A Service View on Selecting an ITAD Vendor – How to Choose the Proper ITAD Company

By John Spagnuolo

It is no secret that the days of IT assets being hauled to a dumpster or stuffed in a closet are long gone. Not only is the proper disposal of IT assets integral to minimizing the risks from those assets, but it is also essential to getting the maximum return on your retired IT components. ITAD, or IT Asset Disposition, is a relatively new industry which is booming thanks to concerns about data security, the environment, compliance and risk management, and the ability to recoup technology investment dollars. But, with many companies claiming to offer ITAD services, how can you separate the ITAD zeros from the ITAD superheroes?

Finding the superheroes requires asking a great many questions about how the provider conducts business and how those processes suit your company’s needs. To get you started, consider the following categories of inquiry.

1: Is Your Data Safe?

The answer to this question includes asking for the details on their processes, allowing you to judge their knowledge and willingness to cooperate. Reputable ITAD providers will freely share their methods of data eradication. They should welcome the opportunity for a touring of their processing center and offer the ability to witness the destruction of hard disk drives either in person or via web video. Asking in-depth questions is also necessary, so when interviewing potential ITAD providers, ask questions such as:

  • “What do you do with hard drives that fail to wipe?”
  • “Are you [R2, RIO, ISO /9001/14001, 27001] compliant?”
  • “What is your exact process for removing the assets from our facilities?”
2: Do They Assist in Special Projects?

The breadth of services offered in addition to the actual destruction can be a major factor in choosing the right provider for your organization. Aside from offering asset disposal, find an ITAD partner who is able to assist in other areas of ITAM. Do they offer services such as onsite data sanitization, asset inventory, lease return management, assistance with data center dismantles or consulting and process improvement? This broad array of services will not only be convenient but it also ensures that they are well rounded in the realm of ITAM.

3: Are Detailed Reports Provided?

When it comes to getting rid of devices like mobile phones that can carry sensitive and sometimes highly regulated data, the promises of the ITAD partner aren’t enough to satisfy the regulatory compliance needs of your organization. Questions have to be asked about reporting to provide the necessary verifications as well as reports to submit for compliance governance. Choose an ITAD firm that is able to supply meticulous records from receipt to disposal – by device. With auditable verification and strict security practices that include GPS tracking of logistics protected transportation, and a documented chain-of-custody, you’ll know the physical location of your assets. This way, you can be confident that your data will remain protected throughout the process.

The Harvard Business Review highlights the importance of not being complacent about successful tracking, stating:

“At a high-level, organizations might seem to do an adequate job with chain-of-custody. On average 97.2% assets were tracked.

Detailed tracking data, however, reveals a troubling fact: four out of five corporate IT asset disposal projects had at least one missing asset. More disturbing is the fact that 15% of these “untracked” assets are devices potentially bearing data such as laptops, computers, and servers.”

4: Do Services Maximize the IT Investment?

IT asset disposition has become much more than just choosing disposal options such as recycling. With many corporations upgrading their IT hardware every 3-4 years, much of today’s retired IT has residual value. The residual value can be re-sold or re-utilized within the organization. ITAD providers offer a number of options that maximize the value of the retired IT investment such as charitable donation, employee purchase programs, customer money back programs from recycling revenue and reselling of IT assets.

The bottom line is that you need to find an ITAD partner that does more than just throw your IT hardware away to ensure you get your money’s worth while minimizing the risks from the continual flow of electronic assets out of the organization.

About the Author

John Spagnuolo is the General Manager, Asset Recover for Re-Source Partners Asset Management, Inc.