The complete guide to sustainable Technology Lifecycle Management

The state of IT procurement

Over the last decade, technology has evolved at an unprecedented rate; on-premise has given way to cloud-based infrastructure and digital transformation is at the forefront of every CIO’s mind.
Now, IT procurement is changing once again. With hybrid working set to remain part of the mainstream, businesses are once again reconsidering their investment strategy in devices and reimagining hardware and software options.
Efficiency and sustainability have also become key issues for businesses. Leading CIOs now expect to be able to acquire and use technology sustainably – aiming to access the latest technology when they need it, while minimising the impact on the environment.

Market research

State of Business IT Report

In our research report, The State of Business IT 2020, a third of IT decision-makers (30%) cited sustainability as a key objective for their IT management strategy – but there was still widespread uncertainty about how to manage IT responsibly, with 36% either locking away old assets or dumping and destroying them.


As a result, more businesses are looking to adopt sustainable IT asset lifecycle management practices. But what does that mean and how can it be achieved?

What is an IT asset?

An IT asset is an electronic device used for business requirements, which falls under the responsibility of the IT manager and their team. This includes, but is not limited to, devices such as: desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.


Any device that is utilised by employees for the sake of work and/or provisioned by the IT department can be considered an IT asset.

What is IT asset lifecycle management?

IT asset lifecycle management is a planned strategy for the acquisition, in-life management and proactive refresh of technology devices, including environmentally responsible disposal of obsolete and end-of-life (EOL) equipment. This includes sourcing, deployment, maintenance, upgrades, refurbishment and disposal.


Put simply, it’s about looking after IT equipment throughout its entire lifetime. At 3stepIT, we call this Technology Lifecycle Management (TLM), but more on that later.

The challenges with traditional IT asset lifecycle management

While most businesses have some kind of IT asset management programme in place, it is often disparate and disconnected, leading to considerable IT administration, overheads, data loss and security vulnerabilities. Businesses need access to cutting edge information technology to remain competitive, but then often suffer from inherent inefficiencies during the procurement process and asset lifecycle.


In some businesses, IT procurement and IT asset management are carried out by separate teams or by multiple third-party suppliers – one for IT acquisition, the other for IT management, and yet another for IT asset disposal. The result is the lack of a unifying management strategy to maximise the lifetime value of business technology.


Here are some of the common challenges we find in the organisations today. Recognise any of them?

When new IT equipment is needed:
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Significant time is spent acquiring information technology

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Cash reserves are depleted

As time goes on:

Maintaining a single view of all IT devices becomes an administrative burden

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Data protection concerns grow as more devices are added to the corporate network

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IT equipment ages causing loss of productivity and demand for IT support grows

When equipment needs replacing:

Users face disruption


Asset disposition is time consuming

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Old devices left unmonitored can pose a security and data protection risk

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There is often no way to know if devices are being disposed of with security and sustainability guarantees

Challenge 1: Spiralling total cost of ownership

The management and maintenance of IT assets accounts for 80% of the total cost of ownership (TCO), with the purchase price accounting for just 20%. This means that when you consider hidden costs like support, fixes, failure and recover over the lifetime of an asset, businesses will pay more than many realise.

After the initial purchase phase, businesses spend a considerable amount of their budget paying for maintenance and upkeep. Over time, this cost becomes unpredictable and can increase significantly as it becomes harder to update tech that’s reaching the end of its life – either because software support is discontinued, or hardware components fail more often.

As businesses scale, so too does this issue, and rather than a strategic investment, technology can quickly become a cost burden.

Using IT equipment past its optimal refresh date might seem like a way to save money, but the costs continue to grow as it becomes harder to look after those devices.



Read more about the ageing costs of IT >

Challenge 2: Budget pressures

CIOs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate return on investment from their IT budgets. Budgets are having to go further than ever before, with new provisions required to support hybrid working.


Our research reveals that the majority (84%) of firms across Europe made quick investments at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak to enable employees to work from home, with an average 24% increase on last year’s budget to provide new IT equipment. This initial outlay supported the emergency transition, but more is required.


See the full report here.


Investment in new technology like this requires massive upfront capital expenditure, draining company cash reserves. Significant time and resources are ploughed into sourcing new equipment, often from multiple suppliers, adding complexity and increasing processing times. Precious time that could be better spent focussing on core business requirements.

The burden is on the IT department to manage IT asset disposal as well. More time, more resource and no guarantee of sustainable disposal.

Cash ownership embeds needless waste in a business right from the outset. In contrast, IT asset lifecycle management gives IT managers the ability to plan their budget and frees up cash for business-critical digital transformation projects.

Challenge 3: Lack of visibility and control

As devices proliferate and workforces become more divided between home and office, local and international, full-time and contract workers, it is increasing difficult to maintain visibility and control of an IT estate.


Without an active IT asset management process, IT managers are unable to make informed decisions on when, how, or if to acquire new tech, and update or retire old devices. Non-compliant devices can be missed, devices and data can be lost and there is no financial or technical audit trail of devices. A manually operated asset register can be a nightmare for the IT service desk and result in critical risk exposure for the business.

