Both categories help you manage maintenance, but that’s where the similarities end. Each option is very different, from the way the CMMS is implemented to the way it’s used to complete tasks. Knowing the pros and cons of cloud-based and on-premise software will help you avoid wasting time and money on a poor fit, and allow your maintenance team to hit the ground running.
What is cloud-based CMMS software?
Cloud-based CMMS software has a few key ingredients:
- Software and hardware requirements: All software and hardware is developed, installed, run, managed, and maintained by a third-party provider. An internet connection is needed to use the software.
- Installation and maintenance: Providers host the software on their own servers, which means they take care of all installation, management, data security, and upgrades.
- System access: The features of cloud-based CMMS software can be accessed anywhere, at any time, across different sites through the internet. Some systems can even be used if you lose internet connection for an hour or two.
- Mobile capabilities: Many cloud-based systems have their own mobile CMMS apps and can be accessed through mobile devices.
- Pay structure: Most cloud-based CMMS software is purchased on a subscription model with little to no up-front costs. It is priced per user, per month and includes support fees.
What is on-premise CMMS software?
On-premise CMMS software is characterized by a few basic traits:
- Software and hardware requirements: All required hardware, like servers, is housed on-site. The software typically requires extensive custom set-ups by a provider, contractor, or in-house personnel.
- Installation and maintenance: Set-up of the software and hardware are usually done in-house with limited external support or by a vendor for a high cost. Your company is responsible for data security and storage as well as any upgrades to the software.
- System access: Accessing on-premise software requires users to be on-site and connected to the same network as the CMMS.
- Mobile capabilities: On-premise CMMS software offers very limited mobile capability and most have none at all.
- Pay structure: Companies usually pay a one-time, up-front cost to use the software.
Pros and cons of cloud vs on-premise CMMS software
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to picking either a cloud-based or on-premise CMMS. That’s because each facility has its own goals, expertise, and budget. Considering each kind of software from all angles is the only way to make the right choice for your business.
Cost is a big factor when choosing a CMMS. There are three kinds of costs to keep an eye on when weighing your options:
- Upfront costs: Upfront costs include license fees, customization, installation, and integration. License fees and customization cost more for an on-premise CMMS, while installation and integration costs are very similar for both systems.
- Recurring costs: Recurring costs include subscription fees, support services, and system maintenance (ie. updates and upgrades). While the cost for support and maintenance are similar, cloud software requires monthly subscription fees.
- Additional costs: Additional costs include training, data migration, IT personnel, and hardware (like servers). On-premise software is more expensive here due to the need to purchase and maintain hardware, as well as the need to pay for IT expertise.
While a CMMS must have the features you need to achieve your maintenance goals, there are other factors to consider when comparing cloud-based and on-premise software.
- Number of features: Both types of CMMS have a wide range of features, although cloud-based providers release new tools more often. The features on a cloud-based CMMS depend on the subscription tier you purchase.
- Customization: On-premise software is highly customizable when installed, but difficult to change later. Cloud-based software features are set, but their components are easier to change and customize.
- Ease of use: Cloud-based CMMS software is designed for a broad range of users, making it easy to pick the most relevant features for a job and do it with fewer clicks.
- Mobile capabilities: Most cloud-based systems have mobile apps that are accessible with login credentials and an internet connection, making it a more mobile-friendly option.
- Ease of integration: Cloud-based systems are more open, which means it takes less effort, time, and money to connect to new machines, software, or sensors.
The success of a CMMS often hinges on implementing it correctly. Choosing the right software is critical to ensuring everything from installation to user adoption goes off without a hitch.
- Ease of implementation: While specialized technical expertise is needed to set up on-premise software, a cloud-based CMMS requires none. This can drastically reduce the time to implementation.
- Training and support: On-premise software comes with no external training and very little support services, whereas training and support are often built into the subscription packages for a cloud-based CMMS.
- Ease of data migration: Since cloud software can be accessed by any computer, it’s much easier to import data from spreadsheets or older systems.
Data security and reliability
One data breach or system outage can spell disaster for your maintenance team and the company, which is why it’s critical to know which type of CMMS software offers more protection.
- Data management: While data in on-premise servers are extremely safe, cloud-based vendors partner with companies like Amazon to securely store data. They also take care of backing it up, so data never gets lost or destroyed. The in-house IT team has to manage any data collected by on-premise software.
- Security installation and updates: Security installs and updates on cloud systems are handled by the software vendor. Security measures for on-premise software must be developed in-house or by a contracted consultant, which is expensive and riskier.
- Reliability and fail-safes: If one cloud-based server goes down, a back-up server kicks in immediately, preventing an outage. If an on-premise server goes down, the CMMS is unavailable until it can be fixed.
Scaling a CMMS
Your company is always evolving and growing, so your CMMS should as well. Choosing software that can change with your business is essential to maximizing its value.
- Product updates and upgrades: Cloud-based CMMS vendors regularly introduce and automatically apply updates and upgrades to their software. Updates and upgrades for on-premise software are the responsibility of the user and may cost extra money.
- Multi-site capabilities: Managing an on-premise CMMS across multiple sites takes a lot of time, money, and effort, while the openness of cloud-based software makes applying it to 100 sites as easy as applying it to one.
- Adding users or licenses: Adding users to a cloud-based CMMS can be done in a few minutes, whereas it can take anywhere from minutes to days with an on-premise CMMS.
Deciding which CMMS software is best for your facility
There are pluses and minuses to both cloud-based CMMS software and on-premise software. Choosing between the two comes down to which one scores better for the combination of factors that matter most to your maintenance team. Although features, cost, and security are all important, it’s important to never lose sight of which software offers the best experience for users. If the software isn’t used properly and consistently, it will fail to deliver any value, regardless of what kind of CMMS it is.