How big should your IT staff be to manage a mobile fleet?

Reuben Staines
December 3, 2018

Whether you’re planning a corporate-issued smartphone deployment or launching a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, it’s critical to ensure you have the headcount in place to manage both the initial rollout and the ongoing IT and administrative tasks. The question is: how much time will it take to manage a mobile device program, and how many full-time IT staff will you need to retain?

According to a recent study by Oxford Economics, commissioned by Samsung, the average organization issuing smartphones to 1,000 employees will require just over two full-time equivalent staff to manage the program. The study estimated that this represented an annual investment of around $180,000, inclusive of salary and overheads. For a detailed, personalized analysis of the total costs involved in a mobile deployment, use our Enterprise Mobile Cost Calculator.


IT staffing needs differ based on company size

The number of IT staff required to oversee a mobile deployment has a strong correlation to the number of devices in use. However, larger enterprises can achieve some economies of scale since many mobile device management tasks are automated, staff members can become more specialized and efficient processes can be put into place. For example, the model developed by Oxford Economics found that a 10,000-device deployment would typically require 16-17 full-time equivalent staff to manage an enterprise-level mobile program across multiple locations.


Outsourcing to managed mobility service provider

IT headcount can also be reduced significantly if an organization enlists the help of a third-party service provider to support its mobile program. Mid-sized organizations opting for a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) model — where smartphones are leased from and fully managed by the service provider — may only require a single program administrator to negotiate MaaS contract renewals and handle in-house oversight duties.


Maximizing mobile value

Download the in-depth study from Oxford Economics for a full view of mobile ROI.

When considering the IT staffing and costs for a new mobile program, it’s important to look at in-house overheads and third-party service provider fees in tandem. According to the Oxford Economics study, smaller businesses can likely achieve significant savings by having a managed services provider run their program, while larger enterprises may have the scale, resources and expertise to manage and deploy devices efficiently on their own.


BYOD or corporate-issued?

Just because an organization is not issuing smartphones to its workforce doesn’t mean that significant IT resources won’t be required for mobile management. Companies adopting a BYOD approach will typically still require all employees to install enterprise mobility management (EMM) clients on their personal devices, implement basic EMM policies, run a mobile support desk and, in many cases, administer mobile stipends.

According to the Oxford Economics study, which drew on interviews with 500 senior IT and business leaders, organizations operating BYOD policies should anticipate requiring slightly fewer IT admins than for a corporate-issued mobile program. The study estimated the average annual investment for salary and overheads for a 1,000-device deployment to be around $166,000 for an organization operating a BYOD program, compared to the $180,000 cited above for the corporate-issued mobile program.


Regulated industries have greater management overheads

Organizations operating in highly regulated environments such as government, healthcare and finance should also anticipate increased staffing and expenditure for the administration of mobile device programs. According to the Oxford Economics model, the 1,000-employee corporate-issued device deployment would represent an investment of $206,000 in annual salaries and overheads in a regulated industry context.

This is likely due to more stringent mobile security and management infrastructure requirements. For example, regulated organizations will typically have in place more advanced EMM solutions, including application blocklisting, containerization and two-factor authentication. IT teams will be larger, more complex and in some cases more highly compensated.


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