way we work. The iPad is being considered as a shop floor tool in the retail environment too. Soon, you could be able to pay for a purchase through a retail app, rather than queuing at the checkout and the weekly, monthly and annual stock checks will be much easier as a result of real time access to relevant company data.

The phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ it seems is here to stay as the mobile market continues to grow at an exponential rate.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last ten years it’s that the mobile component of an organisation’s telecoms expenditure can be the most complex and time consuming element to manage. With employees now able to use their mobiles to make micro purchases, donate to a chosen charity and download applications that are not always business related, being able to verify mobile expenditure is imperative.

For example, if your employees are using the company mobile to update their oyster card, even if it’s for business travel, you need to extract this from your mobile spend as it’s not VAT free. Furthermore, if someone in your organisation has used their mobile to make a one-off charity donation (Comic Relief made more than £7m this year from text donations), unless you have a company policy to support the same charity, this is classed as personal usage and the VAT can’t be claimed back.

As I said, it’s a very complex area.

So what should you do? Well for many organisations it’s the start of a new financial year so why not begin as you mean to go on:

1.      Review mobile phone/device ownership to ensure the devices you’re paying for still reside in the company (up to 20% of company mobiles are used by former employees)

2.      Manage personal usage on those devices in use by employees – a fair personal use policy will ensure appropriate charges are billed back to the employee (or at least identified and removed from the mobile bill before the VAT return is submitted)

3.      If your estate is particularly complex and you don’t have the resources required to manage it regularly and in detail, secure outside help – a Telecoms Cost Management specialist can often provide a return-on-investment in a matter of months

If your organisation issues company mobiles and you’re unsure whether all expenditure is business related, perhaps it’s time to start investigating. You’ll then be certain that your telecoms expenditure is fully compliant with relevant legislation and you might even make some savings. That’s definitely a win, win.

About Paul Fegan

Paul Fegan is Managing Director of Mala Communications and has been a member of the Academy for Chief Executives (ACE) for a number of  years.  The benefit of shared experience and self development are Paul’s main reasons for membership of industry programmes such as ACE and in addition Paul is the chair for the Telecoms Cost Management forum within the CMA (Communications Management Association).

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