Author Tom Robbins may have said it best: “There’s birth, there’s death, and in between there’s maintenance.” For businesses in asset-heavy industries, routine maintenance is the most necessary of evils. But it doesn’t have to be. Cloud CMMS software can take some of that burden off your shoulders. Read on to learn more about the benefits of web-based CMMS software.
What Is Cloud CMMS Software?
The lot in life of maintenance workers and managers alike is that they have a lot to do, and their job is never completely done. Managing your assets, work orders and regular preventive maintenance can be daunting — especially when those assets include heavy, expensive equipment. This is why many businesses have implemented cloud-based CMMS software to improve their maintenance operations.
CMMS stands for computerized maintenance management software. It helps facility and maintenance managers streamline work orders, inventory management, asset monitoring, preventive maintenance scheduling and other asset maintenance activities. It can help with a range of internal maintenance and optimization tasks to make your business more efficient and organized.
CMMS is also called enterprise asset management (EAM), computer-aided facility management (CAFM) or facilities management (FM), although there are some slight differences between those terms. It’s often confused with field service software, but the latter focuses on managing on-the-go operations and client equipment.
CMMS Deployment: Cloud vs. On-Premise
Now you know what CMMS is, but what is cloud-based CMMS? Cloud- or web-based software refers to SaaS (software as a service) systems that are hosted by a third party in the cloud. Users can access these services through the internet. The other options for deployment are on-premise and hybrid deployment. On-premise solutions are installed on hardware (i.e., servers) maintained within your organization’s premises and require an extensive IT team to maintain, secure and operate it.
Although on-premise CMMS solutions are great pieces of software, they often lack some of the functionality of their cloud computing counterparts. In addition, you can avoid the many logistical hurdles presented by on-premise CMMS by implementing a cloud-based one. Hybrid solutions combine features from both types of systems and are more unusual.
What Are the Benefits of Cloud-Based CMMS?
Unless your industry requires an on-premise deployment, as some governments or other high-security industries do, there are several reasons why you may want to consider a cloud CMMS. Here are just a few:
Advantages of CMMS
First of all, CMMS has the power to completely change your business for the better. Some of the benefits of CMMS software include asset management, work order optimization, workflow automation, inventory management, safety improvements and improved ROI for each and every piece of equipment in your arsenal.
CMMS can help revolutionize your maintenance team’s daily tasks. With preventive maintenance scheduling, you can improve your repair rate and extend asset lifetimes. This saves you money in the long term by improving uptime and ultimately keeping your equipment usable more of the time and for longer.
Nearly Unlimited Access
“Cloud-based” software is exactly what it sounds like; in other words, you can access it on the web, specifically from most browsers or even device-native apps. This detail makes cloud CMMS much more easily accessible than a CMMS deployed on-premise.
While you need physical proximity to connect to an on-premise CMMS (unless you set up a Site-to-Site VPN, which again, requires IT resources), all you need is a browser and an internet connection to access a cloud-based CMMS software. You can log in with your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, and do so whenever you want. Most vendors also offer a mobile app, so you can navigate the system with a mobile-friendly interface while on the go.
This is great for workaholics since you can check the system wherever you are. At home? Check out next week’s scheduled preventive maintenance. At a conference? Show your prospective clients how well you take care of asset management. On vacation in Fiji? Check the status of your work orders while your significant other gets you a margarita.
As we said, the only limits for accessing a cloud-based CMMS lie in the availability of an internet connection and an internet-enabled device — things that are becoming more and more prevalent every day. Most platforms have an availability of 98% or more, which means you’ll almost never have to worry about system downtime.
Fewer IT Requirements
Possibly the biggest cost-saving benefit of cloud-based maintenance software is its lack of IT needs. While on-premise solutions require hardware, infrastructure, internal support, etc., cloud-based software requires only a login and Internet connection to function.
The savings on hardware is a particularly significant benefit of the cloud. One of the biggest costs of an on-premise solution is the servers you need in order to install the software. You not only have to buy them and set them up, but then maintain them continuously. Do you really want to perform maintenance on the system that helps manage your maintenance?
Updates are also incredibly straightforward in a cloud CMMS. All you have to do is accept the update, log in and then the update will be available. More often than not, you don’t even need to accept the update — it’ll be done automatically when you next log in. Is there a fancy new equipment monitoring module that you’re excited about? No need to wait; as soon as the vendor releases it, it’s yours.
With on-premise CMMS platforms, you have to pay extra and/or wait for updates. These updates have to be physically installed and configured in your servers so that your users can access any new features or bug fixes. Especially in today’s fast-paced business environment, who wants to wait? And for that matter, who can afford to wait for crucial updates?
