It’s no secret that mobile phones are absolutely integral to the smooth day-to-day running of most modern businesses. Perhaps more than ever before, they keep us connected with our colleagues – giving us the power to communicate and collaborate on an almost any task, in real-time.

Mobile tech is, understandably, regarded as an unavoidable cost. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to minimize that outlay.

Typically, when you’re looking to get mobile devices for your employees, there’s a pretty well-established way of doing things. You’ll probably start by identifying a handset that does everything you need it to do.

Once you’re set on one, you’ll likely shop around for the best price, before committing into a contract – generally a long, fixed-term agreement – which includes your chosen handset as part of the deal.

Stop the press: this isn’t necessarily the smartest way to do things.

The SIM only solution

You’ve probably heard about SIM only contracts in the media. Their rise to prominence has been one of the most notable trends in mobile in recent years. Back in 2013, the adoption of these contracts skyrocketed by a phenomenal 400%,1 and they continue to be highly popular.

The idea is simple. The phone company saves on having to give you a brand spanking new phone – and you pay a reduced monthly premium for your calls, texts and data as a result. Even better, this often comes without the long-term commitment you’d otherwise expect.

There’s an increasing realisation that this might be a smart way to go for business contracts, too. From a sheer bottom line perspective, you can save up to 15% of what you’d spend on a standard business contract by procuring mobile contracts without the handset included. A 2014 study suggested that SIM-only contracts for four members of staff every month – as opposed to a business-specific offering – could save a company £63.32 per month. It might not be quite enough to start thinking about retirement on a beach – but it’s better in your pocket than the phone company’s, right?

Once you’ve bought your tariff

With the contract signed sealed and delivered, you need to decide what device your employees will be using.

You have two real options here.

You could use your employees to use their own devices. ‘Bring your own device’ or BYOD is an interesting trend, with some research suggesting that as many as half of all workers could be required to use their own phones on the job by 2017.

But, while this approach does save money and encourage employees to use devices they’re comfortable with, it has its drawbacks, too. Chiefly, it makes it infinitely more difficult for you to provide first class support – your team needs to be massively on the ball, offering support across a phenomenal number of platforms and devices. While BYOD gathers pace abroad, it seems to be growing slower here in Europe.

The other option – and the one we’d plump for – is to simply go out and procure your own handsets. Shop around and get the best price, and this approach can really save you money: by paying for your devices up front, you’ll often end up paying considerably less than you would over the course of a long-term contract agreement!