As a successful business, you have a few overarching goals: to be profitable, to have productive and satisfied employees, and to have happy return customers. These elements all go hand-in-hand and they all ultimately require the same foundation.

An integral part of that foundation today is having software that works for you and helps your company run smoothly and efficiently. For many companies, that means having a cloud-based CMMS.

When properly implemented and executed, moving your CMMS to the cloud can help your business increase engagement and revenue while improving performance, security and reliability.

Here, we explore key differences between on-premise vs cloud-based systems and discuss the benefits of a cloud-based implementation.

The Old Guard: On-Premise Systems

Ten, 20 or even 30 years ago, all companies had on-premise hardware – systems that run off of on-site computers and work in one discrete location. This was the only option available, and therefore the go-to option. Today, these on-premise solutions continue to offer certain benefits:

  • Availability/Reliability: If you have a good staff and exceptional hardware, on-premise solutions can be highly available and very reliable.
  • Speed: On-premise solutions generally work with local servers, which means that speed can be well-managed and controlled.
  • Security: On-premise systems give organizations total control over things like security and access, which is important for businesses in high-profile or privileged industries.
  • Controlled Cost: There is a one-time purchasing fee and that is it, which can prevent cost from snowballing over time.

There are some cases in which these benefits prove significant and make an on-premise solution the ideal choice. For most modern businesses, though, the pros simply do not outweigh the cons.

Why On-Premise Systems Do Not Cut it for Many Businesses Today

Even technology that was considered to be “the latest and greatest” three to five years ago just is not competitive or efficient in many environments today. Additionally, these legacy on-premise systems come with intrinsic structural and functional limitations. They:

  • Cannot effectively scale and customize as a company evolves.
  • Come with a lack of mobility and accessibility, leading to communication and flexibility issues that decrease productivity over time.
  • Do not integrate well with other systems, which can lead to inconsistent or incomplete data. This, in turn, can hobble a company’s ability to switch to data-driven, analytics-heavy operations — and that is what business today is all about.
  • Require manual patches and security updates that could lead to compromising security concerns.
  • Often call for complex coding and a huge amount of technical know-how to be properly implemented, managed and troubleshooted.

These problems are only getting worse as time goes on and cloud technology improves, which means that sticking with these systems can, in many cases, significantly hurt your revenue and your bottom line.

Specific Limitations of an On-Premise CMMS System

On-premise CMMS software, in particular, comes with its own range of limitations. You need to:

  • Provide the IT infrastructure to run the CMMS application
  • Configure your networks to enable users to access the CMMS
  • Regularly install upgrades or security patches

All of this requires time, money and internal bandwidth. And if the hardware ever fails, you could wind up waiting hours or days to get up and running again – if you even have the manpower or technological skill to manage this kind of concern.

The Move to the Cloud

The term “the cloud” usually refers to a network of servers, each of which has a specific function or purpose. When individuals or companies move something to the cloud, they are generally making a switch to cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Benefits of Cloud Systems for Businesses Today

Cloud-based tools today are secure, efficient, scalable, agile and cost-effective systems that make digital transformation and company-wide modernization a breeze.

General cloud benefits include:

  • Security: Cloud providers are generally very vigilant about staying on top of patches and other security protocols – and these updates are usually automatic, which can be especially important in today’s climate.
  • Scalability: Hardware is expensive and taking it out of the equation can provide a level of scalability and flexibility that on-premise software just cannot match.
  • Connectivity: The cloud is a fairly connectable ecosystem, which means that it will be easy to manipulate and store data across devices and technologies.
  • Lower price: Cloud solutions are usually run on monthly or annual subscriptions, meaning there is substantially less up-front cost.
  • Availability/Reliability: If you have a strong provider, cloud solutions can have a very quick uptime and improved ease-of use.

That is why most businesses have at least some cloud components in their infrastructure. In fact, according to a recent survey:

  • 93% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 81% in 2018.
  • Public cloud adoption increased to 94% in 2019, 92% in 2018, up from 89% in 2017.
  • 59% of enterprises expect cloud usage to exceed prior plans due to COVID-19.

The Benefits of a Cloud-Based CMMS

A cloud-based CMMS offers many benefits that, according to the 2020 Benchmarks & Best Practices for Maintenance Management, can empower companies with effective preventive maintenance programs. These include:

Mobile Capabilities

You need physical proximity to connect to an on-premise CMMS, which means you will either be limited in your access or you will need to spend IT resources setting up a site-to-site VPN. With a cloud-based CMMS, your provider will host the software, manage databases and monitor performance. All you need is a browser and internet connection to access the software across devices, locations and people.

