Six tips for safely choosing an IT asset disposal partner

As the burgeoning IT asset disposal market grows, best practices are emerging to help companies choose the right service provider.

Beyond that, you want to be sure there's strict security in place from the time your gear is collected to the time the machines are ultimately recycled. Otherwise, it's entirely possible a machine or two might end up stolen at any time after it's in your partner's (or your partner's partner's) possession.

3. Get the most for your money. Those machines you have piled up in the spare cubicle or warehouse may very well have market value, depending, of course, on how old they are, what condition they're in, and so forth. Thus, it may be in your organization's best interest to work with ITAD providers who can help you figure out the value of the gear, then sell it for you for a negotiated price.

Companies such as HP, in fact, will go so far as to sort through all of your end-of-life gear for you, if you wish -- even if it's spread out at different facilities around the globe. "We'll give it a complete audit test, and tell the customer what they've got and what shape it's in," says Jim O'Grady, director of global lifecycle management for HP Financial Services.

The payback can be significant, too, notes Intechra's Slack. "Clients that are regularly refreshing their assets - on a three-year refresh cycle -- are typically going to get back more than others," he says.

4. Find a provider with a useful Web toolbox. Companies should consider whether would-be ITAD providers have Web apps through which they can assess the company's services, notes IDC's Daoud. "It enables a client company to assess what kinds of services the provider offers, what is costs, and the potential revenue that a service could provide to them," he says. "You go to a private Web site and can enter all your details of the products you're going to retire. It will give you costs assessment and revenue analysis."

5. Consider what brands you use. If your company only uses one vendor's brand of hardware, you might find benefit in employing said vendors ITAD's services. (That is, if the company meets your other needs.) The benefit here is, you're likely going to be able to negotiate better payback for your gear if you take credit toward new gear instead of cash. Moreover, it could prove convenient to have just one trusted vendor handling as much of your IT gear needs as possible, from delivering new gear to tracking what you have to collecting the old and properly disposing of it.

If, on the other hand, you have a heterogeneous IT hardware environment, it would behoove you to go with an ITAD provider that can handle it all. Companies such as Intechra and Redemtech -- which don't sell hardware -- can certainly handle all types of hardware. According to HP's O'Grady, though, "you'll find very few vendors in the market that are able to cross all technology lines."

6. Factor in scale. Depending on the size of your organization, some ITAD provider simply may not be able to meet your needs. For example, Intechra has sites throughout the United States but currently none abroad. IBM and HP, meanwhile, do operate worldwide; Redemtech has operations in Canada and Western Europe.

As noted by Intechra's white paper, "A provider with many facilities not only reduces the cost of transportation, but also assures the capacity to meet your asset-processing needs wherever your business is concentrated."

Although the above advice should prove valuable as you search for the ideal ITAD partner, I'll readily acknowledge that it's by no means comprehensive. For more information on the subject, you could check out IDC's report "2008 Assessment of US IT Asset Disposal Service Providers," available via the IDC site. You might also download Intechra's white paper "Beyond the Basics: 6 Critical Requirements for Selecting the Right ITAD Provider" [PDF].

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