Challenge 4: Lack of flexibility

IT procurement has traditionally relied on a capital budget, with IT assets depreciating over time and sweated through to obsolescence.


While upgrades may be built into the asset management process, they are not implemented on an optimum cycle that guarantees a business maximum efficiency because the tendency is to sit on cash-owned assets for longer.


The most forward-thinking organisations recognise that timely access to the right technology is far more important than ownership. With our Technology Lifecycle Management service, for example, businesses sign a contract that reflects their planned IT strategy, ensuring they get access to the technology they need, when they need it. Every user is equipped with IT specific for his or her workspace environment, for the optimum lifespan, supporting both productivity and employee wellbeing.

Challenge 5: Data security risks

With data breaches making regular headlines, security management, data erasure and data security are understandably top of mind.

Security is a primary concern for every IT manager, with many hours dedicated to:


  • Knowing which devices are currently out ‘in-field’
  • Ensuring up to date records of all device locations
  • Managing when hardware and software need updating

In our research, 35% of IT decision-makers said security was one of the three most important factors driving change in IT spend for their organisation.


Read the full report.


IT managers need a clear and single view of all devices across the business if they are to keep them up to date and protected, and they need confidence in the data erasure process.


With 3stepIT’s Technology Lifecycle Management service, we use best in class software for data erasure and overwrite data during the refurbishing process (NIST 800-88 standard), chosen to give our customers complete peace of mind. If the data sanitisation software cannot run on an item of faulty equipment, we use a robust manual process, physically shredding hard drives or whole devices (DIN66399 standard) to ensure data destruction. The refurbishing process creates an automatic data-erasure report for all devices. This is recorded in our asset platform to give customers a complete audit trail. 


In 2020, we were proud to continue our record of zero security breaches. Read more about our security measures in our Annual & Sustainability Report.


Challenge 6: Disposal is costly and time consuming

Once an asset reaches end-of-life, it is “retired” and either stored away or disposed of, with businesses often relying on third-party IT asset disposal (ITAD) agencies to remove the devices.


Our research found that over half of businesses (51%) are paying to remove old and broken IT assets, while only 39% recoup any value by selling them to a specialist.


See the full report here.


Often no real attempt is made to realise the residual value of used IT equipment, further increasing total cost of ownership. Businesses often “sweat their assets”, running them into the ground to the point where devices are too old and broken to be refurbished and given a new home. This represents a needless waste.


Instead, by adopting 3stepIT's Technology Lifecycle Management approach, we take responsibility for the full IT asset lifecycle. When your device reaches its end-of-life stage, our team of remarketing experts ensure it gets a second life and prevent it from becoming harmful electronic waste.


We refurbish 98% of end-of-lease devices returned to our remarketing centres. To find out more about our industry leading refurbishment record, read our Annual & Sustainability Report.


Every time a device is reused, we displace the manufacture of a new device. As most of the carbon footprint of a device over its lifetime is produced in its manufacture, this makes our service the more sustainable option. For every device acquired through Technology Lifecycle Management, we like to say you’re saving the planet, one device at a time. Now, that’s peace of mind.


Learn more about proper IT asset disposal.

Challenge 7: The mounting e-waste crisis

As the world becomes increasingly digital the rate of technology churn is increasing. This trend has been accelerated by the pandemic, which has seen office-based computers become redundant in favour of laptops and other mobile devices.


Our research shows that over the next 12 months IT procurement will focus on implementing mobility into the workforce.


See the full report here.


The change has a left huge number of desktop PCs sitting idle in offices across Europe - stretching IT budgets and potentially accelerating the global electronic waste (e-waste) crisis.


According the UN Global E-waste Monitor, 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste are generated globally every year – the equivalent of throwing away 1,000 laptops every second.


And while the full impact of the pandemic still remains to be seen, indications are it could spell disaster for the planet with many more devices being made redundant. Sustainable IT asset lifecycle management can be a big part of the solution. 


Leading IT decision-makers are rethinking their asset management strategy and with sustainable Technology Lifecycle Management, it's possible to balance the demand for flexible working, growing environmental challenges and stretched IT budgets.

What is sustainable Technology Lifecycle Management?

Sustainable Technology Lifecycle Management is a new way of thinking about managing IT equipment sustainably and efficiently throughout the entire IT asset lifecycle, drawing on the principles of the circular economy. 


It is based on the idea that access to technology, not ownership of it, offers the greatest value to businesses, and that products should therefore be returned, refurbished and reused after their first period of ownership.


Our Technology Lifecycle Management solution divides the IT asset lifecycle into three simple steps – acquire, manage and refresh. Put simply, a business accesses essential IT infrastructure, uses our IT asset management platform to manage the health and efficiency of those devices, and when they age, instigates a renewal and refurbishment process.


Instead of sending the old devices to landfill, we take them back, securely refurbish and resell them. This circular model helps our customers achieve their security and sustainability targets.


Download our eBook on Sustainable Technology Consumption and the Circular Economy.

