The Highest Net Return on Retired Assets

By Paul Baum

Take a moment to consider the priorities of your organization’s mission statement and goals. Undoubtedly, you will find a few consistencies with the themes of accountability, profitability, and sustainability represented in some fashion. These key goals should be the same elements that drive your IT Asset Disposition Process. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) used these three guiding principles to reset the direction of their own IT Asset Disposition strategy. Here is a look at their story.

Pharmaceutical giant GSK found themselves in a common situation. They were trapped in a messy disposition process that lacked internal support, was underfinanced and did not provide a return on investment. The different stakeholders internally including procurement, compliance and the sustainability Team all had their own scorecard for success. They also struggled with trying to manage multiple providers that offered various levels of service and support. It was time for a change. An audacious and aggressive plan was undertaken. Within one year’s time, GSK wanted to standardize a global process for IT Asset Management that would increase their current return on investment while maintaining their unwavering need for data security and environmentally sound practices.

After a rigorous selection process, GSK partnered with one ITAD company to manage this endeavor. The ambitious project was co-managed by cross functional teams at both companies and that one-year goal was achieved through the dedicated work of this joint Team. This ongoing partnership has resulted in a global program that yields millions of dollars back to GSK while maintaining total data security and environmental responsibility. GSK was recognized for this program receiving the InfoWorld Green 15 Award for the focus on sustainability and to date, the only time an ITAD program has been presented with this honor.

So how did they do it?

GlaxoSmithKline chose the right partner.

Choosing the “right” partner can often sound cliché. But in the world of ITAD with its many complexities and regulations, this relationship is crucial. You truly need a partner – not a vendor or service provider if you value the key areas mentioned above. Here are some basic questions that you need to ask and receive clear answers to when looking for the right partner:

  • Are my data bearing assets being managed in a compliant manner by a certified company? Has this company ever been involved in a security breach or had a data security violation?
  • Are there clear environmental standards in writing that are strictly adhered to during the disposition or recycling process?
  • Where and to who are my assets being sold?
  • How are my assets being refurbished?
  • Can my vendor provide all of the requisite reporting needed to mitigate any and all financial and data liabilities?

To understand the answers to some of the questions, we’ll take a deeper dive into some of these key areas.

The net return from your asset disposition may be one of your organization’s highest priorities and that is to be expected but that should be weighted in absolute balance with the other vital components of data security and environmental responsibility. Maintaining an impeccable data security reputation is important to every company at every level. It is imperative to have a partner with a proven and clean track record that is industry certified. This company has to wipe data bearing assets to Department of Defense Standards and shred drives that fail any aspect of the data erasure process. A data breach is the last problem an IT asset manager will ever want to face. Any level of breach can bring a myriad of legal, public relations and financial headaches. That last point is important to remember- a serious enough data breach would prove disastrous for your organization’s bottom line. If you are trusting your company’s reputation and potentially its future to an outsourced vendor, you better be 100% confident in their abilities and their track record in this area.

The same stringent approach should be followed when thinking about environmental responsibility. The image of a laptop with your logo on it sitting in a landfill overseas could do irreparable damage to your brand’s image. It would be a PR nightmare. Your vendor should have clearly written and auditable environmental policies following processes that includes a commitment to no-landfill and no-incineration in accordance with either R2 or e-Stewards standards.

Uncovering and recovering the highest net return on your re-marketable assets can be achieved through experience and understanding the state of sales channels within the secondary market today. Not all channels are created equal! Most companies whether they be ITAD companies, recyclers or other service providers sell retired assets on the wholesale market. This is not optimal to anyone.

The most profitable approach for maximizing returns on assets are achieved when these assets are sold through Premium Closed Retailers. Best Buy, and premium market places like Amazon and others along with Consumer to Consumer Channels like eBay yields the highest sale prices. To sell on those channels, your partner will need to have a proven refurbishment process to cosmetically improve and upgrade the device to acceptable market standards. For PC’s, choosing a proven partner that is a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) – not just a registered refurbisher is important. Authorized Refurbishers are audited by Microsoft directly.

Transparent and real time reporting on where and to whom your assets are being sold is also an important piece of this story. Having access to financial reporting, sales data, recycling reports and certificates of data sanitization and destruction should be readily available to all stakeholders. This provides confidence and comfort throughout the entire cycle of disposition.

When considering adding or changing ITAD vendors, you can reference the success story of GSK. Your ITAD process does not have to be another expense but truly can be a source of revenue if you follow a thoughtful and proven approach. Remember – ask the important questions about sales channels, the refurbishment process, data security and environmental responsibility. If you do follow these steps, your ITAD story could be used at the 2019 Spring Ace as the new exemplary model.

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