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BYOPC support: How to troubleshoot before issues emerge

Once a bring your own PC program is up and running, the help desk tickets will flow -- IT must be prepared to handle BYOPC support when issues arise.

Once your policies and security practices are in place and your employees are working with enterprise applications, you'll start getting BYOPC support requests.

Consider how IT administrators will troubleshoot problems with users' personal devices. Ideally, the BYOPC support staff will have its own devices running all company-supported platforms. IT support groups should test enterprise applications on various devices before announcing support for them.

Establish guidelines that outline what types of BYOPC support advice you'll offer -- for example, don't suggest wiping the device -- and set limits on the time and resources that you'll dedicate to troubleshooting employee-owned PCs and related devices. When using virtual desktop environments, determine which clients you support and test for usability and performance.

As part of enterprise support of BYOPC policies, consider the following tasks:

  • Define acceptable use policy.
  • Understand liability and privacy issues (now would be a good time to call your legal department).
  • Formulate a governance model and understand what role, if any, end users will have in setting or changing policies.
  • Determine which enterprise applications will be accessible in BYOPC and under what circumstances (e.g., Application X can only be used when on a virtual private network or through a virtual desktop).
  • Specify BYOPC authentication and encryption requirements.
  • Determine how you will enforce policies. Will existing management systems, such as Exchange ActiveSync, meet your needs, or will you need mobile device management software?
  • Create a list of requirements for managing personally owned PCs. Assess existing systems for meeting those requirements, and then consider if additional functionality is needed.
  • Assess your ability to support multiple applications on multiple platforms. What limits will you have to prevent undue burdens on IT support staff?
  • Determine which methods for delivering enterprise applications your organization will support, and test enterprise applications for usability and performance.

The success of a BYOPC strategy depends in large part on the ability of desktop administrators to help executives and managers understand its risks and benefits and to implement policies and enforcement mechanisms. Administrators will be required to work on a wide range of BYOPC support tasks, from specifying security controls and evaluating applications to determining the best methods for enforcing policies. Implementing a BYOPC or BYOD program is challenging because it requires you to keep in mind the best interests of the business and employees while maximizing the benefits to both.

About the author

Dan Sullivan, who holds a master's degree in computer science, is an author, systems architect and consultant with over 20 years of IT experience, with engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence.

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