The sustainable IT asset lifecycle management stages

Here is how Technology Lifecycle Management works at 3stepIT.

Step 1: Acquire

Many businesses struggle to cope with the rapid advances in technology. Budgeting, maintenance and replacement can be cumbersome and sustainability easily becomes an after-thought. We simplify IT procurement and ensure you can execute your technology roadmap, optimise budgets and conserve cash.


Acquire your IT through a flexible finance solution that optimises your budget and gives you access to the technology you want, when you want it, without the significant outlay. This frees up budget to be invested in digital transformation.


Our service simplifies budgeting with predictable payments and a secure IT procurement process allows you to approve all new acquisitions before the contract starts.


Buy the best equipment that’s right for your business, choosing from multiple suppliers, while benefiting from our Technology Lifecycle Management capabilities. We partner with businesses to support their chosen IT strategy, offering complete independence and choice.


Because we place a financial value on returned equipment, you procure IT in the knowledge it will be sold to a second user. It's a simple switch that moves you to a more circular IT investment model.


We know that shifting away from traditional cash ownership towards a circular model of IT asset management is a big idea, but it really is a simple process.

Here’s how it works:

1. You’ll meet with an 3stepIT expert whose job it is to understand your technology investment strategy and key challenges


2. 3stepIT will secure a credit line on your behalf, with one of our trusted funding partners


3. You are free to independently source your new IT equipment from your preferred suppliers


4. Once the equipment has been delivered and accepted by you, 3stepIT remits your supplier's invoice(s) in full


5. The lease schedule and contract are generated, and simple monthly payments are collected by our funding partner

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6. Repeat this process as often as necessary for maximum flexibility

Step 2: Manage

In a sustainable approach to IT asset management, you'll get access to a single platform to streamline all aspects of device management.


This enables IT managers to easily track IT equipment – including viewing its specifications, costs, contract period and other vital information – generate on-demand reports for monitoring and budgeting, and streamline financial planning as they can see what each department spends.


Our advanced IT asset management platform is included in your monthly payment and gives you complete visibility and control of all devices. Know where your devices are and who is using them, ensure each device is up to date and compliant, and access detailed technical and financial reporting, split by cost centre, product groups and location.


It can also hold information on non-contracted, user-owned devices for a full 360 view on the entire IT device estate. It enables users to better manage budgets, allocate costs and make informed decisions based on data.



Customers can...
  • Access dashboards to get a birds-eye view of all all assets in one platform
  • Drill down into device information, including serial numbers, user data, technical data, financial data, and performance and health
  • Manage devices that are reaching the end of their lease contract and select the desired “ending” option e.g. contract extension, device purchase or return
  • Organise how IT assets are collected and delivered for an additional layer of security
  • Track data erasure and data sanitisation services

Click here for more information on our IT asset management platform.

Step 3: Refresh

With our Technology Lifecycle Management service, you can automate the renewal process ahead of contract expiration to ensure a seamless switch to new devices. We handle logistics and data security so you can have confidence you’re disposing of out of contract devices safely and sustainably.


We keep prices low because we’re experts at remarketing used IT, and so we take competitive residual positions and pass the savings on to you.


When you are ready to refresh your IT, we securely collect your old devices for repair at our refurbishing centres. Our product life extension experts prepare the devices for resale, using best-in-class data sanitisation methods.


With the manufacture of a typical laptop or smartphone contributing to the majority of the total CO2 emissions it generates, allowing your devices to be resold means you’re extending the product life, which helps you to avoid CO2 emissions and reduce electronic waste.


From our advanced IT asset management platform, IT managers can see when devices are collected, when they arrive at our refurbishment centre and their current status. Once the works are done, we’ll provide a full audit report on both security and sustainability.


By using this approach, businesses can reduce their total cost of ownership, maximise the lifetime value of assets, streamline IT asset management, increase data security and reduce their environmental footprint.


Download our Technology Lifecycle Management guide

REfurbish REuse REcycle


Our REstepIT service supports businesses to dispose of IT sustainably, using the principles of the circular economy to ensure old and unwanted devices are given a second life. We buy in redundant business IT and securely refurbish the devices for re-use. These devices are sanitised using best-in-class technology and then resold, extending the product life and reducing its environmental impact. The service aims to help businesses recover monetary value from unused or obsolete IT assets and reduce their electronic waste.With REstepIT, we aim to make an even bigger contribution to global environmental efforts, so the ‘RE’ emphasises this environmental impact, drawing on the sustainable elements of the process - REfurbish, REuse and REcycle.

Learn more

How can we help

At 3stepIT, we specialise in sustainable Technology Lifecycle Management – we help businesses to think responsibly and strategically about how they acquire, manage, refresh and dispose of IT assets.

We enable businesses to reduce the cost of IT investment, increase the lifetime of assets, achieve enterprise-wide visibility of devices and exercise greater security.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out some of the benefits we’ve delivered for businesses with sustainable Technology Lifecycle Management:


If you want to find out how we can help your business to approach Technology Lifecycle Management sustainably, why not get in touch to find out more?


Technology Lifecycle Management

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