Impact of Increasing Adoption of SaaS Solutions

Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solutions have evolved. Now offered using the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model of software deployment, CMMS/EAM solutions are now available for “rent.” This model delivers numerous benefits over the traditional model. It also allows your team to work more efficiently.

A Quick Primer on SaaS

SaaS is a software distribution model where a vendor hosts an application and makes it available to customers over a network such as the Internet for a monthly fee. Think of SaaS and traditional software models (where you buy the software and host it on your own equipment) much as you might think of renting a home versus buying one. With SaaS, you pay as you go and let the vendor worry about maintenance and upkeep. With a traditional software investment, you pay for the product upfront and must invest in the people and equipment needed to maintain it.

According to an infographic detailing the history of SaaS by ProfitBricks, SaaS dates all the way back to the 1960s when IBM and other service providers operated a service bureau business called “time sharing” or “utility computing.” The arrival of broadband in the late 1990s and early 2000s ushered in a new era where SaaS could flourish – and it has. Key growth drivers include: broadband Internet access, mobile devices, APIs, business line buyers instead of just IT buyers, and improvements in security.

Perhaps one of the best known early SaaS applications is SalesForce which was founded in 1999. Other companies soon followed, and today just about every category of software can be offered as a service. Some of the most common categories currently offered as a service include:

  • Collaboration software
  • CRM software
  • Business intelligence and analytics
  • Governance, risk, and compliance
  • ECommerce
  • Human resources software
  • Procurement software
  • Finance and accounting
  • ERP, manufacturing, and supply chain management
  • CMMS and EAM software

Advantages of SaaS in General

SaaS offers several advantages over traditional software investments. For example:

  • There's no software or hardware to buy, install or maintain. You typically pay as you go per user, per month.
  • There's no capital outlay. Since you pay a small monthly fee, it's much easier to budget for SaaS solutions.
  • SaaS is fast to deploy. Users access the software using a Web browser and can usually begin using it right away .
  • There's less need for IT support. Vendors support the software, keep it updated, resolve issues, and backup data, allowing your IT team to work on other priorities.
  • Users can access SaaS solutions remotely, allowing for anytime, anywhere access.
  • SaaS solutions can be scaled up or down as needed.
  • SaaS solutions require a minimal commitment. If you don't like the software, you have less at stake than if you'd invested heavily in it.

These are but a few of the many advantages that SaaS offers versus premises-based software in general. These same advantages lend themselves to the maintenance industry.

Common Challenges in the Maintenance Industry

According to the book “Reliability-Centered Maintenance” by John Moubray, maintenance has changed dramatically over the past twenty years due to a variety of factors. Organizations now have more, and more diverse, physical assets to maintain as well as assets with more complex designs. In addition, there’s been a shift in how maintenance is perceived and approached.

The challenges maintenance organizations face are numerous. For example, an increased reliance on automation exposes organizations to a greater risk from equipment failures. These failures affect uptime as well as quality. At the same time, many organizations have moved to “just in time” systems. When a failure affects a small “just in time” operation, the resulting breakdown often affects the entire facility. Failures can also bring with them serious safety or environmental consequences, both of which raise issues in terms of compliance with an ever-increasing range of regulations.

Another challenge involves reining in costs including Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for assets as well as costs associated with delivering the actual maintenance required. Not only is it important to squeeze the most Return on Investment (ROI) out of each asset, each asset must operate efficiently and safely with minimal downtime. Assets are more complicated than ever, often resulting in increased maintenance costs.

In addition, the way organizations approach maintenance has changed as new techniques and philosophies have evolved. Equipment is often designed with both reliability and maintenance in mind while maintenance systems have been developed to support maintenance including CMMS and EAM software. Managers need to meet expectations of asset owners in a cost effective manner, and a variety of tools can facilitate – or hinder – that.

For example, it’s not always sufficient to upgrade an existing CMMS as the underlying system may no longer support your maintenance goals and responsibilities. Finding a replacement CMMS then brings its own set of challenges such as determining exactly what you need, comparison shopping to ensure the solution has the desired functionality, migrating data, and training users. In addition, another consideration involves the system’s ability to grow alongside the maintenance department.

However, despite the challenges of finding and implementing a computerized maintenance management system, modern SaaS CMMS/EAM solutions have been designed specifically to help maintenance managers overcome the biggest challenges in the maintenance industry. With tools that facilitate preventive and predictive maintenance at their fingertips whether at the office or in the field, maintenance managers and technicians can prevent costly downtime, extend the useful life of physical assets and equipment, control costs, maximize ROI, and more.

