Value can vary
Several factors can affect how much, if anything, an organization can get back when working with a vendor to sell on the secondary market, IAITAM's Rembiesa and others say. The biggest issue these days is the age of the equipment.
Many companies have been holding on to their IT assets for as long as possible, stretching out their refresh cycles to avoid having to spend during the down economy (see "The average life cycle of common hardware," below). But Rembiesa points out that they won't be able to get much, if anything, for PCs and servers if they're too old.
"The resell value depends on a few factors, including technology advances. The rule of thumb would be that anything over five years would start costing and would not have much resell value," Rembiesa says.
The challenge, Rembiesa and others agree, is finding the sweet spot where the equipment is too old to justify supporting but still young enough to resell.
When RJ Juliano joined Brandywine Realty Trust four years ago, he looked at tax codes, maintenance costs and other factors in trying to develop an asset management plan that fit with the company's practices and policies.
Juliano, who is CIO of the Radnor, Pa., firm as well as a member of the Society for Information Management, noted that Brandywine counts most IT equipment as an expense, not an asset. He also considered his company's tax position and its margins when deciding how to optimize the value of technology as it neared its end of life.
Brandywine now has a mix of options to help get the most residual value out of its older equipment. Some pieces are refurbished by staffers and reused in-house for either backup or less critical functions. Some are kept for spare parts to use in more current equipment; others go to vendors like Five Stars Telecom, which gives him credit to use toward future purchases; and some are donated to charities. (See "Junk tech gear helps charity," on the next page, for one charitable option.)
Juliano can't say exactly how much these efforts have saved the company but notes that it's "not insubstantial." For example, Brandywine has earned about $100,000 in credits over the past four years by selling equipment back to vendors, he says.
Organize your assets
How can companies ensure that they're reaping the maximum return on their assets? By centrally managing their IT gear, which gives them insight into their entire inventory, says Redemtech President Robert Houghton. (For more information, see "Life-cycle management explained.")
Beyond that, IT managers can maximize the price they get by taking certain simple steps, Houghton says. For example, recovering user passwords when equipment is turned in can speed up and simplify the refurbishing process.
Another important step is to collect all necessary components and handle simple fixes in-house. Including the AC adapter with a laptop, for example, can boost its resale value by $20 to $40. It might not seem like much, but an organization reselling hundreds or thousands of laptops during a refresh cycle could see a considerable difference in cash or credit.