Leaky toilets

by Brian Katz on April 3, 2013 · 2 comments

I fixed one of my toilets this weekend. It wasn’t completely broken. As a matter of fact it performed its main function perfectly. You used it, you pushed down on the lever and all the crap was gone. If only it were so easy in real life. The problem was that there was a leak, apparently the seal between the bowl and the tank wasn’t watertight and a little bit of water leaked out. Nothing major, just the tank would refill every 15 minutes once the float sank about 2 inches.

money-toiletAs I repaired the tank, I thought about what that leak meant to me. It was only about a half gallon of water, didn’t seem like much of an issue. Then I started to do the math. I was losing 2 gallons of water every hour. That was 48 gallons of water each day. Every day that I didn’t repair it, another 48 gallons got flushed down the sewer. It still didn’t seem like a lot. It was only 1440 gallons a month. It didn’t dawn on me that the water I was losing every 15 minutes meant money out of my pocket. I only get my water bill once a quarter. I also have a family that doesn’t know the meaning of a short shower. It didn’t occur to me how much this could really cost me. Then my sewer bill came. They devised a new rate that was dependent upon the amount of water I used. I was now paying for the leak in two separate places. Needless to say my toilet no longer leaks. It reminded me of the ways many organizations handle BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

This isn’t much different from how many companies sanction BYOD. Their users choose their devices and if they are using them for work in most cases they end up getting a stipend. In some cases that stipend covers the cost of the whole bill and in others it covers a subset of the bill. As it’s almost always a personally liable device (your company didn’t pay for it) the only discount you get on your contract is whatever your company may have negotiated. This only works if you remember to apply for the discount as well.

Now let’s look at a large company that has invested in corporately liable devices. They have paid for the device, which if they got on a 2 year plan is probably around $200 as the carrier will subsidize the purchase. They then have a few options for their employees. Many of the large companies now have the choice of pooling their voice minutes and their data buckets. That way if one person goes over their allotment in voice or data, they can use another person’s allotment to make up the difference. They have gotten rid of many of the overages that their employees end up charging back to the company.

Invariably, the carriers give bigger discounts to these larger companies than a single person can get on their own. They also offer different types of roaming plans that allow the business users to roam internationally at greatly reduced rates or sometimes at a fixed rate. This compares to the $1.00 per minutes voice costs and $10.00 per 10 MB that many individual users pay for.

These numbers may be somewhat different based upon the size of the company you work for, but it represents significant savings over what many companies are paying for today. In many cases, it is cheaper for the company to buy the phone on a 2 year contract and they still end up saving over twice the original cost of the phone.

As each person who participates in BYOD does his or her own expenses, it doesn’t seem like a lot. It’s only a slow leak, $10 or $20 a month. It’s just a few dollars on each expense report and it’s within the reporting guidelines. If they only travel overseas occasionally you never really notice the $100 bill for roaming that they submit. It didn’t seem like an issue, they had to get business accomplished. Now take that 1 person and multiple them by the other 5000 people in the company who are doing the same thing every month. Now you have a run rate of $50000 a month or $600,000 a year. It didn’t seem like much when it was only $10 for each person. It was easy to ignore.

Sometimes that nuisance of a toilet leak, even the dog learnt to ignore its clockwork like hissing, is worth fixing. It doesn’t seem like much, but when you start to look at the whole picture, it can make a lot of difference.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Branscombe April 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Now check if your facilities team have any idea what a data plan actually costs; in some companies employees can claim much more than the actual data plan cost and they’re on to a nice little earner. In one company I know of, 20% of BYOD users cost more than the whole corporate liable device program.


Brian Katz April 4, 2013 at 12:05 am

Mary –

You are completely right and this is one of the reasons that companies look at TEMS (Telecom Expense Management Systems). It can be very easy to set policy and do basic monitoring and build best practices, but many companies aren’t there yet. You are right.


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