A quick read with a big impact.

The True Cost of Downtime on Your IT Help Desk

The True Cost of Downtime on Your IT Help Desk

When your IT help desk goes down, you pay for that inconvenience in more places than just your bottom line.

Help desk downtime impacts multiple areas of your organization, from security to reporting, from productivity to trust, from shadow IT to customer satisfaction – all of which can make (or break) your business.

Here are the top five costs of IT help desk downtime along with some concrete steps you can take to reduce these costs.

Five Costs of Help Desk Downtime

1. Cascading Problems

The first issue you face when your IT help desk goes down is that this event sets off a cascade of other problems. Something has happened to your environment to cause the help desk to go down, which usually means it’s not just you that’s impacted, but it’s costing everyone else as well.

This quickly cascades, with everybody trying to get through to a help desk that’s unable to respond, further impacting employee productivity and communications availability. Things can get ugly quickly.

2. Security Breaches

When your IT help desk is down, they may miss the opportunity to bolster security. For example, an employee might receive an email that looks suspicious. They call the help desk to see if the email is legitimate or if it’s a phishing attempt. The help desk is down. So, they take a chance and click on a link in the email or open the attached document. Bingo, they just gave a hacker access to your network. And all because there was no one in the help desk to warn them off from taking that action. In 2021, the average data breach costs over $4 million.

3. Loss of Reporting

When your help desk goes down, you may lose your ability to communicate out to your client community to say, “We’re aware of this and we’re working on it.” You lose your ability to report on issues. What has happened in your environment, for example? What have your teams been doing? What have individual employees been doing? You don’t know, because you can’t view the dashboards or run the reports that answer these questions.

And because you are no longer creating help desk tickets, you start losing visibility into the trends that are going on in your environment, including the scale, scope and impact of the issues.

4. Loss of Employee Productivity

As you know, IT issues hinder employee productivity. A worker who can’t access an application or a company intranet is an employee who is unable to work. That’s why—and when—they pick up the phone and contact your help desk.

But if your help desk is down, that employee (and any others needing help desk support) is stuck in limbo. They can’t get back up and running again until your help desk gets back up and running. Even the simplest requests, the ones that are the easiest and quickest to resolve (such as how to reset a password), render many employees idle and unproductive when the help desk is unavailable.

This downtime is not only costing the company in lost productivity in terms of employee cost(s), but also lost revenue opportunity when those employees can’t do their jobs to help the company generate revenue. According to Gartner, the average cost of downtime (in 2014) was $5,600 per minute.

5. Loss of Trust

If your IT help desk goes down once, briefly, you may get away with it. But if your help desk suffers frequent outages, you will create an atmosphere where your client community does not trust your help desk to be there for them when they have an issue.

This loss of trust is usually accompanied by a rise in shadow IT, where it costs others’ their time while they help these users solve their issues. As users take their IT issues into their own hands, they create multiple other issues for your organization in the process, including data breaches and fines for regulatory non-compliance.

How to Minimize Your Help Desk Downtime

The key to reducing both the number of times your IT help desk goes down and the duration of those incidents is redundancy. You need to think of your help desk as a company all on its own, with its own need for redundant systems.

Your help desk needs redundancy in three areas:

  1. Power: If your power goes off, your help desk needs a secondary source of power. This can be a battery-powered uninterrupted power supply, which lasts for a while. Or it can be generators that power your entire IT help desk until municipal power is restored.

  2. Phones: You cannot afford to rely on just one phone system or phone line. If it either goes down, you need a redundant phone system and phone lines that your phone system automatically cuts over to when the primary system goes down.

  3. Internet: The same goes for your internet connection. The more critical your help desk is, the more important it is that you have more than one way of connecting to the internet for internal and external connections.

One thing to note is that we are not talking here about disaster recovery plans, such as the plans you put in place to deal with a fire, earthquake or flood. We are talking about the redundant systems you need to have in place to deal with the technical issues that impact your help desk. So, don’t think disaster. Think simple downtime.

Implementing multiple redundant systems (power, phones, internet) comes with its own costs, which can be out of reach for most small to medium-size businesses (and even some larger enterprises). The closer you get to wanting foolproof redundancy, the more you must expect to pay.

How Outsourcing Your Help Desk Reduces the Costs of Downtime

What you may not know is that you can eliminate many of these costs of help desk downtime by outsourcing your help desk. 

This is because third-party help desks have already made the necessary investments in redundant power supplies, backup phone lines, and secondary and tertiary internet connections.

Outsourced help desks that guarantee their monthly service desk SLAs can do so because they already have the costly systems in place to guarantee they will be up and running when you need them. When your power or your networks go down, their power and their networks stay up. 

This means a superior help desk experience, lower capital expenditures, reduced risk, peace of mind, major capacity gains within your IT team, and a reduced total cost of IT support.

The cost of help desk downtime can be measured in dollars and cents, but it can also be measured in satisfaction, security, productivity and knowledge. That’s why businesses need to make sure their help desk has the support it needs to stay up and running, no matter what.

If you need to reduce the costs of help desk downtime, read our e-book: Measuring Your Real Help Desk ROI: 4 Steps to a Better Analysis.

Help Desk ROI: It's Not Just Financial