How frustrating is it when you’re at work and can’t send or receive emails? Or when the printer isn’t working, right when you need it most? Perhaps there are times when you can’t log into your finance or CRM systems. If these examples sound familiar, your frustrations are all caused by different types of IT downtime.
In some businesses, IT downtime has become so commonplace that people accept it as a regular part of everyday life. As a result, employees learn to live with it or send multiple requests to the IT support team rather than solve problems once and for all.
But the truth is long periods of IT downtime can be avoided. However, persistent IT problems and downtime should never be something you put up with. Because the cost IT downtime has on your business can be huge.
If you’ve been putting up with niggling IT issues, you might want to assess the impact it’s having on your business. The calculations could be shocking.
How much does IT downtime cost your business?
Recent reports suggest that lost productivity caused by IT downtime could be costing British businesses £3.6 million annually, with 545 hours of staff productivity lost annually.
Another way to calculate IT downtime cost is to look at the cost per employee. With an average hourly wage of £13.75, it’s estimated that IT problems cost companies £7,235 per employee each year.
Of course, the cost to your own business will depend on several factors, including your turnover, staff costs and the nature of your business. If IT issues stop you from completing transactions with customers, the prices can be even higher.
The effects of IT downtime
IT downtime doesn’t just affect productivity. It can have far-reaching effects throughout every aspect of your business, making the actual cost of downtime challenging to measure. You might think recurring downtime is just costing a few pounds here and there, but in reality, the consequences could mean the difference between the success and failure of your business. Many companies have folded because they didn’t address IT issues that could have easily been avoided.
Let’s look at some of how downtime can affect your business.
But don’t feel disheartened if any of this sounds familiar because we’ll also show you how IT downtime can easily be avoided.
How IT downtime affects your business
Loss of productivity
Perhaps the most apparent effect of IT downtime is lost productivity. Employees might be sat idly while waiting for issues to be fixed. Or they might find simple tasks take several times longer than they should.
Often a team member might be pulled away from their own work to help a colleague who’s facing IT problems. Even senior members of staff can find IT issues take up a valuable chunk of their day which should be dedicated to strategy and driving business growth.
In addition, there are often opportunity costs caused by the lack of access to technology. For example, many employees take advantage of travel time to work or pick up emails in between meetings. This helps them be productive for the company’s benefit but it’s only possible when IT is working efficiently.
The knock-on effect
There might be one member of the team who constantly suffers from IT issues. You might think it doesn’t have a big impact because their role isn’t business-critical, or they’re not customer facing. But of course, every member of the team is connected to their colleagues and the repercussions of one person being out of action can be felt throughout the business. For example, if a graphic designer can’t access a particular system, then the marketing team can’t send a campaign on time, which in turn impacts the sales department.
It’s likely that your day-to-day processes rely heavily on IT systems. But when things don’t work properly – especially if problems go on day-after-day, your staff might seek their own solutions.
Rather than using the correct systems and protocols, they begin to devise their own work-around just to get the job done. Often, they feel they’re being more productive than waiting for the IT issue to be resolved – or taking time to log the issue. But businesses rely on following processes. Taking short-cuts or creating new un-approved methods can be incredibly dangerous. Sensitive data might not be protected or stages in a particular process might be missed.
As soon as people start to ignore processes, it can be an attitude that quickly extends to other areas of the business, making it hard to regain control.
It only takes one person to be dealing with an IT problem to bring down the mood of an entire office.
Hearing colleagues complain about issues creates a negative atmosphere that can shape the culture of your workplace. It can quickly create an atmosphere of ‘nothing ever works’, ‘things are always going wrong’.
Low morale and a negative culture result in lower productivity, higher staff turnover and missed opportunities as people begin just doing the basics to get through the day rather than thinking proactively about new ideas and opportunities.
We all know how frustrating IT downtime can be. But the repercussions can be even more severe. As it takes people longer to get through their workload, stress can build, leading to time off work. In addition, employees can feel severely undervalued when issues are not resolved as it sends a message that the company doesn’t care enough to help them do their job properly.
Increased recruitment costs
As we’ve seen above, low morale and increased stress are both side-effects of IT downtime. And of course, both can lead to employees resigning, or taking time off, creating increased recruitment and training costs for your business.
Cost of resolving problems
Often companies find themselves paying IT support companies to fix daily niggles, using a ‘break-fix’ mindset, addressing IT problems only as they occur. These costs can quickly mount up and it’s often far more cost-effective to take a proactive approach update systems or hardware before issues arise. You could find replacing old equipment or working on your IT strategy costs far less than logging countless tasks with your IT support partner.
Impact on customers
When IT issues arise with customer-facing systems, it’s sure to lead to customer complaints, lost orders and decreased customer satisfaction. But even if customers are not aware of the issues, they may still feel the impact. If a customer can’t complete an order, or get information when they need it, they’re likely to go elsewhere.
Competitors get ahead
Of course, the ultimate danger of IT downtime is that while you’re battling productivity issues, low morale and recruitment problems; your competitors have the opportunity to take business away from you.
How to avoid IT downtime
We’ve seen some of the ways in which IT downtime can hurt your business. But how can you avoid it?
The first step is to reduce IT downtime through proactive monitoring and maintenance. Don’t wait for problems to arise before putting this in place. Even when things seem to be working effectively, IT issues can be found and fixed before they become a risk.
IT health check
Ask your IT support company for a full IT health check. It could be that the daily downtime you’re suffering could be fixed simply by upgrading software, tweaking a process or replacing outdated hardware.
Switch your IT support partner
If your IT support partner is failing to take a proactive approach, or you’re paying them lots of money but still experiencing regular IT downtime, it might be time to switch provider.
A good IT support partner will take a proactive approach to ensure your systems are running efficiently and prevent problems from developing in the first place. They should also provide regular reports to show the ongoing work they are carrying out behind the scenes to protect your business. Dealing with minor IT problems before they become bigger issues will help protect your business from the cost of lost productivity and employee stress.
Check your response times
If you’ve been with your IT support partner for a while, it’s a good idea to review your Service-Level Agreements (SLAs). It may be that the agreed response times in place are no longer suitable for your current business needs, or that your IT support partner has let them slip.