A Comprehensive Guide to IT Asset Disposition
No matter how well we take care of our IT devices, they’re bound to slow down at some point. Whether an item is damaged or simply unable to meet your team’s needs anymore, you need to have a process in place to get rid of these items properly. You need an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) plan.
What is IT Asset Disposition (ITAD)?
IT asset disposition is the process of getting rid of your IT equipment. Of course, it’s not as simple as throwing your items away when they’re ready to be replaced – ITAD also considers financial, information security, and environmental considerations. Ideally, your ITAD plan should cover various areas, such as:
- When items should be repaired instead of replaced
- How to decommission IT equipment
- How to recycle or reuse IT devices
- How to resell or donate IT hardware
Assets to Include in Your ITAD Plan
The first step to building an effective ITAD plan is understanding which assets you should include in it. This can vary based on your organization’s IT equipment inventory, but you’ll want to include items such as:
- IT hardware assets (e.g., laptops, desktop computers, monitors)
- Kits of IT equipment accessories (e.g., mice and keyboards)
- IT asset components (e.g., chargers, HDMI cables)
- Network devices (e.g., servers, routers, modems)
6 Benefits of an Optimized IT Asset Disposition Program
You’ll inevitably need to get rid of IT devices at some point, but there are various benefits to implementing a comprehensive ITAD plan. Let’s look at 6 of the most common ones.
- Increased cost savings: When you take the time to evaluate your IT asset disposition options thoroughly, you’ll likely find opportunities for cost savings instead of simply cutting your losses. Specifically, you may find that an item can be repaired rather than replaced, or you may be able to resell them to another organization or individual.
- Better compliance and risk mitigation: When an IT asset does need to be recycled or disposed of, you’ll most likely need to engage with a third-party ITAD provider to get rid of them safely and sustainably. IT devices often contain hazardous materials that can harm the environment when they’re not disposed of properly, which is why 25 states have passed e-waste laws so far. Building your ITAD plan to remain compliant with your state’s e-waste legislation will mitigate the risk of non-compliance and environmental harm.
- Lower carbon footprint: Proper IT asset disposition not only plays a role in your e-waste compliance but also your carbon footprint. Safely recycling and disposing of your IT hardware can lower your carbon footprint, helping your company’s sustainability efforts.
- Enhanced data security: Whether you’re reselling or disposing of a device, you could still be subject to a breach if data isn’t properly erased beforehand. With a comprehensive plan in place to decommission an IT asset and delete all its data before passing it off to a third party, you’ll increase your data security.
- More accurate insights: As part of your ITAD plan, you should regularly conduct audits of your asset inventory. With up-to-date information on the status and condition of your IT devices, you’ll not only have more accurate data on hand but will also be able to better plan for future hardware investments. If you use an IT asset management solution with depreciation reporting, you’ll also be able to calculate the value of your devices to make it easier to repurpose or resell them.
The Relationship Between ITAD and Asset Lifecycle Management
In order to optimize the lifecycle of your IT assets, you must consider ITAD as a stage within that lifecycle. When you better understand how to manage the later stages of your IT hardware’s lifecycle, you’ll not only be prepared to take the necessary steps, but you also may be able to prolong the life of said hardware.
As we mentioned earlier, asset repair is one piece of your ITAD plan. With the proper plan in place to evaluate an IT device that seems to be nearing the end of its life, you may find that the asset can be repaired and is worth fixing versus replacing. When you’re able to effectively repair your assets based on your ITAD plan, you’ll, in turn, optimize your IT hardware lifecycle.
Developing Your ITAD Policy
Now that you understand the benefits of IT asset disposition and how it relates to asset lifecycle management, you’re ready to begin developing your ITAD policy. In the disposition planning phase, it’s important to write out a step-by-step guide to help your team evaluate IT assets and select the right ITAD process. Along with each ITAD process (e.g., repair, recycling, disposal), be sure to include any relevant resources, stakeholders, and chain-of-command they should be aware of.
Here are the key steps your ITAD plan should include:
- Asset repair: Before you dive into the various steps to recycle or dispose of IT assets, include a section in your ITAD plan on asset repair. This should provide tips on how to determine whether an item is worth repairing (in terms of cost and functionality) and support service information.
- Asset retrieval: Once you’ve addressed asset repairs, it is essential to cover how to retrieve or decommission an IT asset that needs disposal. This step helps mitigate risk and increases security by removing the device from your IT data center. But you should complete this step outside of peak hours to avoid potential disruption and to leave the device in a secure place for the next step of the ITAD process.
- Media cleansing: After your IT device has been decommissioned, all data within the device must be removed. Secure disposal will help you prevent unauthorized access to data if the device is reused and, in turn, help you remain compliant with relevant data privacy laws. There are 3 categories of media sanitization techniques that you can use based on your risk appetite, security classification, and your chosen disposal method.
- Asset disposal: After you’ve cleansed the IT asset’s data, the next step is disposal. Unless you lease your IT assets and can return them to your vendor, there are 3 options to dispose of your owned devices:
- Resell: After conducting a valuation of your decommissioned assets, you can resell them to another organization or person.
- Donate: Another option to reuse your decommissioned IT assets is donating them to schools or charities.
- Destroy: Whether a device is beyond reuse or your organization has a high-security categorization, you can also choose to destroy your IT assets. Typically, you’ll need to go through a third-party vendor that can either break down the device materials and recycle them or shred them and throw them away.
- Record and report updates: Once your IT assets have been disposed of, it’s important to update your records accordingly to maintain accurate data. For example, you’ll want to update the devices’ data center status without removing them from your asset management system for future auditing purposes. You’ll also want to ensure that software licenses or vendor contracts aren’t still linked to the devices. For your reporting, make sure the data and documentation are updated for any relevant financial, security, and sustainability reports.
3 ITAD Best Practices for Success
Now that you’ve developed your ITAD policy, it’s time to implement it. Let’s look at 3 essential guidelines to implement and optimize IT asset disposition.
Prioritize employee awareness and training
First and foremost, it is paramount to ensure that your employees are aware of your ITAD policy and have access to it. For those who will be in the chain of command for at least one of the ITAD procedures, you should hold a more robust training to review said processes. This will help enforce your ITAD policy across the organization for data consistency and accuracy.
Regularly assess your current IT asset inventory
Just like with asset management, it’s essential to regularly assess your IT device inventory to keep tabs on any status or condition changes. For example, you may see that a laptop’s status was changed to ‘Damaged’ but cannot find any records that it was sent for repair or disposal. Conducting audits like this monthly or quarterly will help ensure that your ITAD processes are followed and that your asset estate data is accurate.
Weight the benefits of different asset retrieval and disposal methods
As you dispose of assets under your ITAD plan, try to gauge the benefits of each asset retrieval and disposal method over time. Unless your organization is very risk-averse or has a high-security classification, consider the cost-benefit analysis of the different techniques. You may find significant ROI in one combination over the other, but, of course, be sure to continually assess the risks of these methods as well.
A comprehensive IT asset disposition plan is vital to helping your organization maintain compliance and data security. In order to keep track of the many data points throughout the ITAD process, you need an asset management platform with robust records and reporting. Asset Panda can help.
Asset Panda’s comprehensive IT asset management platform helps you track the condition of your IT assets in real-time, conduct audits, calculate depreciation, and so much more. If you’re looking for the right IT hardware management solution, request your Asset Panda demo today.