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The Real Impact of Downtime and How to Prevent It

Buddy Pitt

It is very difficult to estimate how much downtime costs businesses, but it is more than just money. Even a minor IT interruption can have serious commercial consequences – and lasting damage to a company’s reputation.

Here we consider the costs typically associated with downtime, their impact on your business, and what you can do to prevent it.

Accurately assessing the costs
The costs of downtime vary from business to business. They depend on your business activity, the severity of the downtime, and your ability to respond. For example, if you run a financial trading firm, even the briefest system downtime severely affects your ability to do business, whereas companies who rely less on IT systems may not be affected as seriously.

Downtime negatively impacts businesses in four ways:

  1. Lost productivity: When hardware breaks or systems fail, productivity drops. People and equipment sit idle, and time, money, and resources are directed toward damage control instead of productive work. Daily tasks, if they can be accomplished at all, take employees far longer than normal.
     
  2. Damaged reputation: Depending on how frequently your systems fail, how significant the downtime is, and the impact it has on your ability to serve your customers, clients can lose faith in your business. Once that happens, it is an uphill battle to win them back. In addition, employees become frustrated when they can’t get their work done. Pragmatically, that means downtime damages internal morale and employee engagement to work. Studies have also shown that this directly affects a company’s profits.
     
  3. Lost revenue and added cost: Not only is lost productivity a concern during downtime – but lost revenue as well. Broken or inefficient systems can stop you from performing revenue-producing activities including securing new business.  In fact, businesses can lose thousands of dollars every minute simply from lost revenue opportunities. In addition, you’re paying salaries and potentially additional overtime, regardless of the broken IT systems so there are direct business costs associated with downtime.
     
  4. Recovery: The costs of recovering from system downtime shouldn’t be underestimated. Returning to normal operations can take anywhere from minutes (if your network is properly set up) to weeks (if you’re caught unprepared), and you must account not only for lost productivity but also any additional equipment, services or labor involved in returning your network to normal operations.

How to prevent downtime
The good news is that it is possible to avoid all of these headaches and their associated costs.

  1. Training: Ensure that your staff knows how to use and care for their business hardware and software, and make sure they know how to respond to everyday occurrences such as a suspicious email or if there’s a system error or question. Unskilled support staff . Without proper training on how to effectively use company IT systems, staff can make. What’s more, improperly trained staff don’t know how to fix problems when they arise, which costs your business in extra risk, time and money.
     
  2. Database maintenance: Poorly managed or neglected databases are a common cause of downtime. They’re sensitive to corruption, so they need routine maintenance to run smoothly. Ensure that your databases are properly configured and frequently check their performance. System administrators must know how to effectively monitor database performance and concerns should be promptly addressed if they arise.
     
  3. Hardware: If the hardware is faulty, improperly installed or tuned, and/or improperly sized or powered for your business needs, you’ll suffer from downtime and lost productivity. IT infrastructure should always be monitored as well as proactively managed and updated so capabilities align with your growing business and the latest security advancements, and all hardware must be properly installed.

Managed IT services
While this sounds like a lot to do, all of these tasks can be accomplished with a good partner.

In fact, one of the best ways to prevent business downtime is to use a managed service provider (MSP). A good MSP will evaluate your existing IT structure and ensure it securely operates with the utmost efficiency and consistency, fully supporting your current and upcoming business needs. A good MSP will:

  1. Put the right security measures in place: They will proactively maintain your network, ensuring you have the right system and software updates installed on schedule. They will also proactively monitor your thousands of data points, with enhanced detection and alerting capabilities that enable you to intercept and neutralize the latest ransomware and cybersecurity attacks.
     
  2. Protect your data: Your data is your most valuable asset. Without it, you cannot operate. A good MSP will ensure you stay up and running and have access to the data you need, even in the face of a disaster. They will do that by identifying and ensuring redundancy of critical network components coupled with effective backup and recovery capabilities.
     
  3. Maximize your uptime: A good MSP will also help you devise a contingency plan to minimize downtime in the event of an incident, all while ensuring you get your systems up and running again quickly. In addition, a good MSP will have a skilled incident team ready to go the instant you have a problem.
     
  4. Increase your technology ROI: Your business doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to servicing your clients. That should also ring true for your IT provider. A good MSP will take the time to find out what your needs and pain points are and create a custom plan to address those needs. They will provide the services and features that best achieve the results you want while also applying their extensive experience and disciplined operations to do so in a manner that drives efficiency and maximizes your technology investment.

Regardless of your approach to IT system management, be sure you have access to IT experts – either in-house or outsourced – to keep your systems operating at top performance and minimize IT downtime. If you have questions or concerns about your IT strategy, speak with an expert at Logically today.