Thursday, 27 September 2012

The six myths of IT end-of-life decisions – ‘don’t worry about it now’ and similar mistakes

Continuing from yesterday’s blog, here’s the other three misconceptions about how to handle IT equipment no longer required:

4. The financial considerations of disposal need only be considered at the end of life of equipment.

Many companies haven’t thought about what to do with their IT equipment when it’s no longer needed for its original purpose. But there’s a need to budget and plan in advance, otherwise piles of used machines can mount up, generating transportation and storage costs.

There are various disposal options, such as returning it to a reseller or manufacturer, donating to a good cause or selling directly, on the internet for example. But even then the environmental, data and other issues of selling on equipment make it a business process decision and the cost needs to be accounted for in the expected return from the sale.

So whatever the means of disposal, there needs to be a longer term programme in place around end-of-life costs and equipment value. But often companies don’t realise there is any remaining asset value or how to get at it. In fact end-of-life considerations should be a factor in product and supplier decisions at the equipment procurement stage.

5. IT disposal only needs to be considered when you are ready to upgrade.

Disposal of end-of-life equipment is clearly something that can’t be left until the last minute. Equipment may have to be transported and stored, donated, recycled or resold. Processes need to be in place to clean data, potential value has to be assessed, sales channels decided, and budget and resources allocated. To maximise return, be it financial or philanthropic, and minimise cost, it can’t be left to the last minute.

6. Asset Recovery Services are for PC users only

The refurbishment market is structured around PCs – a lot of vendors are primarily PC-based, so that’s their focus. But PCs are very much commodity devices now and most manufacturers will also take back higher value equipment from the data centre. It’s a more complex process because enterprise IT equipment has to be recovered from the field, data more effectively wiped and so on.

HP, for example, will take anything from hand-held devices to supercomputers, whether it’s their own equipment or not. By volume, the products the company gets back are roughly split 50/50 between PCs and other equipment, but there’s more value in the enterprise/data centre products. Having said that, according to Jim O’Grady there’s greater demand than supply in the refurbished PC market - there is an insatiable appetite for legacy PCs.


Review:  So, at least in theory, there’s no reason why a company cannot achieve a better environmental and more cost-effective outcome from end-of-life equipment than the six myths suggest. All it really needs is planning.

But does it really work that way? Is refurbishment mainly an option for corporates with large IT contracts? What about smaller companies?

What’s your experience? Comments welcome.

© The Green IT Review

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