3 апр. 2024 г.

Downtime: the enemy of productivity

In this article, we explore the different kinds of downtime, the associated costs, and some effective strategies for making sure its impact on your business is minimal.

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  • Efficiency is paramount to businesses of all sizes. For that reason, downtime always presents a hurdle to success.  

    If you’re running a business, you need to know that time and resources are being always used optimally. Your business must stay agile and productive – even when the unexpected happens. And it will!  
    But what exactly is downtime? According to The Business Dictionary, downtime is a   

    “Period during which an equipment or machine is not functional or cannot work. It may be due to technical failure, machine adjustment, maintenance, or non-availability of inputs such as materials, labor, power.”  


    So, as we can see from this definition, there are many kinds of downtime. Some, like maintenance or repairs, are usually planned. In these cases, employees and clients are usually warned and have time to prepare for a break in services.

    Others – say technical failures stemming from natural disasters – are clearly never planned. They come unannounced and often cause havoc, which is why they are the focus of this article.  
    At the same time, downtime is not always total. Sometimes, it's only partial – affecting one part of the production process, for example. However, while productivity might not cease totally, it may still have lasting effects on your business.  
    Common to all kinds of downtime is its negative impact on productivity. Indeed, according to Forbes, an incredible 82% of companies have had at least one unplanned downtime incident over the past three years.  
    Overall, unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers as much as $50 billion a year. So, it’s very understandable that all businesses are looking for solutions to manage it.  
    In this article, we’re going to explore downtime in more detail. We’ll look at the impact of unplanned downtime on businesses and how remote working software can help to prevent it and mitigate its associated losses. Let’s dive right in.

    The true cost of downtime

    For businesses of all sizes, downtime can have a range of consequences. Some are barely noticeable and temporary, while others are severe and long-lasting. Here are some of the main ones:

    Financial impact

    This is probably the most obvious consequence of unplanned downtime. And for good reason: recently, Senseye found that Fortune Global 500 manufacturing and industrial firms are experiencing losses of nearly $US 1 trillion a year because of it.  
    Aside from direct losses, downtime can also have negative consequences in the form of decreased productivity. As a result, zero unplanned downtime is now the top priority or a high priority for 72% of organizations. 
    Financially speaking, decreased customer satisfaction can also lead to negative consequences for businesses of all sizes. Which leads us on neatly to our next point.  

    Reputational impact 

    How would you feel if your chosen service provider’s delivery was patchy and unreliable? If they were constantly grappling with unplanned downtime? You’d probably find a new provider, right?  
    If handled incorrectly, unplanned downtime can lead to damaged brand image and customer trust. To counter this risk, businesses need to focus on fast response and transparency with customers. Because unplanned downtime is, unfortunately, a fact of life.

    Operational impact

    Downtime can also lead to various operational consequences. For one thing, it disrupts workflows and creates bottlenecks in production. This will lead to greater pressure on your business to make up for lost time.  
    This increased pressure can also negatively affect the morale of your employees. Trying to offset the losses of unplanned downtime, they will often have to work longer hours or deal with dissatisfied customers.  
    By the same token, downtime can also have the opposite effect. Your workers might have nothing to do and grow bored. If either scenario happens frequently enough, they – as well as your customers – might decide to go elsewhere.   
    An inability to hold onto employees also has serious financial implications. In fact, a recent study found that it costs a third of the outgoing employee's salary to replace them!  

    Ethical implications

    During downtime, the risk of data breaches escalates. This can compromise customer privacy and violate data protection laws like GDPR or CCPA. Businesses are ethically and legally bound to safeguard sensitive information, even during technical failures.  
    This means having robust cybersecurity measures, delivering data integrity, and maintaining transparent communication with stakeholders. Failure to do this not only breaches trust but can lead to legal penalties and reputational damage.  

    Strategies for proactive downtime management

    As already mentioned, downtime is a fact of life for businesses of all sizes. However, there are various strategies that can help you to prevent it and offset its negative consequences.   

    Prevention strategies

    While you can’t get rid of downtime – you're always going to need maintenance and repairs, for example – you can try to prevent unplanned downtime.  

    Some effective ways of doing this include regular system maintenance, data backups, and disaster recovery plans.  

    Consistent monitoring and early detection

    Make sure your organization has an effective remote monitoring system. This lets you catch problems early, like when your CPU is working too hard, something stops working right, or when an important software update is missing. 
    A good monitoring system keeps an eye on how well your IT infrastructure is working and how much it's being used. It tells you when you need to take a closer look at something. This way, you can fix small problems before they become downtime.

    Collaboration and communication

    To navigate unplanned downtime, you need clear communication plans in place. Effective collaboration between different teams (IT, operations, customer service) can go a long way in countering the negative implications of downtime.  

    Consider external support 

    Working with IT service or managed service providers will give you extra help and tools to better manage downtime. These partners have the tech, tools, and skilled people ready to spot and fix IT problems early. They work to prevent big issues that could shut down systems, keeping things running smoothly.  
    This external support means you have expert help on their side. You can deal with and recover from downtime with ease, without overloading your own teams. 


    For businesses of all sizes, downtime is a complex and persistent challenge. However, getting ahead of it with proactive strategies and collaboration can help to mitigate its impact.  
    One of the key takeaways of this article is that tackling downtime requires constant learning and development. In the face of evolving technologies and threats, a remote management solution can be very effective.  
    If you are running a business, you’ll know that downtime is something that must be taken seriously. Its negative impact can be disastrous. However, new remote technologies are proving a gamechanger in preventing it.  
    By integrating IT and OT systems, in particular, you’ll get the full picture of your business. This will help to prevent unplanned downtime and ensure security and compliance even when it happens.