Building Operating Management

Identifying Levels of Support, Measuring Productivity Loss Help Determine ‘Acceptable Downtime’

Part 2 of a 4-part article detailing a step-by-step process to help facility managers determine the real impact of downtime

For the facility manager, key pieces of information in identifying and understanding which of their operations are critical include the levels of support needed for such operations and the quantification of lost productivity.

Levels of Support

For every critical operation, two levels of support are essential: the service and the systems. A service is a grouping of systems designed to provide a specific deliverable required to directly support the business output. A system is the grouping of equipment, components, parts, and human resources used to deliver the specific service; multiple systems that are interconnected, operating independently or synchronously, may be involved in delivery of the services and any required redundancy. When documenting services, identify everything required to support the business output, capturing any unidentified or misclassified critical systems.

It’s also necessary to pinpoint the primary and redundant critical systems. A redundant system is designed to operate for a limited time; as a result, the run time has to be documented. When calculating run time, do not include maintenance steps to keep the systems operating for an extended time, such as refueling of generators.

Another key piece of information is the system owner and point of contact. Many times, system owners, once identified, report that supposedly "critical" systems have been replaced or taken out of service.

Bottom-Line Impact

The negative impact of a disruption in business output can be quantified by converting lost productivity into a financial measurement. The first step is to identify a unit of productivity. For most operations, the losses will be in minutes, hours, or days, but other measures can also be used, such as units produced, quantity lost, or cost of units not being sold per hour. The unit of productivity can be used to calculate the financial impact per unit. It is possible to have multiple productivity measurements based on each business output.

Once the productivity measurement and the potential financial loss of the disruption are defined, it is possible to determine the financial impact of a disruption. This creates a financial baseline to use when making decisions.

The financial information makes it possible to define "acceptable downtime" — that is, the maximum time that output can be lost without the business being permanently damaged. Once the acceptable downtime and the impact of any downtime have been calculated, unbiased decisions supported by facts can be made about the critical operation.

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  posted on 7/11/2015   Article Use Policy