To mitigate corporate risk, steer clear of do-it-yourself asset disposition 

At first glance, DIY asset disposition may seem tempting. Your IT team can handle it, right? Since we’re writing this post, you can guess the answer is far from as straightforward as some companies believe.

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

DIY asset disposition: Evaluate the risks

Lack of expertise

To fully understand the scope of an effective ITAD strategy, consider, for example, all the pieces required to get it right and ask yourself whether your team has the bandwidth to take it on.  

  • Tracking 
  • Decommissioning
  • Logistics and Transportation
  • Data sanitization
  • Reuse
  • Resale
  • Recycling

Each phase requires, if not specialized equipment, specific processes and deep market expertise. Few companies have the internal resources or knowledge to manage applicable laws and regulations, optimize value recovery, sanitize data, and improve sustainability — all while trying to reduce costs. 

For a busy IT team, day-to-day security and maintenance to keep everything running typically take precedence over end-of-life asset management. If your company has a growing stockpile of obsolete equipment awaiting disposal, you’re far from alone. But when ITAD is not the primary focus, problems inevitably surface.

Costly Mishaps

That stockpile we just mentioned is a recipe for trouble, especially if devices are not securely stored and regularly inventoried. A single device adrift — whether by careless handling or theft — puts your brand, operations, and, potentially, customers at risk.  The same goes for inadequate sanitization, itself a complex undertaking governed by a myriad of ever-changing local, state, and federal regulations and industry-specific guidelines. 

For companies that end up on the wrong side of the law, the fines and financial fallout can be significant. The average cost of a data breach in the United States comes in at $8.64 million, according to a 2020 report from IBM. Tellingly, it takes an average of 280 days for a breach to be discovered and contained, adding untold amounts of stress to overworked IT teams. 

In other words, the desire to save money can quickly backfire if your company is found to be non-compliant. This, of course, also applies to violations of environmental regulations for e-waste disposal.

Lackluster value recovery

Test. Repair. Resell. The three-step process is indeed a cornerstone of ITAD and the circular economy. Companies that have perfected the art of reuse and know how to leverage the secondary markets, retired IT assets can become both a money-saver and a welcome revenue stream. But how do you optimize the results? Each step demands the right tools, systems, standards, and staff with the skills to uphold quality and consistency at every turn. If the expertise is lacking, pitfalls mount. 

  • Testing: Testing requires, besides specialized tools and standard procedures, meticulous records and reports. A company that can’t identify where assets are located can run into compliance issues. 
  • Repair: Do you have the right components on hand? If not, relatively easy fixes may go undone, wasting the assets. Again, documentation is crucial to maintain compliance. 
  • Resale: Lack of access to the best and established resale channels can hurt companies that pursue DIY asset disposition. Even companies that have resale channels in place or auction off their used equipment do not always have the latest information on fair market value. For lack of other options, some companies simply give away their assets to employees or donate them to non-profit organizations. And, just like with the preceding steps, resale comes with compliance risks. 

End-of-life issues

When assets can’t be reused or resold, the final phase ensues: salvaging and recycling. And while this phase lets you close the lifecycle circle in an environmentally friendly manner, it also comes with inherent risks that any DIY asset disposition program needs to take into consideration.

Component salvaging: Does your team know how to disassemble an asset without damaging any salvageable components? Do you know how to test, store, and track the components? Do you know how to keep your team safe from hazardous materials while performing the work?

Recycling: Do you have internal procedures to handle hazardous or regulated materials? Have you ensured your downstream partners are certified and in good standing? Are you in full control of local, state, and federal regulations for electronic waste? How do you verify your IT assets actually are recycled rather than illegally landfilled?

These days, as ITAD has grown increasingly complex, more businesses hire trusted partners to do the work for them. While DIY asset disposition can put your company at risk, the right partnership could become one of your greatest assets. 

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