Unplanned downtime is a serious issue that can negatively affect a company’s overall health and bottom line. One study by IDC notes that 80% of small businesses have experienced downtime at least once, with overall costs ranging from $82,200 to $256,000 per event. This article explains the impact of downtime and how to protect your company in the event of an unplanned outage.
Unplanned Downtime Can Happen For Many Reasons
Unplanned downtime can happen for a number of different reasons and can range in severity, persisting anywhere between a few hours to several days/weeks. Consider:
- Weather – High winds, lightning strikes, earthquakes, flooding, and other natural disasters may destroy essential equipment or cause power outages.
- Human Error – If a technician accidentally interrupts an essential process or a third-party utility person unknowingly cuts a cable outside, unplanned downtime can occur.
- Connectivity/Software/Hardware – If the internet goes out, if software updates go awry, or if other essential components of your IT infrastructure fail, your business will likely suffer an outage.
- Cybercrime – When malware or ransomware attacks seize operations, your business may face a stoppage of productivity that persists until the threat is removed (and even longer if your data backups are not viable).
Downtime Affects Revenue
Unplanned downtime will undoubtedly affect a company’s revenue regardless of business model. Apple, for example, lost $25M in sales in 2015 during an outage that prevented customers from purchasing apps, movies, books, and songs, and Delta Airlines lost $150M due to an outage of only five hours in 2016. The industries that experience the most significant loss of revenue during downtime include Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Information Technology, and downtime costs businesses around $5,600 per minute on average.
Downtime Affects Reputation
Downtime not only costs your company money, but it may also cost your business valuable customers. The Ponemon Institute conducted a study on the impact of unexpected downtime and discovered that business disruption, which factors in customer churn and reputational damage, is the singular largest cost. Your customers rely on the consistency and quality of your company’s work — while they may forgive an occasional issue with your website or your system, chronic downtime can cause them to partner with your competitors instead.
Downtime Affects Productivity
Inherent to unexpected downtime is the loss of productivity your employees experience. If frequent unplanned downtime is an issue for your business, your operations will likely suffer and your employees may become unmotivated. This can lead to unwanted staff turnover and negative office culture.
How to Prevent Unplanned Downtime
- Plan Downtime. Plan regular downtime during off-hours to test your hardware and update software. For many businesses, running software updates or replacing hardware overnight is an effective way to eliminate downtime that could harm business operations. Ensure that your IT team or IT Managed Service Provider is experienced and staffed well enough to handle your planned downtime operations — if things go wrong, the planned outage might continue into the next business day.
- Create a Recovery Plan. Develop a robust incident management response plan to help your team prepare for disasters in advance.
- Perform Preventative Maintenance. Ensure that areas containing stacks and other important pieces of technology are clean and free of moisture and humidity. Upgrade essential components as necessary and regularly test hardware to ensure it’s running smoothly.
- Update Your Infrastructure. Verify that your hardware and software are up-to-date and not at risk for taking down your network, and employ load balancing between servers to minimize risk. Implement PDU-, environmental-, and socket-level monitoring to help prevent server failure, and use lock cables to prevent unintentional power cord removal.
- Monitor Your Batteries. If a battery in your infrastructure fails, it has the potential to impact many other systems in the process. Employ battery monitoring systems to identify issues before they arise, and also consider switching to lithium-ion batteries, which require less maintenance and last longer than traditional VRLA batteries.
- Enact Security Protocols. Safeguard your business against cyberthreats that can cause unplanned downtime by training employees to identify attacks, and keep all security software up to date. Make sure data backups are running smoothly — if your business faces a ransomware attack, they’ll help you to significantly reduce downtime and loss.
Ultimately, partnering with a capable IT Managed Services Provider with adequate staffing and capable administrators is the best way to prevent unplanned downtime. At Qnectus, we employ a combination of infrastructure monitoring, preventative action, training, and data security procedures that will keep your network up and running. Contact us today to learn more about the ways in which we can protect against unplanned downtime within your operations.