Minimizing Downtime Around the Holidays

Two different types of downtime exist for many businesses during the holiday season: employee downtime and IT downtime. 

While everyone else in the company is taking paid time-off,  busy thinking about ugly sweaters and eggnog, IT professionals are trying to figure out how to keep the company operating smoothly through the entire holiday season. 

Let’s take a look at some techniques that will keep your holiday season both profitable and merry!


Peak Business Stability

The holidays are often the best time of year for many businesses, where sales are at an annual high. But every year there are major companies making headlines for websites and payment processing systems which crash from the massive amounts of increased traffic. 

The consequences can be dire if a payment system or e-commerce website shuts down amid the flurry of holiday commerce. Not only will you lose money, but also the customers’ trust. It’s hard to win over customer loyalty and build a brand… the last thing you want is to lose all of that effort in one fell swoop during the holidays. 


Infrastructure and Uptime

Safeguard and guarantee your business’s holiday performance with a Service Level Agreement with your payment service provider and other critical platforms. These are standard, but pay attention to the minute details. For example, the difference between a decimal such as 99% uptime versus 99.999% is exponential. Whereas 99% might be around 7 hours of downtime each month, 99.999% is close to 26 seconds each month. 

Next, you’ll want to make sure your payment system is set up on a reliable network infrastructure. Ask your provider what their backup network configuration looks like, it should be “Active-Active” which means the backup network automatically takes effect when the primary network fails. 

Consider the number of data centers you payment service provider has: generally, the more the better. Also, a very important consideration is how many transactions can your PSP handle? A good provider can add additional gateways as needed during peak season. Something many CIOs fail to investigate is: who is your PSP’s ISP (Internet Service Provider)? Make sure it's reputable and reliable. 


Last Minute Solutions

It’s likely a bit late in the game to overhaul your PSP or other systems in preparation for the upcoming holiday season. However, there are steps you can take that will help your IT systems survive the season:

  • Add additional cloud-based services for specific dates such as Cyber Monday. 
  • Audit your DDoS mitigation capabilities… hackers love the holiday season!
  • Confirm all of your concerns with a consulting firm that specializes in protecting IT operations.
  • Consider a hybrid cloud setup for next season to maximize security and dependability. 


Employee Uptime

Your employees are gearing up for some well-deserved rest, so long as the in-laws aren’t in town for the holidays! But for CIOs and managers, it can be a frustrating time when you want to increase productivity. 

Here are a few ways to help keep employees productive and minimize resistance during the holiday season:

  • Be sure to communicate the downtime policy. This starts with new hire orientation and should be reminded to all staff ahead of the holidays. 
  • Prepare for the inevitable PTO requests and start a to-do list of critical tasks to be done ahead of any vacation time. Try offering rewards and incentives for employees who tackle their assigned “pre-holiday” tasks. 
  • Give your employees the gift of an early day. Surprising salaried employees with a short workday is a welcome surprise that can boost long-term productivity (along with morale). 


The Light at the End of the Holiday Tunnel

Keep your eye on the prize and push through; you may not be able to do everything, but at least you’ll survive until January. Set important KPIs ahead of time. Then make sure to measure, record, and evaluate these KPIs, in order to better prepare for next season.