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IT Asset Disposition Explored

December 18, 2012

In this post, I’m going to explore the concept of IT Asset Disposition (ITAD). ITAD is a relatively new concept that has emerged over the past decade as a result of the pervasive use of electronic devices in the workplace. It is the final stage in the IT asset lifecycle in which an organization determines and executes the most appropriate method for phasing out IT equipment.

Some people define ITAD as IT asset disposal, but most people in the industry agree that disposition is the more appropriate term. The word “disposal” implies that resources are wasted, never to be used again. Disposition, on the other hand, equates to a managed retirement process.

In fact, most organizations seeking ITAD services and most ITAD service providers see IT asset disposition as the opposite of disposal – they see it as an opportunity to recover value and resources from electronics that are no longer serving their purpose. More specifically, value can be recovered in the ITAD process through the reuse, resale, or recycling of IT equipment.

All organizations have different requirements when it comes to IT asset disposition. However, ITAD generally incorporates some aspects of basic IT asset management. In fact, IT asset management and IT asset disposition are often used interchangeably. For example, serial numbers and/or asset numbers of the electronics need to be recorded before they are recycled or remarketed. This way, organizations know exactly which assets are still under their control and which assets have been released to the ITAD vendor. This information is also required by organizations requesting certificates of destruction so that each individual asset can be identified and confirmed as destroyed.

One of the most important parts of the ITAD process is determining whether or not an asset can or should be remarketed/reused. Often times, organizations will mandate that specific assets or asset types (hard drives, prototypes, branded equipment, etc.) need be destroyed and recycled. Other times, the decision to recycle or resell IT assets is is left to the ITAD vendor. Equipment that is old or beyond repair usually enters the electronics recycling process flow, and newer equipment or electronics that still possess resale value can be remarketed through various secondary channels.

Although every organization has unique requirements and every ITAD vendor has different policies and procedures, it is almost ALWAYS require that hard drives or data-containing devices are shredded for recycling or erased if they are to be remarketed. Similarly, asset tag removal is usually required as well. Data security and brand protection are of the utmost importance when a company is phasing out IT equipment and most organizations are not willing to risk their reputation or sensitive data in order to maximize the value of their retired IT assets.

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