Pros and Cons of a Cloud-Based CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System)
Is a cloud or web based CMMS (Computerized Maintenance System) what your organization needs? Well, like with most things, one size does not fit all on the CMMS world and the applicability of online solutions for your reality depends on a wide variety of conditions. It’s undeniable that cloud-based CMMS implementations are on the rise and, if your organization is on the market for a new maintenance management software, the web variant has to be at least minimally considered.
What follows is a list of points and general considerations based on a list of commonly asked questions related to online computerized maintenance management systems. Hopefully, this will be of some assistance to someone considering such systems.
With a cloud-based system…
… you are following an obvious technology trend.
Think Google docs, think dropbox. You may already use some of these tools. If you do, you are already in the cloud! The fact is that as technology progresses one way, all associated systems will adjust in order to support that development, so you tend to be progressively better served with better technological solutions at a fraction of the cost. It will be cheaper because you don’t own the platforms, the vendor does.
… you save on IT systems maintenance cost.
This one is easy, you don’t own the servers anymore, you also don’t have to take on the maintenance costs.
… you do not have to wait for an overloaded IT department to fix or implement things for you.
This is part true. Yes, you are not waiting for your own IT department to implement solutions for you but you are waiting for an external supplier. Truth is they are also as overloaded as your IT department would be.
… you must ensure you are the owner of your information.
Make sure with the vendor by written that this is the case. Most vendors will guarantee this.
… you must ensure all your data is transmitted securely.
Your organization’s information is yours and yours alone. Make sure you connect to your provider using a secure connection (https:// instead of http:// on the address bar).
… you must ensure that staff that leaves is removed from the list of people that may login to the system
May require serious procedural enforcement because the last thing you want is an unhappy ex-worker creating havoc on your system. Remember, these systems are available on the internet!
… your WO process can be followed up from anywhere with an internet connection.
Think, for example, teams that are deployed to the field and complete their virtual paper-work on the road. This makes the information available in almost real-time.
… access to the system can be done using any device that can run a browser.
iPad, iPod, android devices, practically any time of handheld can be used on the maintenance effort: technicians can look at datasheets and drawings online while they are performing the job. If the maintenance manager needs a report on the fly for a meeting, simply click two buttons are you have it!
… your online CMMS are usually modular.
This is great because you can add modules dynamically, without having to install software yourself. A simple request to the provider will make that module available for your organization in minutes. If the module doesn’t work for you, no problem! It’s removed from your list and you don’t have to continue to pay for it.
… you have a low cost start fee.
No large entry investment like you would have with most non-online solutions.
… you pay as you go.
Usually monthly or yearly, you only pay what you use.
From experience, the single most common concern with cloud-based CMMS is that users have trouble letting go of company data on to somebody else’s servers. But where does that reluctance come from? We have to get realistic about that: in the first place, the service provider wants your business and will protect your data or they will lose a customer. They don’t want that. Secondly, are people really after your data? Reality is that unless you’re in the military, your maintenance information interests only you and has no value for others.
As you can see, some of the points above, may or may not apply to you. For example, if your organization already has a capable and efficient IT department, it may make sense to proceed with a LAN based solution. In very general terms, large companies will be less suited to the use of a web-based CMMS when compared to a small to medium sized company. This is because the support infrastructure on a large company is already there while on smaller organizations that infrastructure is either extremely limited or simply not there. When in doubt, you can always visit an online CMMS supplier and register for a free trial or simply find a free CMMS solution and test it out for a while.
In summary, the final decision will depend on your specific needs. There are no absolute rights or wrongs but one thing is for sure: online CMMS solution should at least be seriously considered along with the more conventional options.