The Cost of Email Downtime

Email is the primary communication and file transfer tool for most organisations. It is the backbone for a growing number of mission-critical business processes. Consider the following:

  • Three-quarters of all content sent by users flow via email.
  • The typical email user spends more than one-quarter of his or her day working in email.
  • For the majority of users, more than one-quarter of the content they need for their day-to-day work is stored on an email system.
  • * Neverfail  Group

Clearly email is highly critical to the running of most organisations and despite the growing use of social media, unified communications or instant messaging, email will continue to be the most important single tool for sharing information.

Is Email a Weakness?

While email solves many business problems by increasing the speed of communications and easing the sharing of information, user’s and organisation’s heavy reliance on email means that it must be available continuously.  The failure of an email system can carry with it a variety of quite serious consequences, including:

  • Loss of employee productivity
  • Lost business records
  • Loss of corporate reputation
  • Lost revenue

The cost of an Email Outage

While the economic consequences of email downtime can vary, it is possible to estimate the impact of downtime on employee productivity.  Using the data above and the following estimates we can assume the following:

  • The typical user spends 28% of their day working in email
  • The typical user works 1,928 hours per year
  • Productivity without email declines by 50%

Based on the assumptions above we can apply a cost to an email outage using the following formula:

(hourly salary x hours of downtime) x productivity loss during downtime = cost of downtime for one employee


As an example, if your email system is down for 1 day, you have 10 employees and the average annual salary is £20,000 the cost of downtime would be:

(£9.60 x 8) x 50% = £38.40 cost of downtime for 1 employee for a one day outage

((£9.60 x 8) x 50%) x 10 = £384.00 cost of downtime for the organisation for a one day outage


As you can see the cost to an organisation in respect of losses due to a decline in productivity quickly escalate.  However, it is important to remember that email downtime can result in dramatically higher costs, including:

  • Mobile users particularly suffer when there is an email outage.  Their dependence on email is much greater than that of an office based employee, therefore their productivity loss is larger.
  • Prospective clients who send an email and receive a bounce back are less likely to follow it up.
  • An email outage may prevent the organisation from respinding to a proposal, receiving an order or answering a client inquiry that might result in a loss of revenue.
  • IT staff are drawn to resolving the email outage as soon as possible, resulting in a loss in IT productivity and delays in other projects.

Outages are inevitable / Speed of recovery is the Key

Because email is so critical to the productivity of employees and the ability for organisations to generate revenue, the ability to recover email services quickly after an outage is absolutely critical.  However, many organisations have not implemented disaster recovery (DR) appropriate capabilities and so cannot recover quickly from an email outage.

The first step to designing an acceptable DR solution is to establish the amount of acceptable risk versus the cost of an appropriate solution. Using the formula above you are able to work out the potential loss in respect to a decline in productivity.  Next is to look at the available recovery options and apply the cost of theses solutions against the acceptable outage time to find the right solution for your business.

Professional Help

Most companies that can provide a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan often do not deliver the infrastructure for the appropriate solution. CJ Systems fill that gap.

We can design, build and manage (if required) your IT systems, so that, in a disaster, the backbone of your operations are covered – from an IT standpoint. This can be dealt with in many ways, such as:

  • IT system recovery plans.
  • Bespoke backup strategies.
  • Off-site, real-time replication.
  • Hosted critical services.

Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.



Leave a Reply