I’ve worked at my fair share of large corporations in my life, and like most of you, I’ve experienced more network and server outages than I can shake a stick at. Sometimes these outages are small and only mildly disruptive (a file server going down for a few minutes). Other times, an outage can cause massive, widespread work stoppages (such as when an email server goes offline for multiple hours — or days).
These outages are, at least for the company, bad things. If your employees can no longer communicate, work all but grinds to a halt. One hour of total downtime multiplied by the average hourly pay of your employees can equal a pretty big amount of lost moolah.
Yet there’s another issue causing the same sort of loss of productivity (and money) that many companies don’t think about much: the speed of those IT services (email, file servers, company databases, etc.).
How slow systems reduce employee productivity
Let’s assume a hypothetical situation.
You’ve adopted a web-based email system. Loading that system, on average, takes 10 seconds. You have 1,000 employees across your organization. Each employee loads that web email three times per day (this is probably a gross underestimation).
That equates to, each day, 500 minutes of potential lost productivity. Over eight hours. Every day. That’s enough lost time to account for an entire person working full time.
Per year, we’re talking about 1,920 (approximately) lost hours of productivity due to your web-based email system being a teensy bit pokey. That’s roughly the equivalent of total email outages — impacting every employee in your organization — for two straight hours during peak working hours. Every year.
Email isn’t the only potential culprit here, just the most cathartic to talk about. (I think we’ve all experienced slow or flakey email systems at one company or another.) Slow file transfers across a company. Source controls systems that are annoyingly pokey. Databases (like a CRM system) that slowly refreshes the page every time you update a single record.
It all adds up. Fast.
And so often, it seems to be web-based infrastructure systems, of one kind or another, that are the slowest.
Possible solution to slow systems
Interestingly, older systems often seem to be faster than newer, fancier systems. A web-based email from 10 years ago will (usually) load like greased lightning compared to a newer, fancier system.
Sometimes it’s best, for maximum productivity and speed, to upgrade the hardware and core infrastructure (network connections, faster disks, better switches, operating system, etc.) and stick with simpler, faster-performing (which, often, means “older”) user-accessible software.
It may seem weird, but it’s true.