Centralized ITAD Works – Continue the Centralization through Asset Retirement

By Michael Profit, Arrow-Intechra, LLC

The benefits of a centralized IT asset management program are well understood and widely accepted. They include: improved decision-making based on reliable information, efficiency gains from standardized processes and better risk-management. Some IT managers might not fully appreciate how a centralized IT asset disposition program delivers many of the same benefits and that carrying centralization of ITAM through disposition is a smart choice.

The Complexity of Asset Retirement Data

Capturing and compiling detailed information for all retired assets is virtually impossible unless ITAD is centrally managed. Otherwise, the collection of data at the individual asset level is likely to be inconsistent – if the data is collected at all. To provide meaningful information, detailed information for each retired asset should be collected: serial number, asset tag number, verification that a data wipe occurred, configuration, condition, disposition (destination) of the unit, and the value recovered. Collecting this data is the only way to create transparency into the final disposition of these assets, an important and ongoing responsibility of the IT Asset Manager.

These complex data-capture requirements necessitate consistent processes and tools. Outsourcing ITAD to a single vendor to cover multiple regions will not guarantee consistency or transparency. Some ITAD vendors rely on a network of providers that may or may not deliver the required levels of standardization and integration.

New Opportunities from Data Capture

Implementing a system for capturing and centrally managing the data will enable IT asset managers to discover several new opportunities including:

  • Reduce capital expenditures: Analyzing technology levels retired by different internal groups within a company can uncover opportunities for redeployment.
  • Minimize total cost of ownership: Tracking value-recovery trends across time and different groups may alter refresh cycles.
  • Maximize value recovery: Monitoring value-recovery per-unit averages may reveal the removal of components and stockpiling of parts by certain groups.
  • Improve security: Uncovering assets failing to enter the ITAD process may identify asset retirement policy gaps.

Convenient access to usable retired asset data can be a powerful and valuable benefit of centralized ITAD. As demonstrated by the opportunities listed above, centralized ITAD helps achieve immediate goals such as improve security as well as delivering long term benefits from enhanced strategic decision making. Centralized ITAD also enhances the value that can be delivered to other departments and other processes. For instance, if retired asset data is consistent and reliable, automated data exports can be sent to fixed asset systems. Also, an increasing number of compliance audits are focusing on asset retirement processes. In many cases, the auditors require documentation that specific assets were retired properly. Responding to these audit inquiries can be much easier when a centralized ITAD program is in place.

Selecting the Right ITAD Vendor

Given the complexity of the process, permitting or requiring individual locations or departments to develop their own ITAD processes, or to select their own ITAD vendor, is inefficient and presents risks. A significant issue seen with the decentralized or local approach to ITAD is the loss of focus on the issues that are important to the organization as a whole. With the decentralized approach, ITAD usually focuses on cost and convenience. At a corporate level, ITAD is viewed in terms of a risk mitigation and brand protection strategy. Executives are concerned about the increasing costs of data breaches and are expecting ITAD to be fully engaged in reducing that risk, protecting the organization’s reputation or brand. Executives are also increasing their focus on regulatory enforcement for the same reasons. Every ITAD program should be on security and brand protection, not on cost avoidance.

Selecting an ITAD vendor is rarely an easy process, especially when so many operators are not authentic providers of the services described here. There are hundreds of vendors claiming to provide security-focused ITAD services. However, very few of them have the systems and processes in place to back up their service claims. Centralizing vendor selection facilitates the building of an internal knowledge base, making it easier to separate the competent ITAD providers from the ones making baseless claims. It can be very difficult to even know what questions to ask or how to identify red flags without the experience of seeing multiple ITAD operations in person and truly understanding the many vulnerability points.

In environments where IT asset management and ITAD are both centralized, there are additional opportunities to coordinate the two and achieve even more synergies. Transforming ITAD from a decentralized local process to one that is managed centrally can yield a wide range of benefits including cost efficiencies and improved service levels. Many of these benefits are similar to the ones realized when IT asset management evolves to a centralized process. The benefits of centralizing IT asset management have become clear as the practice has become more accepted. Integrating ITAD centralization expands on that practice to fully protect the company and improve its processes.