The Inside Scoop on Foley & Lardner’s BYOT Policy

How one CIO freed up his IT team, saved money and let a bunch of lawyers decide what device they would use for work.

Doug Caddell’s approach to bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) programs is to come from a place of “yes.” In order to allow employees to use their favorite devices, the CIO of law firm Foley and Lardner has allotted each employee a technology reimbursement allowance of $3,800 every three years, beginning on the date of the first reimbursement payment. But this BYOT program is more than just handing over cash.

Caddell’s decision to let employees buy their own devices was fueled by economic frustration and IT staffing cuts. But having users expense their purchases added administrative costs. Instead, he invested in a Web-based application that allowed employees to sign themselves up for the program and manage their accounts. (The BYOT program and its associated application won Foley and Lardner a CIO 100 Award this year.) Once enrolled, employees can submit receipts online for any approved device purchased. The cost is deducted from their technology allowance and reimbursed through their paychecks. The application cost $12,000 in developer time and now only requires one person to administer.

To give employees as much freedom of choice as possible, Caddell only put a limit on the amount they could spend, not on what devices they could buy. Any laptops, tablets, smartphones or Wi-Fi or broadband services are qualified purchases under the program, while equipment such as printers and monitors are not.

“I don’t care [what device they choose], as long as I can provide access to the corporate network,” Caddell says. “We need to get out of the equipment business, and as technology changes, we just roll with it.”

With a 26 percent decrease in IT headcount since the recession, Caddell also felt he needed to free up employees’ time and give them more flexibility to balance work, home and travel. The biggest win for IT was earning back support time. “Pre-deployment prep and then usage costs with repair and maintenance…now we don’t do any of that,” he says. Users handle their own maintenance and repairs, and Caddell urges them to buy extended warranties. “It’s in bold in the agreement,” he says.

To mitigate the security risks of new devices, including 400 iPads now on the company’s network because of the program, ­Caddell developed detailed contracts and policies to be signed by each employee. The policy allows the firm to wipe a device if it’s lost or stolen and requires Foley’s lawyers to store sensitive documents on servers through Citrix or VMware. Caddell is also working to virtualize more applications.

Follow Editorial Assistant Lauren Brousell on Twitter: @lbrousell.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams