After years of working in a position I no longer enjoyed, I decided to make a career change. When the day came to pack up my belongings and start out on a fresh adventure with a new employer, I wondered what would become of my laptop and desktop computer. As I turned in my belongings, I noticed a large supply closet overflowing with older equipment that had built up over time. In just about every position I’ve held, I remember some sort of IT graveyard, where servers, computers, and even printers were stored at the end of their lives. Some were small and almost non-existent, while others filled rooms. This begged the question; what happens to all expired IT hardware?
Many organizations may not realize the importance of properly retiring and disposing of their hardware and software assets. They also may not realize they could be paying for hardware and software not being used. How? First, businesses are required to pay Personal Property Tax based on the fair market value of their personal assets, and that includes any property not currently being used, placed in storage, or held for sale.¹
The taxable amount varies from state to state, but usually falls within seven to ten percent of the value of the hardware. This may not seem substantial at first, however, when dealing with expensive equipment like servers, you could be wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The reality is, organizations could eliminate large expenses by simply throwing their unused IT assets away! Still, IT needs to be careful when disposing of their hardware assets to ensure information security.
Second, businesses are prone to pay for hardware and software not properly offboarded when an employee leaves an organization. In December of 2014, 923,000 people in the Professional and Business Services industry left their jobs,² and 89 percent of ex-employees walk away with their passwords and retain access.³ As a result, businesses not only run high security risks, but could also be paying substantially on missing hardware ex-employees take with them and the software on those devices. Even those devices that are returned have the potential to be locked away in storage, much like my experience when changing careers.
Many of the problems and expenses IT departments face today could be reduced substantially with proper IT asset management (ITAM). Tracking your assets from hire to retire is critical in knowing what assets you have, where they are, and how they are preforming at any stage of their lifecycle. ITAM provides support to manage vendors and contracts, support security efforts, and cut costs, sometimes by as much as 25 to 50 percent°. Businesses unaware of their IT asset environment, in my opinion, may be in competition for the world’s most expensive supply closet.
Follow Jason Christensen at @JasonChristens9