Firms bedevilled by PC problems

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The Independent Online
Every employee who uses a personal computer can lose the equivalent of three weeks' working time every year as a result of problems with the technology, according to a survey commissioned by SCO, a software company.

The survey carried out by Harris research among 400 PC users in medium- sized and large companies in Europe discovered that the lost time was chiefly due to new systems' implementation, malfunctions with the machine or desktop, and personal misuse.

The report published last week also revealed that 71 per cent of respondents are frustrated by their PCs when they do not work and that three of the four most commonly experienced reasons for computers failing are network and software upgrade problems.

Geoff Seabrook, a senior vice-president with SCO, said: "The companies we spoke to have focused all the headaches associated with the maintenance and upgrading of PCs on the user at his desk. All the power of the system is available locally on the actual PC. Consequently, the latest software isn't empowering these users - it is disrupting their working day."

He says that this is supported by the fact that on average an additional 105 minutes is wasted, per employee each week, during the first month after a new system is installed. Additional lost time may result from lack of support on site or inadequate training. Among the additional findings are that many employees claim using PCs causes tiredness and eye-strain and that new technologies require them to work harder.

However, despite the longer hours, employee attitudes are mainly positive, with more than 90 per cent regarding PCs as vital to their working life and 97 per cent regarding them as essential if companies are to improve efficiency.

Moreover, SCO, which says it has developed a new model for personal computing, calculates that the cost of using this sort of technology is much higher than is generally realised and is rising all the time. It estimates that - as well as the stressed employees and the lost time - running costs are very high, as much as pounds 9m a year for a company of 1,000 employees.

By comparison, it reckons that the cost in lost time to a management consultancy charging pounds 500 a day for each one of its professionals is pounds 7.5m a year.