This allows for more freedom as users can work on their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone as necessary. Mobile access, in particular, also increases company-wide efficiency as it also allows for real-time updates, up-to-the-minute communication and accurate record keeping.

Increased Scalability

A cloud-based CMMS also allows for increased flexibility and scalability according to your current needs and bandwidth. This resolves a huge drawback of an on-premise system: once you buy the system, it is difficult to implement and nearly impossible to scale.

With a cloud-based CMMS, on the other hand, you can scale and upgrade with just a few clicks. Additionally, you can add or remove users quickly and easily as the makeup of your team continues to evolve. These features help ensure that you have the right amount of computing power no matter the size of your business.

Advanced Security

An ongoing concern with cloud applications – both for professional and personal use – is security.

That said, with a cloud-based CMMS, security updates and system upgrades are automatic, hands-off processes. All you need to do is log in and accept the update – and sometimes, even this part is automated. Plus, your important information is automatically backed up on a regular basis, and if you have a system malfunction, your vendor should provide support and troubleshooting assistance.

This is a far cry from an on-premise system, which requires manual upgrades, extra fees and additional wait time to carry out updates. This can be a particularly trying inefficiency, especially given the fact that, with an on-premise system, your sensitive data is stored in-house and therefore vulnerable to threats.

On top of that, updates must be physically installed and configured in your servers, and this delay can cost time, money and safety.

User-Friendly Systems

If your employees have a hard time implementing and using your CMMS, you will have low user adoption. That largely defeats the purpose of having the system in place, as it will lead to inconsistent data, confusion and miscommunication.

This is much more likely with an on-premise system. After you buy the system, implementation can take weeks to months: you must set up the servers, install the software and configure your network so that it works. From there, you must train your team, troubleshoot and continuously improve – which is why on-premise adoption rate is only about 39%.

With a cloud solution, on the other hand, there is no complex server set up and configuration; you simply log in and start using your CMMS. Additionally, your vendor will likely provide a knowledgebase with training tools – like video, documents and eBooks – that can help your team members familiarize themselves with the tool. This significantly increases employee satisfaction and user adoption while allowing more bandwidth for innovation.

More Cost-Effective

Cloud adoption can lead to savings for many reasons:

  • Lower up-front costs: On-premise systems require up-front cost of the hardware, licensing and network configuration. With cloud software, there is no up-front payment. Instead, it is a monthly subscription to access software that is hosted on your vendor’s servers.
  • Increased employee efficiency: On-premise systems generally require more troubleshooting, which leads to decreased employee efficiency and satisfaction.
  • Lower software maintenance costs: With a cloud system, maintenance costs fall on your vendor’s shoulders, not yours. Plus, you do not have to deal with the hardware, infrastructure and internal support costs that you would face with an on-premise system.
  • Data safety: Data backups are included in your monthly subscription fee, so you will not lose data and have to deal with associated costs.

If you would like to calculate your exact cost savings, check out our blog, How to Determine Your CMMS ROI.

Increased Productivity

Because users simply need to log in to begin working on a cloud-based system, your employees across departments will immediately be able to access their assets, parts and inventory, work orders, reports, cost tracking, scheduling, purchasing, etc. This means immediate efficiency and up-time. Plus, your maintenance managers will not need to coordinate with IT to ensure proper system set-up and configuration.

This can skyrocket productivity, efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Improved Disaster Recovery

When it comes to data and disaster recovery, cloud-based CMMS systems actually hold the advantage. On-premise systems require database backups at regular intervals – otherwise, you risk losing your important information, including work order history and asset data.

With a cloud-system, automatic and managed back-ups are included in your monthly subscription, and your data is continuously backed up to multiple servers in multiple locations. Even if you have one server failure, then, your information will still be available elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

If you are considering a move to the cloud, you are not alone. Many organizations today are contemplating the switch to modernize their operations, and there are certainly benefits to be had, including increased security, improved mobile accessibility and higher adoption rates.

That said, choosing your deployment option is an important business decision, and there are many factors to take into account, including your financial, structural and technological capabilities.

If you would like more information, check out our Complete Guide to Selecting a CMMS system here.