The hidden cost of software: how I lose €2055 annually

This week I was re-installing Windows, something that you almost have to do annually to keep your computer fast and bug free. Then I realized that there is a hidden cost to software, in my case €2,055.-a year, a cost that should be considered when purchasing not just Windows, but any piece of software. We have an old Acer 5920 laptop with Windows installed, We only use it for media and DVDs for the kids. However it has become really slow so it was time for the annual re-install. Of course this meant trouble was on the horizon. The windows restore didn’t work, partitions weren’t recognized etc. So then I finally managed to get a clean install, I ran Windows update and after installing 101 updates the laptop wouldn’t boot anymore. So I had spent 3 hours and had to start all over again. Now, after doing it again, for some reason it seems to be working. Then I realized that not only was I losing time with the machine I was re-installing. I am actually losing time on a daily basis. Typing this post in MS Word is costing me time because every once in a while the text entry lags. During the day I constantly have to wait for a number of things: Opening of MS Office applications, opening of files etc. Then the context menu (right clicking in windows explorer) always takes such a long time (how hard can it be???). I guess each one of us has their own stories of how they are slowed down. But what is the real cost of this? Let’s say that I have to re-install every Windows laptop in my house (2 laptops) once a year and it takes me 2 evenings: 6 hours. Then on average I lose 15 min each workday waiting for stuff or looking for fixes to problems I have with software. Now let’s do the math comparing me to a peer (a post-MBA consultant).

I lose 68.5 hours a year

Skip the next lines if you don’t care about the calculation. So how much time do I loose per year because of software? A post-MBA consultant works 226 days per year: (52 weeks x 5 days – 25 vacation days and – 9 bank holidays in 2014). Let’s take those 226 days per year (I work more because I am an entrepreneur ;-). I lose 15 min each day on software which means 56.5 hours per year. Then I have to re-install on average our 2 laptops per year = 12 hours. This means a total of 68.5 hours per year.

The value of my time

Let’s value my time at the post-MBA level at €30,- per hour. Again, skip the next 5 lines if you don’t care about the calculation. The calculation: A post-MBA consultant easily makes €70,000 per year (not me, I’m an entrepreneur 😉 and as said earlier, works 226 days per year. Consultants easily work 12 hours per day so that makes for 226 days x 12 hours = 2712 hours per year. Divide that by the salary of €80,000 and you get an average hourly wage of around €30,-

I lose €2,055.- per year

So loosing 68.5 hours per year with a value that of €30.- means €2,055.- lost per year. Perhaps I should send an invoice to someone ;-). Of course this loss doesn’t include immaterial losses like irritations, lost documents and me snaring at people. This is only the time I spend waiting, looking for fixes and re-installing laptops. Also my calculation assumes I could actually spend that time productively instead. But… Even if my calculation is 75% off, it’s still an amount that is worth this blog post 😉

The Mac argument

Of course apple fans out there are now thinking: this guy should make the switch to Mac and all his troubles will be over, but hold on a moment. We now have one MacBook air in the house (my wife) and I must admit she doesn’t have the same trouble… However, her MacBook air is also becoming slower. Recently I spend 1 hour fixing Facetime because Apple had a versioning issue. Then the thing that has kept me away from mac the most is: the learning curve. I would have to re-learn so many shortcuts, programs etc. Also I use MS office a lot which is a whole different experience on the mac. So making the switch could also easily add up to an interesting cost. Also we have to give it to Microsoft that they can support thousands of configurations and systems whereas Mac only supports their own hardware. So sorry Mac enthusiasts no Mac for me any time soon. Perhaps once Microsoft starts making their own laptops my troubles will be over…

The hidden cost of software.

In this post, I have only considered time-lost because of my operating system and MS Office. But of course this goes for any kind of software: Just consider this hidden cost of time lost for an entire employee-base in the case of a CRM, ERP, Project-Management, Marketing or any kind of software.

It’s definitely something we at Treeveo will need to take into account for our customers as we build the next version of our product.

So the next time you select a system, perhaps you should think about: The hidden cost of Software.