For the past decade or more, manufacturers looked for ways to improve and automate many aspects of their operations. But many manufacturing organizations have been slow to adopt one aspect of digital transformation: cloud-based quality management software.
The recent pandemic crisis has forced many manufacturers to re-think the cloud option. And cloud-based software offers a range of benefits that are useful—even transformative—for operations and provide value for the future of the organization.
Strategic Benefits of Moving to the Cloud
A move to the cloud is a positive experience for manufacturers as they realize how a cloud model streamlines and simplifies numerous aspects of their operations.
The cloud provides greater availability than an on-premises solution. One obvious reason for this is no more upgrades. Instead, cloud technology offers updates. The cloud enables your users to always have the latest-and-greatest version of the software at their disposal. Whenever the software is improved, everyone benefits by getting the updates right away.
A client that InfinityQS worked with had a challenging time with upgrades to their on-premises system because the IT infrastructure necessary to support the system was replicated 50+ times—once for each plant. Those 50+ plants were all using separate databases, installed locally at each plant.
They tried to maintain standardization across all 50+ sites but with separate databases, it was virtually impossible. Over time, small changes made in any of the databases led them to diverge more and more from the standardized template from which they began. This made their upgrade very difficult: each database had to be “dissected” first, changes “fixed,” and then upgraded separately—all due to those small changes made over time.
Even worse, preparing a report comparing data across multiple plants was very tedious—requiring extraction of data from each plant into a spreadsheet and cleaning the data before they could do any comparative analysis. They had a full-time person responsible for this reporting.
A single database in the cloud dramatically reduces all that complexity . All your plants can follow the same standardized format. And when only the appropriate administrators make changes, your single, standardized solution remains standardized.
Now that custom comparative report takes only a few minutes to produce. Think about the impact this has—on both you and those asking for the information.
The cloud significantly reduces the cost of deployment, for obvious reasons—such as virtually eliminating the need to go through the entire IT infrastructure process, from design to approval to procurement to installation. Or improving the consistency of your implementation and streamlining the business practices by creating standardization across the entire operation.
But what about the not-so-obvious reasons? You want your quality software to help solve critical issues, find the root causes of issues, and reduce production costs, scrap, and customer complaints. What are your lost opportunity costs for each day, week, or month when you are not using the system and generating these benefits? The faster your people are using the software, the less time you lose, and the more money you save.
There are multiple ways in which the cloud helps with risk. Data backups are automatic. Data is readily available. Reporting is easy and can be enterprise-wide.
Consider the value to a company located right next to the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11. The company had fortunately migrated their on-premises system to a cloud solution. As soon as they had new office space and computers, they were immediately able to resume operations without having to re-build their entire business system and database from scratch—because their data was in the cloud, not in their building.
With instant reporting capabilities and accountability, you can simplify audits, meet customer requirements, avoid penalties, answer customers’ requests—all in much less time from anywhere you have access to the internet. One database, one source—not multiple, separate databases to query for your response.
Quality Control on the Plant Floor
Because operators always have the latest software features—and never have to wait for upgrades—software downtime is virtually eliminated. That means happier employees and the assurance that you’re using advanced technology. And no more scheduling IT resources to complete an upgrade over the weekend to minimize the interruptions to the operations/business.
Using the cloud means always having the latest security patches immediately and consistently applied across the entire organization (for all users), without having to burden your IT staff. If a vendor is providing a cloud solution, you know cybersecurity has to be a top priority. Your company is only one of the vendor’s many clients using the system, and the security of the system impacts everyone using it. Therefore, security demands the vendor’s full attention, all the time. Without proper cybersecurity in place, your vendor could find itself in serious trouble, or out of business.
With on-premises systems, your own IT staff is responsible for cybersecurity. Unfortunately, they might be pulled into other “high-priority” projects, which temporarily puts the much-needed upgrade to your own cybersecurity technology on hold—but that brief pause may be too long, and it might then be too late. A cyberattack can shut you down for weeks. It’s not something to take lightly.
When you reduce your operating costs using cloud technology, that money becomes available for you (ok, maybe for someone else in the company) to do so many other things.
The cloud enables you to view your entire enterprise, and from this vantage point you can see what is working well and then spread those best practices throughout your organization. Success stories can be shared quickly and have a bigger impact…much sooner! You, your CFO, and your bottom line will be glad.
Cloud-based software is pay-as-you-go, meaning during the busier times of the year you can increase the number of subscriptions you use. When things taper off, you can easily decrease them. This helps you optimize your expenditures and keeps your spend predictable.
Trading Up to the Cloud
Owning an on-premises quality solution, like owning a pre-owned car, has attached to it a whole host of hidden costs. These must all be weighed against the benefits received from the system.
Your used car might have wear and tear that you just can’t see. Is that automatic transmission near the end of its life? How has the engine been maintained? And what about all the fun stuff nobody thinks about until something goes wrong—like the suspension, timing belt, or brakes? These hidden costs can add up…just like the hidden costs of owning an on-premises quality management solution.
It’s time to eliminate those costs and gain real strategic value from quality data. It’s time to trade up to the cloud.
Are you ready to trade up to a proven, full-featured, cloud quality management solution—powered by SPC? Please visit InfinityQS and learn about our Enact® Quality Intelligence platform.