Checklist for switching vendors
By: Neil Peters-Michaud, July 18, 2019
Whether you recently lost your ITAD provider, or you're looking for a change, here are the keys to success we've discovered after working with hundreds of enterprises transitioning into working with Cascade.
Step 1: Prepare for a wind-down with your current ITAD partner
- Communication Strategy: Determine what and when to communicate to your internal stakeholders. Identify anyone who ordered services, received reports, accessed resources or otherwise interfaced with the vendor. Alert them about the impending change and transition plan as it becomes available. There are likely more people involved in the disposition process than you think, from loading dock workers to sustainability officers to the IT staff ordering the service.
- Control your records: It is likely the incumbent ITAD vendor stores all your asset disposition records, either online or internally. You should own that information and should ask to gather and store that information outside of the ITAD vendor. Ask your ITAD vendor to hand over all data destruction and asset disposition records. Integrate these records into your asset management system or archive them for future reference. Use this exercise as a way to audit records – make sure all the asset details line up to your shipping records and that all assets have been processed. There are likely to still be assets in flight that are not yet processed. Make sure you get final disposition details on these assets as well.
- Protect your liability: You are still at risk for the improper handling of assets for recovery and data destruction until these assets are fully processed by the vendor. If you have assets at the vendor’s facility that aren’t completely wiped or recycled, follow-up with the vendor to get a final assurance once all assets have been processed and materials are fully recovered. This may take many months. To truly protect your risk, conduct a site visit. Make sure the company isn’t stockpiling materials and that they have documentation available to demonstrate any hazardous materials are fully and properly treated or recycled. There are many cases where companies have exited the business but also left piles of untreated materials that their customers later pay to clean up.
- Legal review: Check your contract for early termination or default remedies, any requirements that survive the termination of the contract, and responsibilities of the vendor to assist with offboarding. Immediately involve your legal team to review the termination and transition to better protect you and to seek all available remedies.
Step 2: Finding a new ITAD solution
Depending on how much time you have to prepare for a transition, your strategy may be different. If you were forced to hastily end your relationship with your provider, you need to act quickly to protect yourself. That being said, you also don’t want to throw yourself from the frying pan into the fire. Here are some strategies to make a quick switch in a smart way. With more time, these strategies work even better.
- Hold onto your assets: Determine what IT assets you can hold and stockpile before needing to ship them out for processing. If you have secure storage in your facilities, work to temporarily allocate space to these assets. Make sure you maintain an inventory list and know where everything is. It will make things easier for disposition once that option is available again.
- Coordinate with internal stakeholders: Bring together all the parties involved in asset disposition to learn from past ITAD work and to plan for next steps. Be sure to include IT, Risk Management/Security, Procurement, Facilities, and Environmental/Sustainability departments.
- Determine your ITAD needs: Create a summary of your ITAD needs. This helps to determine who to contact as a potential replacement.
- Identify the location of all sites that generate IT assets for removal. This is important for aligning with the geographic footprint of other providers.
- Determine collection and packaging needs for each site. Is the equipment palletized or loose; is there a loading dock with a lift gate; what types of vehicles can access the building; are the items located in the interior of the building or by the dock; are there security access requirements, etc.
- Determine inventory requirements: Do providers needs to reconcile against your inventory list; do assets need to be inventoried by the ITAD provider onsite; can assets be inventoried at their location after transport; what assets get inventoried; what information needs to be captured in the inventory (make, model, serial number, asset tag, etc.)
- Determine data security requirements: Does any media need to be destroyed onsite; what data destruction methods (crush, shred, degauss, electronic sanitization) are required for different media and assets; What standard do you need to meet for data destruction (NIST 800-88 Guidelines for Media Sanitization “Purge”, “Clear”, or “Destroy”); what security certifications do you require for vendors, etc.
- Determine processing requirements: Can assets be refurbished for reuse; what resale restrictions do you have; do you need donation support; are the items leased and need to go back to another vendor; what recycling certifications do you need?
- Compile a list of past disposition activity: If possible, create a list/spreadsheet showing what assets (type, make, model, configuration and condition) shipped out of all of your facilities over the past 6 months. This information (minus any financial details) can help vendors assess your disposition needs and properly price out services.
- Reporting and compliance: Identify how you currently manage asset disposition and data destruction reporting. What do you require from a legal compliance standard from your processor (insurance, closure funding, confidentiality, etc.)
- Search for a replacement ITAD: Look for companies that have qualified industry certifications, match up well with your geographic locations, and are respected in the industry. Look up the following directories of service providers – many can be search by location:
- Reach out to select ITAD providers: When you find some matches, share your ITAD Needs Summary (created above) and ask how the provider can meet each need. Use the report of the assets you’ve disposed over the previous 6 months to ask vendors to tell you how they would have processed and charged/paid for these assets. A good vendor that is prepared can turn this request in a couple of days.
- Evaluate vendors based on overall value: Look at a company that aligns well with your needs, has a long and positive track record, is respected in the industry, and is in the ballpark on best pricing. If you just got burned by your last ITAD provider, you understand that price isn’t the most important consideration when you are otherwise left out to dry on the contract.
- Select vendor on a trial basis: Most reputable vendors are happy to allow you to pilot test their services or operate a contract on an at-will basis. Set up an SOW that can be updated as you work through the pilot phase. See the Erie Insurance/Cascade presentation at IAITAM as a good example of how a pilot program works to assess a new vendor. This is a good way to clear out inventory that needs to move pronto.
- Work with vendor on a long-term transition plan: To be successful, it is important to partner with your ITAD client. This is what has worked best in our engagements . . .
- Conduct a value stream map and current state analysis to identify how to integrate systems;
- Coordinate order requests, fulfillment and reporting activities;
- Define products, pricing, services and capabilities to ensure facilities are receiving a solution they are confident the ITAD vendor can deliver over the long-haul;
- Determine SLAs for the engagement and performance reporting processes; and,
- Develop a marketing, outreach and implementation plan to promote this new solution to sites.
If you need assistance with your transition to a new provider, contact Cascade by calling 608-316-6728 or 608-222-4800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. With just a 10 minute call, we can assess whether we are a good fit and how quickly we can respond to your needs.