Small adjustments to your asset disposition management can have a big impact

It doesn’t take much to safeguard your retired IT assets. Yet, mistakes happen. Whether they stem from a lack of knowledge of proper IT asset disposition management or a “let’s-hope-for-the-best” approach, missteps can be costly.

The recent class-action lawsuit against Morgan Stanley for careless disposition of customer data illustrates how much is at stake. In addition to the undisclosed settlement, the federal government also hit the financial services giant with a $60 million fine. Authorities argued the company “engaged in unsafe or unsound practices that were part of a pattern of misconduct” related to asset disposition. 

So, what are some important steps to getting asset disposition management right? Here are 5 mistakes you can easily avoid by partnering with a certified ITAD expert. 

To optimize asset management disposition, eliminate these 5 costly mistakes

1. Failing to scrutinize vendors. 

E-waste has a devastating impact on developing nations. In the unregulated environment of third-world countries, issues like child labor, exposed toxins, and air pollution from unsafe recycling practices abound. While unscrupulous third-party service providers bear part of the blame, you risk bearing much of the cost when the scandal becomes a fact. 

Every responsible organization needs to ensure their provider does not ship assets to unregulated facilities overseas. An R2-certified recycling partner will have your back — and verified adherence to sustainable electronics recycling. 

2. Doing it yourself. 

The assumption in-house IT asset disposition services (ITAD) is the most financially responsible option fails to take several variables into consideration. For instance, a poorly designed DIY asset disposition program can do serious damage to your corporate risk mitigation strategy. 

In fact, each phase — tracking, decommissioning, logistics, data sanitization, resale, recycling — requires, if not specialized equipment, specific processes and deep market expertise. But few companies have the internal resources or knowledge to manage applicable laws and regulations. Nor do they know how to optimize value recovery, sanitize data, and improve sustainability — all while trying to reduce costs. And, when resources are in short supply, mistakes are harder to avoid. 

3. Leaving data intact. 

The market for data destruction services can be challenging to navigate. For example, the myriad of methods to choose from does not necessarily comply with every aspect of NIST 800 data destruction. (NIST is the most widely used data sanitization standard required by the federal government) 

To complicate matters, you can actually erase data, using all the right mechanisms, and still not meet audit-proof sanitization standards. Again, if you need an illustration of the potential consequences of inadequate data destruction, look at Morgan Stanley. 

4. Losing track of assets. 

A pillar of asset management disposition is tracking and reporting. But systematically monitoring your assets shouldn’t start at the very end of their lifecycle. Your organization should be able to account for every single asset and its status at all times. 

This holds true while the assets are in use. And it also applies after they leave your facility. Do you know which assets were destroyed, refurbished and resold, or recycled? Each piece of sanitized equipment requires its own certificate, including information like the device serial number and the method and tools used. 

5. Ruining value.

Your asset management disposition strategy has a big impact on returns. Something as simple as careless handling — tossing laptops into gaylord boxes, for example — can take a good chunk out of resale value. Similarly, pursuing shredding or degaussing when regulations do not call for it, means you miss out on resale opportunities. 

Objectives and goals, rather than old habits, should drive disposition decisions. It may pay to re-evaluate the data destruction options that you currently default to. Why destroy an asset if you don’t need to?

Final word

Even the best organizations make mistakes. Most can, however, be easily avoided. Assess your asset disposition management strategy regularly to identify the areas that leave room for improvement.

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 Make sure to read:

For optimal IT asset recovery, consider alternatives to degaussing

Evaluating ITAD companies and other lessons from the Morgan Stanley data breach 

6 easy ways to increase IT asset recovery value

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