Selecting an ITAD Strategy – Do Goals Stop at Disposal and Compliance or Also Include Financial Return?

By Gabrielle Bové, PlanITROI

C.S. Lewis once said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

If we visualize a road to achieving a successful IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) program, then the beginning would be the minimal service required. Most IT asset managers would consider environmental compliance and data security at the beginning of the road. It’s the first thing that any IT Asset Manager needs to consider when disposing of equipment and is almost exclusively associated with recycling.

The journey into most IT manager’s disposal efforts often begins with the realization that they have no idea how much equipment they actually have on hand to process, what types of equipment they have, what condition each unit was in, or where all the equipment is located. This lack of planning is the fuel that ignites most companies’ reactive process. IT Managers who are receiving bills for their recycling have barely embarked on the road to achieving a satisfying solution for their retired IT assets and are often acting purely out of the necessity to get rid of old equipment.

At the other end of the road are IT asset disposition firms that focus on value recovery and giving a financial return back to their clients instead of bills. This End-of-the-Road Nirvana means that dealing with environmental and financial susceptibility doesn’t require foregoing any type of financial return. By establishing best practices for a forward-looking ITAD program, organizations can reach the conclusion that being compliant with environmental and data security requirements as well as realizing a significant ROI (Return on Investment) are NOT mutually exclusive.

Choosing a Camp

The two ends of the ITAD road lead IT managers to the question, “Where do you want to set up camp?” The answer depends on the priorities of the organization and more specifically, the IT department. If an IT Manager solely wants to get rid of the retired equipment, making sure that all compliance issues are met and not see any truly large bills, then the short trip to recycling may be the best solution. The value recovered from the precious metals found inside laptops, desktops, and LCDs should help offset any recycling and logistics costs. However, many organizations are doing themselves a disservice by stopping there, allowing valuable revenue to go unclaimed.

How far an IT manager wants to go on the road towards receiving a financial return may depend on what kind of assets they are retiring. Laptops, desktops, tablets, LCDs, and smart phones all retain varying degrees of residual value for a number of years, but if the majority of your equipment is 7 year-old desktops and some printers, there may not be any value left. Organizations with a larger inventory of laptops and tablets should consider finding an ITAD vendor that focuses on remarketing and asset value recovery. An ISO certified Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher will not only fix any non-working components and make your IT equipment look like new, but by installing a new operating system and retail packaging, your assets would be retail-ready and command the highest resale value.

ITAD Vendor as an Asset Lifecycle Participant

IT Asset Managers should seek to understand how ITAD services providers add value to the process. An ITAD vendor that takes a proactive role can start as early as the planning process for asset acquisition, and continue through the product lifecycle and into asset disposition. As an advisor, the ITAD vendor can help make refurbishing decisions that preserve maximum resale value. By remarketing client’s IT assets through retail channels, the ITAD vendor specializing in asset value recovery helps clients make more money from IT asset disposition while fully meeting environmental and data security standards.

In spite of the fact that there is no “Blue Book” for IT equipment like there is for a car, there are ways to gather the information necessary for fully informed and financially sound ITAD decisions. For instance, a first stop may be to complete an Inventory Portfolio Analysis with an ITAD vendor or with internal staff. An Inventory Portfolio Analysis captures the types of assets, models, processor speeds and anticipated retirement dates up to five years into the future with a schedule by year. This data helps keep ITAD as part of the planning process before new purchasing decisions are made. Also, it gives finance departments the ability to determine the asset value at the end of its life and establish a depreciation schedule.

An Inventory Portfolio Analysis leads to understanding the condition the equipment should be in when it leaves your ITAD provider’s dock. There will be a vast difference between product that leaves a recycler and value-add ITAD vendors. If your vendor packages the value-added product in retail-ready packaging, you can assume that they are returning the maximum ROI to you.

If your road to achievement includes environmental compliance, data security AND a financial return, keep accelerating until you reach your destination. With an IT asset value recovery specialist as your guide, IT departments can be more proactive and less reactive and can not only make the ITAD process easier for IT Managers, but enable IT departments to attain greater ROI.