Security and Support
One big bonus of cloud-based maintenance management systems is the vendor support. If the system malfunctions, you don’t need to have your IT department look at it; you can just let your vendor’s support team know, and they’ll take care of it for you. If you choose the right vendor, they’ll have a team of resources devoted specifically to solving issues, making them uniquely prepared to help you fix it. If you’re responsible for troubleshooting all your own software problems, it can get costly very fast.
The security necessary for on-premise CMMS systems can also get pricey when it’s entirely your responsibility. You’ll likely be transferring and storing sensitive data — you want to keep that data as safe as possible. CMMS cloud services take that worry off your plate. Because they are hosting data for a large number of clients, they can afford robust security measures. While web-based CMMS is still slightly less secure than on-premise — any time you’re moving data from place to place it has the chance to be hacked — the gap is narrowing every day.
Cloud-based software has often gotten a bad rap for a lack of data management. Like we mentioned, most cloud-based software is currently just as secure as their on-premise counterparts, and actually holds an advantage when it comes to data recovery.
Robert Cochran, owner of cloud-based CMMS vendor SS-CMMS, explains why cloud systems have an advantage over on-premise when it comes to data recovery. “With on-premise software, you must back up your database to another server at regular intervals, or risk losing all of your important CMMS data if your hard drive fails on your server or computer. This includes all of your asset and work order history. With cloud-based CMMS software, managed backups are included in the subscription price.”
Thanks to cloud storage, your cloud-based vendor can continuously back up your CMMS data. The data is backed up to multiple servers and multiple locations, so that even if your computer or even one of their own servers crash, your data is always safe and available for future use.
Another downside of on-premise CMMS is the speed of implementation. Or rather, the lack thereof. As we mentioned earlier, you have to invest in servers and other IT hardware to run an on-premise solution.
But buying them is only half the battle. After purchase, it takes time to set up the servers, install the software and configure your network before you can start using the system. Then you have to train your team, troubleshoot adoption and continuously improve their usage of the system. It’s an ongoing battle, and CMMS has an adoption rate of only about 39%.
While the training and perpetual improvement is part of any software implementation, starting up with cloud-based CMMS software is almost instantaneous. In as little as 60 seconds after submitting your payment, you can start working with the software. All you have to do is set up your login credentials and log in to the system before you can start exploring. Most CMMS vendors offer a robust knowledgebase of videos, documents and other training resources to help you get your footing.
That said, you’ll probably want to implement the software a little slower than that to allow for a seamless transition. You should inform your users and other important stakeholders of any process changes. You should also provide at least basic training for your users so they can hit the ground running and help each other learn as they go.
The difference between setting up the infrastructure of an on-premise CMMS and the transition to a cloud-based system is huge. An on-premise implementation can take weeks or even months, while a cloud implementation can take as little as a few days or a week.
How to Choose Cloud-Based CMMS
If you like what you’ve read, you may be wondering how to go about choosing a CMMS cloud-based solution. Not all CMMS are created equal, so it’s important to focus on finding the right solution for your unique requirements rather than finding the highest-rated or most affordable. Here are some steps to follow to find the right CMMS solution for your business:
The first step is to gather a user-specific requirements list. This will help you get an understanding for what CMMS offers and which of those features you’ll be most likely to use. It can help you narrow down your vendor options based on who best delivers those key features. A requirements checklist also helps vendors get an understanding of your needs and offer an accurate price quote.
Once you’ve generated your requirements template, you can compare vendors based on how well they perform for the features you identified as crucial. This should help you narrow down a shortlist of products that meet your needs.
Once you have your vendor shortlist, you should create a CMMS RFP (request for proposal) that you will submit to the prospective vendors. This lists your needs, requirements, budget, implementation goals and more. It will help vendors understand what you need and how best to support you.
Request Pricing and Demos
Often included in the RFP is a request for quote (RFQ). Pricing found online is often unreliable since most software is priced based on your usage of different features, so the only way to get an accurate idea of how much it will cost is by asking the vendor directly. This is also the stage to request demos. Getting a feel for the usability and interface of a software solution is crucial before choosing a final platform — your users have to be able to use the system, so make sure it’s intuitive enough to be adopted.
Cloud CMMS offers many benefits to organizations in all industries. While there are plenty of benefits to an on-premise preventive maintenance system, cloud deployment is becoming more popular, more secure and more advanced every day.
Do you use hybrid, on-premise, or cloud CMMS? Tell us about your experience in the comments!