Benefits of Moving Maintenance to the SaaS Model

Earlier we discussed the benefits of SaaS in general. Those benefits extend to CMMS software offered as a service as well. For example, with a CMMS system offered as a service, the initial expense of CMMS/EAM software, which can be substantial, is avoided completely, and there’s no need to invest in additional hardware or upgrades. Instead, CMMS offered as a service is paid for on a subscription basis. It’s a true pay as you go solution with flexibility and scalability built in.

  • Access to great features at a low monthly price - With a SaaS CMMS, you get access to robust features and tools on a subscription basis. Everything is bundled into the monthly subscription price such as the CMMS software, infrastructure and hosting, maintenance, data backup training and security, regular software updates, support, and other desired services. Depending on the vendor, you may pay on a per user, per month basis or the service may be offered for a flat fee for a certain amount of monthly usage.
  • Immediate CMMS implementations - If your organization is committed to launching a preventative or predictive maintenance program, traditional solutions may take months to implement. In contrast, there's no need for a complex infrastructure with SaaS. Thus, you can implement your CMMS immediately.
  • Scalable solutions adapt to your needs - As your maintenance department grows or shrinks, your CMMS solution can be adjusted to better meet your needs. Adding or removing users is generally a simple matter, and there's no need to invest in additional servers as your needs change.
  • Low cost of ownership - The low cost of ownership of SaaS solutions helps maintenance departments keep their own costs under control while they simultaneously rein in the costs associated with physical assets. Improved collaboration and mobility - Because SaaS CMMS systems are "hosted" and readily accessible from any Internet-connected device, they allow for improved real-time collaboration and mobility. For example, as soon as a technician updates a work order or reports an issue, that information is made available across the CMMS.

What to Look for in a SaaS CMMS System

SaaS CMMS solutions vary from one vendor to the next, making it important to carefully identify and analyze your organization’s requirements in advance in order to find the best fit. Below are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Your current and future needs - Which features and functions support both your current and future needs? Which are mandatory? Which are necessary? And which are merely desirable but not necessary?
  • Flexibility and interface capability- Does the software play nicely with other applications in use within the organization?
  • Data and user security - How is data accessed and secured? What types of user permissions are available? How much control do you have over user permissions?
  • Ease of use - Is the CMMS intuitive? Is it easy to learn and use? Is training available? What type of documentation does it contain?
  • Try before you buy - Is a demo available? You should be able to try before you buy to ensure a good fit.
  • Support - What type of support does the vendor offer?

eMaint CMMS as a SaaS Solution for Maintenance Needs

Today, Internet access is practically universal. Your facilities likely have both wired and wireless access while your mobile workers are likely equipped with smartphones or broadband tablets. This connectivity makes SaaS attractive and feasible for maintenance organizations of all sizes.

In the past, organizations that wanted CMMS had to purchase, install, and administer the system internally as well as upgrade its infrastructure to support the CMMS. As a result, cost of ownership was high as was the initial capital expense. Today, gaining access to a robust computerized maintenance management system is as easy as signing up for eMaint’s CMMS service. This solution is delivered over the Internet, allowing you to rapidly deploy CMMS within your organization without investing in hardware and infrastructure.

Because eMaint handles system maintenance, updates and upgrades, and the entire IT infrastructure required to deliver CMMS to its users, your IT department will have fewer burdens associated with maintenance software. This can translate into significant IT cost reductions as well.

In order to access your eMaint CMMS, your users simply use a standard Web browser and log in. They can access the system from virtually anywhere, 24/7. Centralization and mobility combine to foster improved, real-time collaboration amongst your team.

eMaint CMMS is loaded with user-friendly features including:

  • A user-definable "hub" - Each user can create their own hubs containing the elements and tasks most relevant to them.
  • Work orders- Built-in work order software makes it easy to manage work requests.
  • Data and user security - How is data accessed and secured? What types of user permissions are available? How much control do you have over user permissions?
  • Asset management - A vital part of any CMMS, asset management helps organizations to reduce costs and maximize an asset's ROI.
  • Preventive maintenance - Also essential, preventative maintenance is used to reduce failure rates, schedule preventative maintenance, and track progress.
  • Inventory management - eMaint’s inventory management tools allow you to manage inventory across multiple locations, associate parts with assets or service types, generate reports, and much more.
  • MX mobile solution - This optional module is specifically designed for mobile access to the CMMS.
  • Work scheduling - Scheduling work with eMaint’s work scheduling tool improves the use of maintenance resources, improves responsiveness to internal customers, improves asset reliability and uptime, lowers unit costs, and increases profitability.
  • Condition monitoring - Condition monitoring allows organizations to move from a preventative to predictive maintenance model. For example, by monitoring equipment, setting thresholds, and setting up alerts or work orders when thresholds are exceeded, you can become much more proactive in preventing breakdowns.

In addition to a rich feature set, eMaint also offers a variety of built-in services including: help desk support and an onboarding training session. Depending on the package, additional training and services are available.

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