Within this article, we aim to help you understand the advantages of choosing cloud-based software over an installed solution, to then help you prepare your own internal business case. This is important as in the world of manufacturing, engineering and safety we still see some resistance to changing away from older style technology management and charging models.
What is SaaS?
SaaS can be defined by as “Software as a Service” and can often be interchanged with the words “cloud computing”. SaaS is a business model which customers pay to use software hosted on a remote computer somewhere outside of their offices. Today, the majority of people around the world have some sort of access to a SaaS based system, for example through emails, Microsoft Office, CRM systems, payroll, database systems etc. Over the last few years there has been a massive growth in SaaS due to the fact it has become a very powerful and important technology. There are many significant benefits to SaaS, which differentiates it from traditional software. The main difference is that your data is stored centrally outside of your office, on secure servers which you gain access to through a network. With a username and password, you log on to a system in a very controlled way.
Nowadays, implementing SaaS is accepted as the norm by so many businesses and companies all across the globe. However, in the world of EHS, the resistance to change has been far stronger than in other sectors.
Why is that and is this changing?
Up until 18 months ago the vast majority of safety and IT leaders would only consider a locally installed software solution. However, according to Verdantix’s Operational Excellence 2019 Survey, the operational excellence and EHS market is in the middle of a significant transition from on-premise deployments to cloud deployments. In this 18 month period, we have seen a seismic shift from leaders only looking at an on-premise installation. We are now seeing 90% of EHS leaders are looking at cloud-based software. 68% are now saying that a multi-tenant software provider is perfectly acceptable. There are two types of cloud-based safety solutions. One that is dedicated cloud-based and one that is multi-tenant, where you’re sharing a software and a platform with multiple companies.
According to this recent Verdantix research, the 3 key areas that executives are looking to implement software is (1) Asset Performance Management, (2) Operational Risk and (3) Contractor Safety Management.
The opportunities created by an increasing understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the possibilities of industrial wearables together with connected worker platform is also a huge significant factor. The number one driver highlighted in this report is the increasing availability of technology that will solve their problems in the areas they are seeing most pain.
With regards to Contractor Management, there are various knowledge and innovative software specialists that have made it possible for safety leaders to have one system that manages every aspect of the contractor training, work activity, safety and compliance. Therefore, it is evident that it is not just innovators looking at cloud-based software to solve their needs.
Ease of Accessibility-
One major benefit people see when moving to a SaaS solution is the ease of accessibility. It is very seamless with quick access from any device, at any location. In seconds you can log in with your username and your password. You’re getting access to a system that is controlled and growing by agile releases. Software companies these days will release features based on what is required in the marketplace. These features will be rolled out in an agile way with no impact to their customers. Companies who specialise in this area are making deployments easier and more efficient. There’s also benefits to the knowledge of teams working within those companies. Teams of people sitting in an office that are dedicated to a SaaS environment are centrally hearing from customers who use the system all the requirements they may have. They become experts in what is needed in the industry and they are the ones who are centralising what is required to fix any problems that you may face over time.
Speed, Ease and Cost Efficiencies-
Another benefit is with regards to the speed, ease and cost efficiencies of initial deployment as well as scaling within an organisation. With a locally installed solution there is a lot of initial infrastructure, buying of hardware, platform deployment training time and cost. With a SaaS software solution, the provider is likely to have deployed their software hundreds of times across a varied range of sites and scenarios. Of course, there is configuration that is going to be needed but the whole process is far quicker with significantly less upfront cost. In addition to that, these SaaS companies will have specialist teams who will be highly practiced at setting up an account from a central location and without the need to be embedded on-site during implementation. This in turn significantly brings down costs.
In many cases of implementation users of the software require it to be scaled. SaaS solutions are created to be flexible, you can upscale or downscale as usage changes. This means that no business planning is needed around hosting costs, laptop deployment or spreading usage across multiple sites. The very nature of a cloud-based solution means that the software can be scaled to easily enable people who are on the move to access their accounts. This can be done from any device, anywhere, anytime. It enables senior EHS leaders that have multi-site responsibilities drill down to single-site performance and enable all performance data to be in one secure location so that they can aggregate or benchmark performance. This is much harder when data is housed locally.
Your SaaS solution is secure, in the best servers, with the best team dedicated to look after them 24/7 around the clock. If something happens, something goes wrong they know about it before you do and others are affected as well not just you, and its treated with an extremely high priority. Business continuity is way higher for SaaS based systems rather than for local. Time taken to get back online has been really effective as a result.
Decreased Risk –
The business model for SaaS companies are low front-end costs and then an annual license fee that only increases based on success, with success meaning usage. It is dedicated commitments to the client that makes SaaS companies special to work with. The customer experience, the sharing from learnings, and always helping clients to improve their performance is ingrained in their DNA.
In conclusion the advantages of choosing Software as a Service over an installed solution are quite evident. Recent trends and change in technology have attributed to companies moving to a cloud-based solution over the last few years. The benefits as highlighted above help make the business case for moving to a cloud-based system.