“Here, take my old PC. I’m getting a new one to help meet my advanced needs, but this one will surely do the job for you.” This, in a nutshell, is cascading in IT asset management.
IT assets are reused at different levels of the user food chain, until they really are too old and too useless to help anybody. At this point, they are junked. However, this recycling tactic may not be as cost-efficient as it appears.
In fact, when IT equipment like PCs is leased, the greatest cost savings may come from having users keep the same PCs until the end of the lease. How do you decide whether cascading is worth it or not?
The way to decide whether or not to cascade IT assets is to look at the cost of the cascading action, and then compare it with the benefits you hope to achieve. Each time a PC is cascaded downwards, your IT staff may be involved.
Actions can include erasing storage media, refurbishing or repairing parts of the PC, resetting user IDs and network connectivity, and updating the IT assets register.
Given the total cost of personnel costs (salary, benefits, employer contributions to social security and pensions, etc.), it doesn’t take long before the costs of cascading start to surpass the economic gain of not having to provide a user with a new PC.
Cascading may make sense when power-users need more powerful PCs and the models they have been using can give other users a better computing experience and raise their productivity.
Beware however of cases in which a new recruit receives a new high-end PC, when a low-end PC would be amply sufficient, or when productive junior employees receive low-end PCs with a useful life span that will run out before the end of the lease, requiring expensive upgrades or other solutions, and damaging work output in the process.
In short, consider the real business value and impact of cascading or not cascading, get your calculator out (or fire up a spreadsheet) and make your decision by taking into account all the relevant information.