As manufacturers look for ways to cost-effectively modernize their operations, they are likely faced with a slew of information about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), automated data capture, and cloud-based solutions for everything from accounting to marketing.
Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, once touted as the “future” of computerized operations, are now the norm in nearly every aspect of our lives, from banking to grocery shopping to tracking our kid’s soccer calendar. But manufacturers have been slow to adopt cloud solutions for managing the very heart of their operations: their SPC-driven quality management systems.
The reluctance to move all data to the cloud is, in some cases, based on practical and real-world constraints on how we manage our information. But for many manufacturers, a cloud-based Quality Intelligence software solution can offer hard and fast benefits. Let’s take a look.
What’s the Difference?
Your traditional quality management solution is hosted on-premises—that is, in a data center on site at each of your facilities. Owning the software and the hardware it runs on allows you to maintain corporate- or industry-required control and security by operating the application behind your own firewall. It also means you have to maintain the hardware and software in-house and perform regular upgrades.
When your solution is hosted in the cloud, you don’t have to manage all the infrastructure to run it—the software provider does that. Your provider gives you access (ideally, secured within multiple layers of protection) to the software’s functionality through any web browser from workstations and mobile devices.
A cloud-based solution provides some very real benefits right away—and on an ongoing basis.
Dramatically Cut Upfront Costs
On-premises quality solutions carry with them quite a few overhead costs that you might not think of when you first decide to deploy a quality solution: servers, network infrastructure, workstations that speak to the servers, a data center, and so on. The initial cost multiplies when you extend your deployment to multiple sites—multiple servers, multiple datacenters, and multiple staff experts.
With a SaaS solution, of course, the cost of resources to maintain and manage the hardware shrinks (or completely evaporates). When there’s no hardware to manage, you don’t need to burden your IT staff with the overhead of managing updates, patches, and security. Your IT team can concentrate on the myriad other tasks for which they’re responsible. It’s a win-win.
Easy to Deploy—and Possibly Try Before You Buy
Streamlined deployment is one of the best advancements of cloud-based systems. It’s so easy. Simply set up an online subscription and you have access to the software and can start using it right away.
Deploying to multiple sites with on-premises solutions means more hardware, more licenses, and more infrastructure. With cloud-based solutions, you just buy more subscriptions and give the users the password…and they’re in the system!
Some SaaS providers have the option to use the software in a full or limited trial before committing to a long-term subscription. InfinityQS offers this option with our Enact® Quality Intelligence solution; you can try it before you buy it. With our Risk-Free Trial program, you can quickly and easily get your hands on the software, evaluate it, and see if it’s right for you and your organization.
With on-premises solutions, it’s not so easy. In many cases, you can obtain an evaluation license for an on-premises solution, which is highly valuable. But you still need to install the software and dedicate resources and a server on which you can test it. Again, it’s an endeavor that’s hardware- and IT-intensive.
Access to Innovation
One of the most practical advantages of a cloud-based quality solution is easy access to innovation. Because the solution is not on-premises, and you access the interface via a browser, you are always using the most-up-to-date version—the cutting edge of quality technology.
For example, with Enact, the host (that’s us) carries the responsibilities—and costs—of all the hardware. When the InfinityQS Enact development team issues a new release of the software or a patch, everyone using the software gets that release. You always have the latest and greatest version of the product.
Conversely, with on-premises solutions, you could have many different versions in use at different sites. Managing that can be a nightmare. Each workstation must be manually updated. There’s downtime involved (who can afford that?) and the process is just disruptive.
The reality of the situation for enterprises that use on-premises solutions is that all-too-frequently they don’t upgrade when they should. Often, organizations don’t have the resources to shut down and re-install, say, when there’s a service patch. It’s a self-compounding problem: they need the software update but can’t quite get to it, and the issues created by avoiding the update mean they need it even more.
Beyond the Big Three—Total Cost of Ownership
With on-premises systems, many manufacturers accept that a large chunk of their investment happens upfront, when they purchase the software, set up the infrastructure, and create systems for maintaining it. But in fact, that cost continues to stay high over time; the total cost of ownership goes beyond those upfront investments.
Cloud-based solutions like Enact offer a monthly subscription, with few other expenses. That means your upfront investment is low—and your total cost of ownership over time remains low and predictable. Flexibility is also built in; you can ramp up (and down) the number of users at any time: you pay only for what you use.
Predictability, manageable cost of ownership, and the flexibility to adapt to your organization’s changing needs—these are the benefits that cloud offers now. And these benefits give you the ability to future-proof your business in a way that hasn’t been possible before.
Please take a few minutes to visit the InfinityQS website and learn more about the Enact Quality Intelligence platform.