How frustrating is it when you’re at work and can’t send or receive emails? Or when the printer isn’t working, right at the moment 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 becomes so commonplace that people begin to accept it as a normal part of everyday life. Employees learn to live with it, or send multiple requests to the IT support team, rather than solving problems once and for all.
But the truth is lengthy periods of IT downtime can be avoided. 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 on average per year 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 a number of factors including your turnover, staff costs and the nature of your business. If IT issues stop you completing transactions with customers, the costs 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 true cost of downtime difficult 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 easily be avoided.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which 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 obvious 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.
How Netstar has helped clients eliminate the cost of IT downtime
Over the years, we’ve helped many clients tackle IT downtime, saving them thousands of pounds while improving productivity and boosting morale throughout the business. Here are just a few examples (we’ve removed the names to keep our clients confidential):
A London-based property company approached us after becoming frustrated by IT issues and downtime. The problem was their existing IT support partner treated all requests equally, meaning important issues were not prioritised.
After switching IT support partner to Netstar they saved approximately 1.5 hours per day of IT downtime per employee. This resulted in an estimated £7,000 a month (£84,000 per annum) saving – and that’s before taking into account the additional revenue generating activities the company was able to achieve with the time saved.
PR & Marketing consultancy
When we first spoke to this London-based PR and marketing consultancy, they had been suffering with recurring IT problems for a long time. Different users would often experience the same issues, without anyone noticing or taking action. The business was being held back, unable to grow at the rate they wanted as their IT simply couldn’t scale with their business.
We worked proactively to fix the problems, saving them from future stress and costs. Armed with a new IT strategy, the company was able to focus on growth once more.
Within three months of switching to Netstar, they had addressed all their reoccurring IT issues. They had fewer IT problems and their team was much happier and more productive.
Reducing their IT requests by one third saved the company an estimated £25,000 per month; a return of over 500% on their IT Investment.
Case study – DWPF
The team at London-based financial advisory firm DWPF had become frustrated with their previous IT support partner as it could take several days for a logged issue to be resolved. After switching to Netstar, the team has experienced significant improvements throughout their business.
DWPF’s office manager Natalie explains: “The speed with which Netstar corrects minor errors has changed our working day. The Netstar team are frequently logging the call at the same time as they are fixing the problem. They just jump on remotely and 99 percent of the time, we have a fix within minutes.”
If you’re ready to tackle IT downtime and put an end to expensive short-term fixes, we’d love to talk to you.
- Discover more about our IT support services here.
- Watch how Richard from London’s leading furniture and office design consultancy benefited from switching IT support company.
- If you’re thinking about switching from your current IT support partner, get in touch here, or give us a call on 020 7101 0544.
- Want to learn more about what the right IT support looks like? Check out this article on how to choose the best IT support provider for your business.