As a consultant, I have to move around to various companies as part of my job. Sometimes I am able to stay with the same client for months, sometimes weeks. The one thing that continues to be an issue wherever I go is the availability of a suitable development environment for me to start working on day one. I typically bring in my own laptop so that I can get started as quickly as possible. This is only if the client allows it.

I’ve worked at a number of fortune 500 companies, and typically the answer to the “may I use my own hardware?” question is a solid NO. An exception to that answer was my last client – they are a large company with nearly $19 billion in revenue and yet they have an open policy about outside hardware. They outwardly tell people (at least in the IT areas) that you (employees/consultants) can bring in faster computers and better hardware than we can probably provide. Have at it.

The risk of this position is that of viruses and loss of corporate intellectual property via those personal machines being brought in. The reality of the decision is, it’s not much different than having VPN from home. I, as a developer, need a high quality workstation with lots of RAM. Developing server-based applications requires a lot of resources when testing in a development environment. When asking for a machine less than a year old with 8GB of RAM, I got the typical pushback from desktop support telling me that I shouldn’t be running server applications on a workstation. What? That’s my JOB.

One of my coworkers, a consultant, had been there over a year and already brought in his own monitors and a workstation. I followed suit and brought in my own laptop and monitors. Our productivity skyrocketed having the right equipment for the job. Yes, it’s frustrating not getting the equipment you should expect to do your job. Corporate red tape frequently stifles innovation.

There are positives and negatives for letting people bring in their own hardware. Implement controls to prevent unauthorized connections into corporate file shares and move on is what I say. Think of it this way – you’re paying top dollar to get me in as a consultant. Wouldn’t you want me to be the most effective I can be?