Imagine it’s a normal day at the office. Your team is knocking out tasks left and right, your customers are spending money and accessing their online accounts, and in general, everything is right with the world. Then your server suddenly crashes. Now nothing is getting done and you’re panicking because you’ve got to get a server running and your backup data uploaded to it ASAP. You’re losing potential purchases every minute you’re network is down, plus your customers are getting upset that they can’t access anything.
This is where being proactive can help. Proactive IT maintenance gives you the chance to find and deal with aging hardware and other issues before critical failures occur. This saves you time and money. You’re not running around like crazy trying to replace anything, your customers aren’t dealing with interruptions, and your employees aren’t sitting there twiddling their thumbs while waiting for the network to be fixed.
How do you get started with proactive or preventative maintenance? This is one area where working with an MSP such as Wooden Spoon can take a lot of stress off your shoulders. Our team can work with you to understand why preventative IT maintenance is important and what you need to do to implement a maintenance schedule. Let’s take a deeper look at being proactive and what benefits it will provide.
What is Proactive IT Maintenance?
Proactive maintenance in theory is simple: you take care of any potential IT issues before they occur. You’re taking the initiative to replace aging hardware and unsupported software rather than reacting to things breaking or no longer functioning as they should.
This type of maintenance is designed to minimize downtime or allow you to control when downtime occurs. Technology can crash at any time, but it usually feels like it happens at the worst possible time every time. Your server goes down right in the middle of your busiest season of the year or you have a drive fail when you’re up against a deadline and need the data on it. Sure, you have a backup, but it may take some time to restore your data to a new drive if you have a new drive on hand.
There are many benefits to proactive maintenance, most of which deal with downtime and unexpected failures. In order to understand the value of preventative maintenance, we need to look at the cost of reactive maintenance.
How Costly is Downtime?
It’s hard to measure how costly downtime is because you’re typically losing intangible things: productivity, customer interest, customer satisfaction, and potential purchases. You can quantify some of these things. For example, if you have a purchase made every two hours and your IT infrastructure is down for four hours, you could assume you lost two sales. Productivity may be more difficult to measure, though you could put a number on it by multiplying your employees’ hourly wages by the amount of time your system was down.
Regardless of whether or not you do the math, one thing is very clear: downtime reduces your productivity and your potential income. Proactive maintenance can prevent this.
How Proactive IT Maintenance Eliminates or Reduces Downtime and Saves You Money
There are a few different ways proactive IT maintenance will save you money. The biggest reason it reduces downtime and saves you money is that it greatly reduces unexpected issues. Unplanned crashes, outages, and other issues often leave you scrambling and rarely occur at convenient times.
Prevents system failures
System failures are an unexpected crash that has a major impact on your company. When a server goes down, if you don’t have a backup ready to bring online, your office may not be able to do much of anything. Customers may no longer have access to some or all of their online accounts, and everything could come to a standstill while you wait for a new server or for a backup to be restored.
Proactive maintenance involves keeping track of how old hardware is and planning out when it should be replaced. When you know a hard drive or server is starting to reach the end of its lifecycle, you replace it before it can crash. This allows you to take the drive, server, or other item offline when you want to, so you can avoid it being unavailable during your busiest times. Many companies do this in the evening or on weekends. You can let your employees and customers know when a service will be unavailable and for how long. This helps manage customer expectations so they don’t become irritated and light up your customer service phone lines.
Minimizes unexpected IT expenses
With unexpected crashes typically come unexpected expenses. Your primary local server just went down? You need a replacement yesterday. That often means paying for expedited shipping and buying whatever you can get your hands on, which could be costly. With planned maintenance, you can order ahead of time and take advantage of specials or other savings.
Gives you time to research
Similarly, planning out your replacements and upgrades gives you time to research and plan out what you need. If you’re reacting to an emergency, you may look for something very similar to what you had. However, if you have time to plan, you might look for upgrades or even new tech that replaces what you’re using. Maybe new hardware has emerged that can do what your aging item does plus more. Why not consider making the switch? If this new hardware is more expensive, which it probably is, this gives your IT team time to do all the research and determine if it’s worth the cost.
Prevents lost sales
Every minute your system is inaccessible to your customers means a potential sale is lost. It doesn’t matter if you sell online or in a store—if customers can’t make purchases, you’re losing money. It’s as simple as that. With proactive maintenance, you determine when this occurs. Take a look at your data to see when most of your sales occur, then schedule maintenance for the time when no one’s shopping. This could be late at night or early in the morning. There might be a particular day of the week that, for whatever reason, is typically dead.
Whenever it is, it’s the perfect opportunity to do maintenance. Just remember to put up a notice that your system will be down for a set amount of time. Even if no one shops then, it’s still good manners to let people know.
Keeps your reputation intact
In addition to being a business owner, you’re also a shopper. How frustrated do you get when you can’t complete a purchase because something isn’t working right? This is exactly how your customers feel when they can’t access your system. If it happens more than once, especially in a short amount of time, a customer may quickly become a former customer. People have little patience with technological failures, and they will let you know how annoyed they are by going to a competitor that isn’t plagued with these issues.
More than losing a customer, though, you also lose a brand ambassador. Customers who are very happy with your company will let others know. They will recommend you or say nice things when someone asks. On the other hand, a customer who has dealt with one too many error messages is going to let people know how annoyed they are. They may leave one-star reviews online or spread negative word of mouth. Either way, your reputation takes a hit, and that can impact future growth.
Wooden Spoon Can Help You Create a Proactive IT Maintenance Schedule
What does proactive maintenance require? The hardest part is creating a list of all of your hardware and when you purchased it. You may not know when some hardware was purchased, especially if it’s fairly old. In that case, you may want to go ahead and replace it now or schedule it for replacement within the first year. You also want to note the condition of each item. This can take some time, but it only has to be done once. After you have this list, you’ll continually remove items you’ve replaced and add new items you’ve added to your infrastructure.
The first year you implement proactive maintenance, you may spend more than average on replacing hardware if you have a lot of items that are older or that seem to be in below-average condition. Typically, the following years will cost less because you’ll have fewer items to replace. You can even stagger some replacements to spread around the cost and keep your budget under control. No matter how you do it, the cost is still much less than the cost of sudden failure.
Creating a proactive IT maintenance schedule can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. By working with Wooden Spoon, you get access to all of our previous experiences. We will be there with you every step of the way, whether it’s coaching you through building a proactive maintenance schedule or designing your IT infrastructure for the first time. Reach out today to learn how we can help you with proactive maintenance and other services.