Nine Questions to Secure ITAD – Don’t Go it Alone: How to Select an IT Asset Disposition Vendor

By Steve Skurnac, Sims Recycling Solutions

The arrival of the first quarter of the business year presents a perfect opportunity for IT asset managers to take a fresh look at existing corporate IT asset disposition policies and to fix kinks that cause process bottlenecks, fail to take advantage of cost-saving opportunities or miss the mark environmentally. One aspect of your ITAD strategy that requires regular assessment is the vendor selection process because the success of every ITAD program depends on teaming with thoroughly vetted vendors. This year, resolve to get your company’s IT asset disposition vendor selection process off on the right foot by asking the right questions.

Provider as Partner

Although aspects of your company’s IT asset disposition process may be carried out in-house, no company can accomplish all the tasks associated with a formal ITAD strategy on its own. This has made ITAD service providers important partners in managing the lifecycle of IT equipment. In fact, some IT asset managers have come to rely on their ITAD vendors to help them understand the increasingly complex maze of state, federal and international environmental and privacy regulations that govern IT asset disposal. These legislative directives, plus the costly consequences for noncompliance, make it imperative to conduct vendor due diligence.

Knowing the answers to the questions below will serve as a roadmap when navigating the vendor selection process and give you the information necessary to choose a vendor that will allow your company to achieve its unique economic, geographic, security and sustainability objectives.

  1. Does the vendor “own the lifecycle” or rely on subcontractors? A vendor that offers a complete range of asset disposition services internally will eliminate reliance on subcontractors to process your redundant electronics. Selecting a vendor that provides an unbroken chain of custody from collection to destruction of your equipment improves accountability, increases security and streamlines reporting.
  2. Can the vendor ensure data security? Data eradication is an essential step of the disposition process that not only eliminates potential privacy and security breaches, but also protects a company’s brand and reputation. Look for an ITAD vendor that offers NIST-compliant data destruction and validation of that destruction, especially if IT assets will be redeployed or resold.
    1. Depending on your company’s requirements, you may want to locate a vendor that can provide on-site degaussing and hard drive destruction, hard drive shredding, witnessed destruction and certificates of data and physical destruction. National Association for Information Destruction-certified (NAID) vendors have implemented the latest standards that regulate information destruction.
  3. Does the vendor have the technical expertise to process a wide range of electronic equipment? Laptops, desktops and printers may be the most common electronics that require end-of-life management, but your company may have unique equipment that requires special handling such as CRT monitors, data center assets or scientific instruments. If this is the case, make sure the vendor accepts these items.
  4. Can the vendor provide services tailored to your company’s needs? Look for a vendor that can develop a customized disposition plan and offers the additional services you may require, such as collection and transportation support; product inventory, including serial number capture; product tracking; product refurbishment and resale; and recycling and component recovery.
    1. If you intend to rely on your ITAD vendor for transportation logistics, make sure you have full knowledge of their practices. Determine if drivers are vendor employees who have been carefully screened, if vehicles are sealed and tracked, and if shipments go directly from your site to the vendor’s. Transported Asset Protection Association-certified vendors ensure secure handling, warehousing and transportation of equipment.
  5. Is the vendor certified? If your company is dedicated to achieving zero landfill status or other sustainability goals, then you will want to seek out a certified vendor that can recycle raw materials from IT assets in compliance with local and national regulations. A certified vendor is committed to operating in accordance with rigorous electronics recycling industry best practices that govern environmental, health and safety and security management standards (R2, e-Stewards, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001).
  6. Does the vendor have the financial footing to protect customers from potential liability? A good indicator of a vendor’s ability to do this is evidence of general and excess liability insurance as well as pollution liability and cyber security insurance. An insured vendor is able to protect customers from and manage the potential financial risks associated with disposing of IT assets.
  7. Where does the vendor do business? A vendor operating a network of strategically located wholly owned facilities will be able to process your company’s decommissioned assets no matter where your company does business and limit the need to use partners to perform core services. Working with a vendor that has sizeable geographic spread can have the benefit of standardizing processes, decreasing security risks, simplifying logistics, minimizing freight costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  8. With whom does the vendor do business? If your vendor uses partners to perform requested services, then who a vendor does business with becomes just as important as how the vendor does business. Request the names and locations of a vendor’s partners. Verify whether the vendor conducts physical audits to ensure its partners are operating to the same rigorous environmental, health and safety and security standards established by the vendor.
  9. Does the vendor allow tours? Even if a potential vendor meets all the above criteria, conduct a site visit to see the facility size, examine the recycling equipment and evaluate the physical security measures in place. Find out if employees are background screened and drug tested. Request a list of current customers and contact them.

Asking the right questions now will ensure the success of your IT asset disposition program later. When done right, working with a responsible and reputable ITAD vendor not only helps a company simplify the disposition process and realize benefits to the bottom-line, it also demonstrates a company’s commitment to sustainability through responsible resource management.

That is why it is important for your company to reach an informed decision about the vendor that will manage the disposition of its retired electronics and to locate one that not only provides the necessary services and technical expertise, but offers guidance about electronics recycling, asset remarketing, domestic and international data security laws and e-waste disposal regulations.