As the common business saying goes, time is money. When it comes to the cost of business downtime, it has never been so true. 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.

When deciding on business priorities, preventing downtime should be high on the list. But do people truly understand the cost that it has? Presenting these cost implications and suggestions on how to reduce downtime is Datawright, manufacturing software providers.

Putting it into perspective

When it comes to time lost to business downtime, research discovered that 552 man hours are lost in Europe every year due to IT problems. Reportedly, this downtime results in a 37% drop in revenue generation, as the critical tools for business success are made unavailable.

Of course, some sectors are more IT focussed than others and downtime may affect these businesses more so. 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 consider the effect of these costs and how they can escalate, consider the following 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.

Revenue can also be affected during downtime, especially if businesses rely on ecommerce. 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.

How to prevent downtime

Sometimes downtime is unavoidable but in other cases, there are measures that you can take to reduce the likelihood of it occurring. 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, what actions can you take to reduce your risk?

Updating software

One action that you can take is ensuring that your software is updated to its latest version. 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.

The risk lies with out of date systems, as they are more prone to failing. 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 is relevant.

Refreshing hardware

If you have noticed that your hardware is starting to drop in speed or performance, it could need refreshing. 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.

Conducting predictive and preventative maintenance can help too, as this can identify the problem before it arises.

Training programmes

Training staff how to use equipment correctly and make them aware of how to spot if software needs updating can be crucial, although be aware that 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.

Implementing the appropriate precautions and training programmes can minimise the economic impact of business downtime.