In business, time is money, so any time lost is essentially money down the drain. Given our growing technological dependence, one minor misconfiguration or full-scale system failure can lead to significantly reduced productivity — or worse still, complete business shutdown.
Naturally, preventing business downtime should be high on any business agenda but do we fully understand just how significant the associated costs are?
Bringing these costs to the forefront is Datawright, a process manufacturing software company. Experienced in helping businesses improve efficiencies, they investigate the associated costs of business downtime:
552 man hours are lost in Europe every year as a result of IT problems. Reportedly, this downtime results in a 37% drop in revenue generation, as the critical tools for business success are made unavailable.
While unplanned downtime undoubtedly impacts business performance, just how does this vary across sectors? A number of factors can influence this including the number of staff affected, the impact on productivity, how long the downtime lasts for and the cost per employee, per hour.
For example, a UK manufacturer has an average annual wage of £29,419 or £15.32 per hour based on a 40-hour working week. Should downtime strike the factory floor, preventing 50 members of staff from doing 50% of their job for five hours, the business would face a loss of £1,915 for just one incident. As the scale of the downtime increases, so does the associated loss, causing a major impact on profits.
In addition to this salary-based loss, businesses could also suffer in terms of potential revenue loss. If IT systems fail, for example, you could lose out on future sales as a result of unhappy customers. Regardless of sector, this is something all business will need to avoid if they are to continue their success.
Causes & prevention
By recognising the main causes of downtime within a business, you can rectify the issue. Studies have been carried out to establish the most common causes, although results can vary wildly. The overall causes of business downtime include hardware and software failure, human error, the weather and natural disasters, and power cuts.
So, how do you tackle the issue?
Keep software up to date
Keeping your software up to date is crucial in preventing software failure. Clicking ‘remind me later’ will no longer cut it. Make sure you install all available updates for your software to ensure it can continue performing optimally, minimising the risk of failure.
Out of date systems also have the potential to fail. As cyber threats continue to evolve and materialise, older systems that may not have the required security capacity become obvious targets. Review your software at timely intervals to ensure it remains fit for purpose and relevant.
Refresh hardware where necessary
You may have noticed your hardware is starting to drop in efficiency and performance. Some industries will experience this more than others — for example, in manufacturing, machines and presses will require regular maintenance to ensure they remain functional and efficient.
Carrying out both predictive and preventative maintenance can help, working to resolve the issue before it arises.
Training staff in-line with processes and how to use machinery can prevent issues, although naturally human errors can still occur. Ensure that all employees are fully aware how to use the technology and software they require for their role to prevent issues like this from arising.
Put the right precautions and training in place and you can minimise the impact that business downtime can have.