An important rule of thumb is that the employer is largely responsible for the use of unlicensed software in the work environment. If software is being used to carry out on-the-job responsibilities, the business must be able to provide the correct licenses to prove the software has been properly acquired - even if employees are using it on their personal device. Similarly, companies who engage freelancers who carry out work for the company on their own devices must ensure any software in use is legally compliant.
In terms of clarifying lines of accountability, BYOD is as much a CFO concern as an IT matter, particularly if a company has to pay a fine as a result of procuring too few licences for their software. A recent study of ours found that 85 percent of financial directors are responsible for software licensing in their organisations and yet only 7 percent are confident that the software installed in their organisations has been deployed correctly.
This uncertainty could potentially spiral when processes are complicated by an influx of unregulated personal devices.It is therefore paramount that CFOs keep abreast of all software licensing issues, educate themselves of the risks and involve themselves in implementing clear BYOD policies to avoid the numerous risks.
In the first instance, it is important to build an inventory of which devices are being used for what purposes. Well defined and communicated guidelines are also essential, particularly when issues of legality and security are at stake. An agreement signed by both the employer and employee regarding sanctioned downloads and software licensing allowances would be prudent.
To provide peace of mind, companies might also want to carry out a thorough software audit once or twice a year. If necessary, this can be outsourced to an expert third party and may actually result in savings by identifying areas of over-licensing. If in doubt, companies shouldn't hesitate to seek legal advice to make sure they are compliant. Either way, a CFO's budget should include a line dedicated to BYOD, its safe implementation and annual audit. This way, there won't be any unexpected surprises further down the road.
Although senior management is ultimately responsible for ensuring a company's IT is legally compliant, employees need to be made aware of the pitfalls of illegal software use.
It's important for businesses to keep up with evolving workplace practices to keep their employees happy. BYOD is just one example of this, but it is a very important one, especially if a business employs a thriving Generation Y workforce that has grown up in the digital age. Innovations such as this are ultimately positive, but they shouldn't be deployed without thinking through the legal implications and potential consequences for the business.
Source: CFO World UK
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