The costs associated with business downtime


While we do all we can to protect against it, the truth is that business downtime does occur — often causing a huge impact in terms of monetary loss. Our growing technological dependence means one minor misconfiguration or full-scale system failure can lead to significantly reduced productivity — or worse still, complete business shutdown.

However, while we’re aware of the implications of business downtime, do we really understand how much it costs?

Examining this is process manufacturing software provider Datawright, who has investigated the total expense of business downtime and the results are in:

Business downtime: an overview

552 man hours are lost every year in Europe as a result of IT and technology problems. Reportedly, this downtime results in a 37% drop in revenue generation, as the critical tools for business success are made unavailable.

We know that unplanned downtime can have an impact on sales and productivity, how does it alter in various sectors? A number of factors can influence this impact including the number of staff affected, the impact on productivity, how long the downtime lasts for and the cost per employee per hour.

Let’s use a manufacturing scenario for example. In the UK, the average manufacturer takes home £29,419 a year or £15.32 per hour, based on a 40-hour 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.

Alongside this salary-based loss, manufacturers could also suffer from a loss in potential revenue. 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.

What causes business downtime and how to prevent it?

Before you can start preventing business downtime, you need to establish the causes. 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.

The following tips will help you prevent the costs associated with business downtime:

Software updates

Software failure is one of the main causes of business downtime. Clicking ‘remind me later’ on your software updates 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.

Outdated software is similarly risky. 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 relevant.


Continued use may leave your hardware unsuitable for its purpose. 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.

Combat this with predictive and preventative maintenance, which will help identify when issues will arise and allow you to put the right precautionary measures in place.

Staff training

Staff training is important in preventing to some extent human error. Ensure that all employees are fully aware how to use the technology and software they require for their role to prevent against issues like this from arising.

Increasing your awareness of business downtime and its associated costs can help you minimise the impact it has.


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