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Calculating the True Cost of Downtime

Too many small business owners fail to protect their computer systems and realize the mistake when it’s too late. It’s becoming more and more apparent that owners don’t fully appreciate the costs associated with technical issues. These are painful lessons that can and should be avoided. In an exclusive interview, Patrick Rardin, CEO of Eagle Feather Enterprises –  a leading technology consultant to growth companies discusses these technical issues in more detail and gives some useful tips.

1. Can you start off telling our readers a few words about yourself?

I’m originally from California and later moved to New York.  I’ve called the Empire State home for 32 years.  A portion of my childhood was spent living in Brazil where I learned and became fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.

I’ve been in the technology field for over 30 years and gain great satisfaction when IT is done right.


2. Tell us about Eagle Feather Enterprises and how your services can help small businesses improve their network reliability and efficiency?


Eagle Feather Enterprises began 17 years ago.  When I opened the company I adamantly wanted to break away from the ‘Break/Fix’ model I had been exposed to.  ‘Break/Fix’ simply means when something breaks, we run out and fix it. 


I wanted and have successfully achieved a predictive maintenance model. In essence, Eagle Feather makes sure all of our customers maintain their technology current.  In addition, we proactively monitor client systems for errors and impending problematic issues.  We address them in a timely mannerbeforethey become emergencies.


As our slogan states “We Make IT Work For You.”  This mantra has helped us build loyalty and respect of our customer base. It is important that your technology solutions not only work for you but fit your budget.  We pride ourselves in helping our customers have the necessary tools at affordable prices which allow them to operate. 


3. Too many small business owners fail to protect their computer systems and realize the mistake when it’s too late. Why is that?

It’s the same old adage, “a problem will never happen to me.”  The reality is the small business owner usually doesn’t worry about safeguarding their future.   I’ve heard this process is tedious, often complicated, and too expensive.  

The consequences can leave their operations fully exposed to the danger of costly system downtime and data recovery fees that come with technology failures.   Data loss and downtime can kill a business in a matter of days and cost companies thousands of dollars.    While businesses cannot forecast and account for unexpected natural disasters like hurricanes or floods, it’s a surprise many businesses still don’t invest in proper protection, and insure against unpredictable events to protect their business, and most importantly profits.

4. Do you think that business owners fully appreciate the costs associated with technical issues? Do they ever calculate the true cost of downtime?

Absolutely not! The costs can be varied and not just limited to catastrophic scenarios.

For example, one slow performing office computer can conservatively cost a business about $3,500 in payroll related to downtime over the year.  If we apply this same formula to a disaster scenario, a grim picture develops.   The costs can increase exorbitantly.  


5.      What steps should small business owners take to protect their operation?


  • Most important, I advise a business to invest in a reliable backup routine which includes the backup software, schedule and random testing of your computers systems. 
  • Create a Disaster Recovery/Business Continuance plan to support the office backup plan.  This is often overlooked but just as important. Some key recovery plans include:
    • Data backup, restore procedure, and offsite storage.
    • List of Office Essential Software and Applications.
    • Develop a list of equipment.  This includes an inventory of computers, monitors, printers, networking components, server, router, etc.
    • Insurance coverage: Does your office insurance cover loss of tech equipment and is the policy current?  Often expensive additions to an office infrastructure are made without the realization that your insurance is only covering what you initially started out with.  
    • Business continuance during or after a disaster: Simply put “How will we continue servicing our customers/running our business if the internet or power is out?” – Pen to paper? Generator?
    • Where will you work if offices are unreachable or without power?
    • Phone handling.  Ask yourself who will be responsible to forward phone calls to key decision makers and/ or contacts? A forwarding service must be in place prior to an “event” requiring use of them.
  • Implement good anti-virus protection – Don’t assume that brand names are the best just because they are displayed everywhere. In our experience the top two antivirus solutions on the market are our best source of revenue when it comes to virus removal.  Usually, NEW client computers are infected while using one of the top 2 brands.

    Be advised, antivirus software EXPIRES and requires attention. We constantly see computers with antivirus installed 6 years ago and never updated. The virus and security environment is constantly changing so Antivirus software must be current and up-to-date with the vendors latest definitions to help protect properly.
  • Protect your office internet access.  Be mindful of uncontrolled web browsing and the downloading of unapproved material.   This can reduce security risks which can adversely affect productivity.  It’s vital to a firm’s efficiency to use the appropriate web filtering and web security software. 


6. How can routine systems maintenance affect downtime?

Proper pro-active and even predictive maintenance of systems can dramatically reduce downtime. Predictive goes a step further by monitoring and reporting potential problemsbeforethey become major problems. Predictive maintenance affords the benefit of pre-planning and preparing for hardware replacement/upgrades in an orderly manner instead of waiting for something to crash.

7. What do small business owners need to know about the Cloud and other applications that fully leverage the power of the Cloud to protect their company’s systems and data from any random disaster?

Cloud based programs and services are a great new way to save money and improve productivity.  The “Cloud” is simply a computer or data storage facility located in separate geographic location and accessible from anywhere on the Internet. 

Pure “Cloud” based technology can be tricky and I support and encourage a hybrid “Cloud” approach. These solutions basically mirror what you might be using the “Cloud” for to a local device in your office. For example, If office access (power outage, etc.) is lost, users can remote to a cloud copy from other locations (temporary offices, their homes, etc.) and when power is restored data is synced between the two sources, cloud and in-house seamlessly. 


8. Can you please give our readers a final piece of advice?

The best advice I can offer is to know their technology environment. They don’t need to knowallthe technical intricacies but a good overview is important. How can you know what to expect from your staff if you don’t know what your technology capabilities are?

I’ll never forget years ago a new client came to me and they owned an expensive office management software program, this program was capable of managing every aspect of their business, including history, alerts, email communications just to name a few. The staff only used the program as a glorified phonebook and had a myriad of other programs they would go in and out of all day long creating numerous redundancies. Once I showed the CEO  how the system worked and what it could do, he not only was able to improve productivity, but cut two people from his staff reducing overhead and increasing performance and revenue.

The cost of executive technology apathy can be priceless!


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