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Mitigating the Costs of IT Downtime by Being Prepared


This is a series of posts on ways to mitigate the costs of IT downtime by improving communication. As the proverb goes, “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is now.” Ask PG&E if an ounce of prevention might have prevented a ton of heartache.

The Costs of IT Downtime

You don’t have to tell anybody that IT downtime is a problem for any company, but you can bet that defining the cost of that downtime can change the conversation about how and when to deal with it.

The costs associated with IT downtime are well documented and rising as businesses become increasingly interconnected and IT-dependent. Though there’s a large swing between industries and even independent businesses, estimated average costs for system outages range from $4,330 to $5,600 per minute.

Where does that money go?

  • IT productivity and overtime for detection and resolution
  • Other labor shrinkage & overtime for users waiting for systems to come online
  • Labor for manual data entry during & after downtime
  • Lost income due to unavailability to customers

Understanding the Costs

Systems, of course, will go down. So, the best way to reduce the costs of that downtime is to decrease Mean Time to Repair (MTTR). That process begins well before any incident occurs.

MTTR is often broken down into phases. “Mean Time to Know” (MTTK) is generally the most costly. It’s also the place where communication inefficiency provides the best opportunity for reducing MTTR.

One of the biggest problems organizations fall prey to is that different departments develop their own communication systems over time. When this happens in a silo, different departments’ systems don’t mesh. Additionally, because some specific types of incidents are rare, organizations don’t go to the trouble of defining which staff have skill sets requisite to fixing different problems.

So, here’s a picture of what happens: Each system team relies on its own phone tree for emergencies, while non-IT staff use a pager system. The after-hours call center sends email to SMS to reach critical staff, and nobody knows who to contact when the customer facing program goes down at 10pm.

Spotty cell service prevents the delivery of some messages. Other messages are blocked on certain carriers as a result of being blacklisted from over-reliance on email-to-SMS. Plus, the phone tree hasn’t been updated in a year, and nobody can find Jane’s number.

In this scenario, secondary problems play out. Because of different outages and a lack of contact prioritization, everybody gets every call or message from every department at all hours. When this is the norm, staff become desensitized and may ignore messages or even turn off their phones overnight.

Multiply every minute of that outage times an average of $4,300 to $5,600.

How to Reduce the Costs of IT Downtime

In a fully manual world, a “perfect” system would require that phone trees account for all types of IT system and human dependencies. Who do you call when scheduling goes down? Who do you call when the records system is unavailable? What if nobody can tell if the problem is hardware or software?

There was a time when the perfect system required cobbling manual solutions together and writing books of complex documentation to ensure the right people were notified at the right times. Delivery confirmation meant someone answered a ringing phone, full stop.

Today, interdependent systems move too fast and cost too much to rely on manual systems. Costs of downtime only rise, so the speed of automation is a necessity

Fortunately, technology provides the opportunity to solve for the same complexity it introduces. With proper planning, it is possible to create and update notification groups for specific needs so that only the right people are notified. Often those notifications are generated and delivered automatically to the right people. No more waking the wrong people at 2 AM because the phone tree or the schedule didn’t get updated.

The right software uses a single system to message critical personnel in different departments on multiple devices at the same time, confirming receipt and allowing the right people to claim tasks so it’s clear who is working on what. No more waiting because John thought Jane was already working on the solution.

HipLink software is an ounce of prevention that preempts the need for a pound of cure. Our intuitive user interface allows a single end-user to notify the right people at the right time and with minimal effort, and automated messaging for IT outages makes sure no time is wasted finding out who needs to know. HipLink ensures maximum efficiency of your systems and minimizes your downtimes and their costs.

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