BYOD and Expense Management 2 – Apps

This is the fourth post in my series on BYOD. In my previous post on expense management I looked at how an organisation can pay for, or reimburse employees who pay for, the use of standard mobile services (voice and data) within a BYOD approach. What I had momentarily forgotten was the other key area of expenses that we face in the BYOD space – paying for apps. The problem with apps is similar. In order to make the most of smartphones and tablets users need access to apps – and many of these come at a cost. How does an organisation make sure that users have the apps they need? In general you are going to need another mechanism for apps. Apple does not allow carrier billing to pay for apps, and in most cases that isn’t a possibility for the other mobile device platforms either. The options are similar to those for traditional mobile services as outlined in my earlier expense management post:

  1. Do nothing. Employees provide their own apps if they need them.
  2. Standard corporate expense claims. If an employee needs an app, they pay for it and fill out the usual paperwork for an expense.
  3. Standard credit. Give each employee a credit (for example a $50 iTunes voucher) which they can use on any app. In this case it would probably pay to give them a list of recommended apps.
  4. Individualised credit. Provide individual employees credits for apps on an approval basis (basically the same as option 2, but paid for by the organisation).
  5. Bulk purchasing. Bulk purchase apps through something like the Apple volume purchasing plan. You can buy apps in bulk lots and then distribute them yourself.

In fact you may use a combination of many of these options – bulk purchasing for standardised corporate applications, standard credit for commodity apps where the particular applications don’t matter, and individualised credit for specialist apps for instance.

The important factor to understand here is that you will need to think about app purchase separately from purchasing standard mobile services (voice, text, data) as these are not always available through communications service providers. There are also security considerations to take into account when considering app purchasing and distribution, but that is a story for another post.

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