How much is downtime costing our businesses?

As the saying goes, time is money — a phrase that is especially relevant to businesses. 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.

It’s clear that businesses need to do all they can to prevent this from happening — but are we really aware of just how much this downtime is costing our businesses? Datawright, a discrete manufacturing software provider that specialises in helping manufacturers improve efficiencies, investigates:

Business downtime: the statistics

In Europe, problems with IT and technology lead to the loss of 552 man hours every year. Reportedly, this downtime results in a 37% drop in revenue generation, as the critical tools for business success are made unavailable.

Unplanned downtime can result in significant losses to both sales and productivity, so 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.

To use a basic example, assume the average UK manufacturer wage of £29,419 (the equivalent of £15.32 per hour, based on a 40-hour 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.

Of course, this is just salary based loss — what about the loss of potential revenue? 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.

The causes & prevention of business downtime

The first step in rectifying the issue of business downtime is to recognise the main causes of business downtime. 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.

Now that we know the enemy, how can businesses avoid the associated costs of downtime? Here’s how you do it:

Stay on top of software updates and developments

Software failure is one of the key causes of business downtime, so it makes sense to ensure yours is up-to-date. 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.

Likewise, outdated systems can pose a risk in themselves. 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.

Replace hardware at regular intervals

Just like software can date, hardware can suffer from general wear and tear. 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.

Predictive and preventative maintenance is beneficial within this scenario, as it helps to establish when issues may arise and help prevent them from occurring at all.

Invest in staff training

While human errors can occur at any point, investing in staff training can help prevent them from occurring generally. Ensure that all employees are fully aware how to use the technology and software they require for their role to prevent against issues like this from arising.

With the right precautions in place and an awareness of the wider implications, businesses can minimise downtime and the impact it can have.

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Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.