If a quote seems too good to be true, it probably is. When selecting an ITAD partner, other factors matter more.
Conveniently located and affordable — what more can you ask for when selecting an ITAD partner for your business? A lot, actually. Companies that primarily use cost and location to decide who should handle their retired electronic assets take significant risks.
Yet, it’s not all that uncommon, and it’s easy to see why. Pouring resources into investing in new equipment is, understandably, more enticing than doing the same for assets that are heading out the backdoor. A seductively low quote tied to a promise of getting the job done, could be hard to turn down when time is short and budgets tight. If the vendor also happens to have a geographic advantage, how could you not sign on?
However, it’s essential to expand the process of selecting an IT Asset Disposition partner to factors beyond mere convenience. Here’s why.
A few words about data protection
If the high-profile data leaks of recent years taught companies anything, it’s to take data protection seriously. This, of course, also applies to end-of-life (EOL) products. The good news is we’ve come a long way since the 2005 study of 100 retired hard drives that found only two had been properly wiped clean.
But, unlike then, cloud and IoT technologies have raised the stakes and the scope . There’s now hardly any industry that does not leverage technology that stores confidential or proprietary information which demands meticulous precautions while in use — and after it goes obsolete.
Data protection standards mean your organization can be held liable not only tomorrow but years from now. As you part with data related to Patient Health Information (PHI), Personable Identifiable Information (PII), the payment card industry (PCI) data, and other sensitive information, a transfer of ownership certificate does not clear you of responsibility if it falls into the wrong hands.
Enter the issue of cost
It requires specific data sanitization methods and procedures to comply with standards such as NIST SP 800-88 and DoD 5220.22-M. (We wrote about the methods here) And that’s where cost comes in. Proper data destruction takes time and special equipment. Simple formatting and quick data deletion that can leave you vulnerable to data thieves, on the other hand, do not.
In other words, recycling costs tend to correlate with the rigorousness of asset disposition — and data cleansing in particular. Although it certainly does not mean the highest quote automatically equals superior service, it is wise to beware of quotes that come in way below the competition.
Close does not equal better
Another wise move: Avoid selecting an ITAD partner based solely on location. Again, as convenient as it may be to enlist the nearest electronics recycler, you run the risk of working with someone who does not live up to far more important criteria. The fact is location is less of a prohibitive factor than in the past. The cost of palletized shipping is typically not a budget-buster and worth it when the receiver is just the type of trusted partner that you’ve been searching for. Your partner may even offer logistics services that make pick up and transportation easy.
So what are some factors that may trump cost and location when selecting an ITAD partner?
Transparency: Can you audit the data destruction and e-waste processes? Witnessed destruction, for example, means you can have a company representative on site to ensure the data is sanitized in accordance with your contract and industry standards. (At GER, witnessed destruction follows a three-step process). You should also be able to conduct a spot check based on serial numbers to check the data destruction process for yourself.
Certificate of data destruction: A promise is not good enough. Verified data destruction is crucial. For highly regulated industries, such as telecommunication and healthcare, nothing short of data sanitization will do to comply with data privacy laws. For this purpose, ensure your prospective ITAD partner provides a certificate of data destruction with a serialized inventory of data-bearing assets.
Customization: A-la-carte restaurant meals are better than a box from the frozen section. The same truth could be applied to ITAD. A solution tailored around your needs beats having to fit into a rigid structure. Customization paves the way for a real partnership in which you can leave the problem-solving to your ITAD partner while you focus on running your business.
Certifications: Although certifications are only the beginning, they make up the foundation of ITAD. As the regulatory environment becomes more complex, certified ITAD services provide a systematic approach to managing the disposition of retired or outdated IT assets. In addition to NIST SP 800-88 mentioned earlier, an R2-certification ensures your partner meets the highest environmental and safety standards for the recycling of used electronics.
In sum, if you let cost and location overshadow other, more important, factors when selecting an ITAD partner, you could in the long run pay a high price. Inadequate sanitization, the accidental release of sensitive data, disappointing resale revenue, out-of-the-box solutions, and lack of transparency each outweighs the benefit of going with a quote that seems too good to be true.