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Prepare for Planned and Unplanned Downtime

Published on October 14, 2021

Although technology has penetrated every aspect of our lives, it plays the most significant role in business. The technological revolution we all experience generated numerous opportunities for resourceful organisations to streamline business processes and reduce the workforce. Nevertheless, this constant stream of innovative solutions also created many new problems that never bothered business owners in the past. Probably the most frustrating out of all these issues is dealing with downtime.

Whether they need to account for planned or unplanned downtime, many businesses are unsure of the best way to handle this situation. As a result, their organisations suffer from poor communication with customers. Additionally, their staff spends long hours taking care of machines, dealing with sudden network outages, and performing general system maintenance.

You do not have to share the same fate. When critical failures start piling up, or the date of your scheduled planned downtime draws closer, the most important thing is to keep your composure and act according to the plan. If you make some much-needed preparations before the downtime occurs, you will have a much easier time surviving this challenging period and avoiding costly mistakes. Here are some key elements you should consider.

Learn the Difference Between Unplanned and Planned Downtime

Planned downtime is when organisations seize production and focus on installing software upgrades, inspecting the machines, and other maintenance-related tasks. For example, a company can decide to commit a few hours every month strictly for testing the tools used by its employees, such as communication systems and the internet network. The primary aim of this process is to prevent equipment failure and other complications from happening in the future.

Unplanned downtime, on the other hand, has nothing to do with scheduled maintenance of equipment. Instead, it is an inability to provide services because of events outside of the organisation's control. An excellent example of such a situation would be losing connection with the server due to an unexpected power outage. All in all, unplanned downtime is a sudden occurrence that can significantly harm the performance of any organisation.

Prioritise Your Assets

Whether you want to prepare for planned or unplanned downtime, one of the critical steps you should take is to create a list of your assets and sort them from the most to less important ones. This way, you will know which resources you have to address in the first place during downtime.

For instance, if you deem team management software the central asset of your company, you should prioritise getting it up and running as soon as possible. It is especially crucial during unplanned downtime, which can be caused by various factors, including machine jams, weather conditions, human error, etc. In such circumstances, you should know which operations you have to manage first to keep productivity at a satisfactory level.

Implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Standard operating procedures are the backbone of every successful support system. They exist for one primary reason — to ensure everyone on the team knows what to do at any time. As such, they are a major help in case of downtime. The subjects they may cover are plenty, from performing hardware maintenance to dealing with unexpected delays and lost data.

Before scheduling planned downtime, you should outline every operation your employees need to perform during this time in SOPs. Doing this will minimise the period of stopped production. Besides, it will maximise the benefits and lower the scheduled maintenance costs in the process.

Identify Your Problem Areas

It might not be breaking news for you, but many organisations forget that every business has a unique structure and flaws. As a result of these flaws, while some organisations could have difficulties making their work environment more welcoming, others might find challenges such as handling power outages and implementing new solutions much more threatening to their survival.

To not let your organisation drown in unnecessary downtime costs, you should identify your problem areas and address them in a planned and organised manner. Take a look at every service and product your company provides and assess its maintenance costs, how its absence can impact the production, and how quick you can get it back to its regular state following an outage.

Thanks to this method, whether you planned your downtime beforehand or not, you will know which services and systems will require more work than others to get them back on the schedule. Moreover, the cost of the whole operation will be significantly lower, as you will be aware of the problem way before it appears.

The Bottom Line

No matter in which industry you operate, sooner or later, you will have to schedule planned downtime or become a victim of a sudden event that will force you to cease operations and address the issue. In situations like these, it is crucial to keep calm and proceed according to the plan.

You can get your business ready for unplanned and planned downtime by learning the difference between them and estimating what service or data is your company's most precious asset. Additionally, you might want to create helpful SOPs and identify your problem areas.

If you follow the steps we mentioned, every downtime you schedule will become much less of a challenge. Similarly, sudden events like power outages will not be as much of a threat to your organisation.