A Primer on ITAD: What It Is and How It Works
Replacing and remarketing outdated IT equipment isn’t as simple as plugging in the new technology and putting the old hardware on Craigslist. There are many considerations, such as confidential device data, environmental hazards, and logistics that all require a well-planned strategy.
Fortunately, a comprehensive, step-by-step process exists to rid your business of unwanted IT assets. It’s called IT Asset Disposition (ITAD).
WhatIs.com, an online glossary catered towards the technology industry, defines ITAD as the “disposal of obsolete or unwanted equipment in a safe and ecologically-responsible manner.”
Other key functions of ITAD providers include minimizing costs, maximizing returns on remarketed technology and helping keep sensitive data safe and secure.
From end to end, the most complete ITAD processes include the following, fully-auditable and trackable steps:
- Deinstallation of assets
- Data destruction and sanitization
- Asset refurbishment
- Asset remarketing
- Lease return management
- Disposition and recycling
- Reporting and certification
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Deinstallation of assets
Once your new IT assets arrive, the old ones need to be taken offline and decoupled from the corporate infrastructure. This is an involved activity with a technical, step-by-step process. Each data-bearing device must be completely uninstalled, stripped of its network access and meticulously accounted for.
Data destruction and sanitization
This is probably the most crucial step in the ITAD process. Every single data-bearing device — from PCs and tablets to printers and fax machines—must have its data wiped. Whether this data removal takes place onsite or at a remote facility is something to work out with your provider as there are several time, cost, and in some cases, regulatory considerations to account for.
Clearing data is especially important for those working in heavily regulated industries with very strict data privacy compliance in place, such as financial services and healthcare. Whether via software solutions or shredding the device (and the associated hard drive), data must be removed from every device. The best ITAD providers use Department of Defense-rated data wiping software and/or hard drive shredders that ensure no sensitive data is leaked.
Getting your IT assets from Point A to Point B is a big part of the ITAD process. You should take care to use a provider that has been fully vetted, and employ the same due diligence for any downstream logistics partners. Make sure to request an auditable report of transport and receipt of the assets you’re getting rid of.
Once your unneeded assets have been data sanitized and shipped, it’s time to explore the areas where you can remarket your used devices. Good ITAD partners will have several outlets for remarketing, thus maximizing your remarketing value. Again, a reputable ITAD provider will include reporting for any remarketed or resold assets, so you can gain visibility into how much money you’re getting back.
Lease return management
This phase of the ITAD process is targeted at organizations that lease some or all their IT equipment. Working with a single provider that can handle both procurement of IT assets and ITAD will streamline the lease returns process. The ITAD specialist will most likely help customers with refurbishment, lease counseling, end of life services and avoidance of lessor “charge back.”
Disposition and recycling
Once the applicable assets have been uninstalled, data sanitized, earmarked for resale and shipped, the remaining unwanted IT assets must be handled. This is where good ITAD providers really shine — in the safe and environmentally-sensitive disposal and recycling of those assets. E-waste is a global problem that continues to worsen. One of the primary goals of a reputable ITAD provider is to demand and enforce the proper handling of e-waste.
Reporting and certification
The previous aspects make up the bulk of the ITAD process, but it’s in auditability and reporting that organizations gain peace of mind the job has been accomplished correctly. ITAD providers should provide verifiable certificates and reports that each phase of the ITAD process has been completed. A rule of thumb for ITAD: Get it in writing!
Did we miss a step? Do you have a different experience with your recent ITAD project? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.