Downtime: Do You Know How Much It’s Costing Your Business?

Duncan Cooke

Duncan Cooke

At the risk of stating the obvious, downtime can be a nightmare for security personnel who are tasked with ensuring the protection of a company or an organisation’s assets, people and property, writes Duncan Cooke.

Access control and video surveillance solutions, as well as fire safety, intruder and perimeter protection systems, all need to be working as close to 100% of the time as possible, but they’re increasingly reliant on software-based management. As a result, even a well-designed and maintained system can be vulnerable to downtime because of a simple server fault.

Have you ever had mission-critical or high-security software applications installed at your site(s)? What happens if one of these applications goes down? How does this impact your security operations and your business as a whole? Across the spectrum of industries, one thing all companies are likely to agree on is that the cost of unplanned downtime is quite substantial, but how is the cost of any such downtime actually measured? Well, that depends on your individual business.

The cost of downtime can be represented by loss of production, confidential data, brand reputation and, potentially, lives. The most common way to represent the cost of downtime is in £s and pence. How much money is your business losing with every minute, hour, day or more when your systems are down?

Surprisingly, many companies are not tracking downtime cost with any quantifiable metrics. This means most will not know what an outage costs until it occurs and, by then, it’s too late to prevent such an incident. 

Prevention is key

Preventing downtime is a huge motivator behind measuring it. When companies know how much they’re losing, then they know what kind of preventative measures they need to take. When businesses lose huge chunks of money for even a minute of unplanned downtime, that’s when they begin their search for a solution. 

We’ve developed an online Cost-of-Downtime Calculator. This tool will help security professionals figure out the full financial impact of downtime on a business. It was created for the US market and so the cost is represented in US$, but it will nevertheless give a good indication in cash terms of the cost of downtime.

While the protection of people, assets and property is of paramount importance, video surveillance and access control are increasingly being used in support of compliance issues and, as a result, any unplanned downtime could have a major impact on operational activity. Indeed, the consequential costs of downtime could be far greater than first appears.

What’s the impact of, let’s say, just 0.05% (one twentieth of 1%) of downtime in a year? The answer is approximately five hours of lost security data, the threat of which could easily keep anyone who’s tasked with ensuring the protection of a company’s assets, people and property up at night. The Cost-of-Downtime Calculator will afford you an estimate of the likely cost here.

Heightened security awareness has meant that, more than ever, it’s crucial for the individual parts of an integrated solution, as well the system as a whole, to be continuously available.

Duncan Cooke is Business Development Manager (UK and Europe) at Stratus Technologies

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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