Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weekly dose of IT related problems

According to news here in Finland every employee uses 53 minutes every week on average for solving IT related problems. Taking into account that some of us do this for work, and others even seems to work to create problems with IT i'm surprised the figure is not bigger.

The figure comes from research commissioned by Microsoft and performed by TNS Gallup in small or mid size finnish companies. The original press release can be found here, if you are interested and know finnish.

What the press release brings forward as noteworthy is that of the 22 % responders saying that they experience lots of IT related problems, being among the smallest and newest companies around, e-mail and office programs was causing most of the problems... The research however fails to state how many of those experiencing the problems use Microsoft products already or if there is any correlation.

One hour a week is reported to be a significant number. In Finnish small medium size companies that hour translates into 340 000 man days wasted per month as reported in the press release. That number seems already big and frightening, but in reality it is perhaps not all that much. 53 minutes every 5 days is 636 seconds per day, or between 10 and 11 minutes a day, that does not sound that much, or? Comparing 636 seconds to the 27 000 seconds spent at work every day is not a big deal, its just 2,4 % of the time.

Lets try to verify the calculation... Research stated that IT problems causes people to user 53 minutes every 5 days, fair enough, that would be 636 seconds per day. Assuming that every month has 21.5 working days, in reality it will vary between 19 and 23, depending on month and what kind of days off we have during a month... So, if we take 636 seconds, times 21,5 days per mont and multiplies that with 717 000 people working in the small medium size companies according to the source mentioned in the article, we get 9 804 258 000 seconds wasted per month, which sounds big. if we divide by 60 to get minutes, and further by 60 to get hours and again with 7,5 to get days i arrive at around 363 000 days wasted per month. Well probably the researcher calculated this some other assumption, perhaps taking vacations or holidays into account... Figure is well in the same ballpark.

I guess this could be compared to overlong coffee breaks, lunch breaks and other breaks with the difference that experiencing IT problems is not fun. A motivating work atmosphere was however mentioned as the most important factor making people efficient in their job for 95 %. Perhaps having long coffee breaks and lunch breaks or whatever gets the motivation into the work place is what we should consider. I guess workers simply compensate for the time taken by IT problems to some extent.
The research does not state how much of that time is unpaid overtime. Im however somehow doubting that Microsoft selling more Exchange or Office would decrease the time spent dealing with IT related problems in small or midsize companies. I feel the real issue here is the frustration and demotivation experiencing IT problems is having, not the time spent as such.

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