When most IT folks think of the PC lifecycle process, it typically begins with the sourcing or purchase of new equipment and ends with the replacement of old obsolete equipment. However, the tide is beginning to turn and people are realizing that the lifecycle process does not end there.
While data security risks, logistics and environmental issues often delay the proper disposal of obsolete hardware, the time wasted in tracking and storing these assets could be costing more than you realize. To avoid headaches in the future, any PC lifecycle process should include proper disposal or recycling steps for the old equipment.
Dispose, Recycle, Donate or Resell
When the time comes to add this critical step to your process, what is the best method? You can dispose of the equipment, recycle it, donate to charity or re-sell the equipment. You can also do any combination of these.
Which method is best for your company will require some research on your part. Most IT departments do not have the resources to dedicate to individual re-sales of equipment. However, it may be beneficial to look into some type of employee purchase policy or find a vendor who is willing to pay for your obsolete equipment.
You can elect, instead, to donate equipment to charity, but sometimes the paperwork involved in that process can outweigh any tax write-off benefits or goodwill it might create. Disposal is usually the first choice of many IT organizations, but that can get expensive and you need to make sure the equipment is being disposed of properly.
Recycling is fast becoming very popular. In fact, many of the major vendors, such as Dell and IBM offer recycling or value recovery services to their customers. Check with your vendor, do your homework, and select the option that is going to best work for your enterprise.
Don’t Forget to Wipe
Once you’ve selected the method, you need to be sure there are appropriate steps to wipe the software and data off the machines. Many vendors offer this as part of their re-cycling or asset recovery services. However, depending on your business and regulatory requirements this may not be an option or it may need to be a very detailed part of any asset recovery vendor contract.
Here are some of the things you need to consider for this portion of the process:
Does your company recycle software licenses?
Is there a process in place to back-up and store any company data prior to deletion?
Do you have an employee purchase policy?
Does it include verifying that any employee, who buys an old system, isn’t taking home company owned software and data?
Is your company a financial, health or other organization with strict regulatory policies on customer information and privacy?
Regardless of your situation, the information needs to be removed from each system and there should be a detailed process for accomplishing this task including certification and legal proof of destruction.
Cost Justification: Data Security is on Your Side
The whole end of life process (EOL) sounds like it could be an easy sell, but if this is your first attempt and you have a bunch of obsolete equipment lying around, you may need to be prepared to shell out some dollars to properly dispose of that first load of equipment.
While the prospect of asset value recovery sounds good on paper, the reality is, like buying a new car and reselling it later, the stuff is probably not worth as much as you think it should be. In addition, if you decide to handle the software, data removal and asset transfer portion of the process internally, it can be very resource intense and we all know that usable staff is hard to come by these days.
Be sure to account for it when doing your cost benefit analysis or you may find yourself with an approved process and a lack of resources to make it work. With companies putting so much money and emphasis on data security, it is critical those efforts not be wasted because of a poor EOL process. Data security and decreased liability will be your greatest selling points to any PC EOL proposal. In fact, a meeting with the folks in your organization that are in charge of data security may play to your advantage. If you can get them on your side, they may be able to sell the proposal for you.
The Right Choice?
So which is the right choice for your business?
As with most things, it depends on your business needs. Maybe your company is small enough to handle the asset recovery/EOL process internally using an employee purchase policy or partnering with a vendor at a per-item cost.
If you are a large company with IT resources that are spread thin, then partnering with your current PC vendor to provide a single point of contact solution may be your best bet. Maybe your company has very detailed regulatory compliance issues that require internal expertise to archive and remove the data, but want to partner with a vendor who has a proven track record of using environmentally sound practices of recycling the equipment once the data has been removed.
Talk with your vendors. They want to keep you as a customer and may have some attractive packaging solutions to offer. Take advantage of your networking resources and find out what is working and what isn’t working for other companies in your industry.
Whatever your requirements, there are an increasing number of options available for all of these needs and it’s up to you to find the right choice for your enterprise.
This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.