Software as a service, better known as SaaS, has become an ever growing buzzword in the world of maintenance management. Many maintenance managers know the future of their facility is cloud-based, but they don’t understand how to make the leap from native software.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of SaaS offerings and compare SaaS with the more traditional native software.
We’ll also examine the advantages of SaaS, and provide you with a list of questions to ask software as a service CMMS vendors as you begin your journey to find a long-term, cloud-based maintenance management solution.
Life before software as a service
For a long time, software packages were solely offered as large, one-time purchases. With this format, customers were forced to pay huge upfront costs for software systems that they used over several years.
With the rapid pace at which technology grows and improves, purchasing native software almost always left a facility behind the times after a couple years. In addition, facilities were forced to continue to operate with their dysfunctional and outdated system for years because of the sunk investment cost.
SaaS offers a compelling solution with key benefits over this outdated approach.
Benefits of SaaS
Now organizations can purchase software on a subscription basis and pay monthly or annually, usually with a modest up-front implementation fee.
With SaaS systems, the software is hosted in the cloud, a network of servers and software that compute and store data across the internet. In this setup, the software is continually evolving, improving, and updating, so SaaS subscribers always have access to the latest, most advanced technology without any complex IT system installations or upgrades.
Cloud-based SaaS allows end users to log in from any device, anywhere. Because of the convenience and advancements, 86% of businesses that use SaaS experience relatively higher employee engagement than those that don’t.
Check out these frequently asked questions and answers to learn more about SaaS.
Types of SaaS for maintenance
SaaS capabilities offer a lot of flexibility in creating software packages. Many SaaS vendors offer several different services—ranging from a single, specialized feature to a comprehensive CMMS platform.
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a comprehensive system that automates almost every facet of maintenance management. It enables you to manage work orders, track inventory, record maintenance history, and generate reports.
Automating these processes allows your facility to ultimately lower maintenance costs, make data-driven maintenance decisions, increase productivity, and extend equipment life spans.
Learn more about the benefits of CMMS software!
Enterprise asset management (EAM) software operates similarly to CMMS software but focuses on the financial implications of a facility’s physical assets. In general, EAM software provides a higher-level picture of your facility than a CMMS can offer.
While an EAM’s asset management capabilities are usually more robust, it doesn’t provide a holistic solution that manages all of your maintenance and facility management activities like a CMMS.
Many SaaS vendors also offer subscriptions to specific services only. The features that comprise a complete CMMS, like work order management, inventory tracking, and maintenance history reporting, can be isolated and purchased independently via a SaaS subscription.
Advantages of SaaS CMMS solutions
1. No large, upfront investment cost
One of the most notable advantages of choosing SaaS over a native system is the low cost of entry.
Because you pay month to month as a SaaS customer, there is no large, upfront cost associated with your CMMS software. This makes financing and transitioning to a new system as affordable as possible!
SaaS CMMS offerings are customizable, meaning you can build the perfect software system for your facility. With this format, you can select all the features you need and none that you don’t.
If at any point you realize it seems like an additional feature could be useful, it’s easy to make adjustments and add that feature to your SaaS subscription.
If you realize you’re not utilizing a certain feature, you can remove that feature at the time of your contract renewal.
3. Price flexibility
Another great thing about the scalability of SaaS CMMS is that you only pay for the features you need. Eliminating certain features allows you cost savings that aren’t possible with a native software system’s all-in-one price.
4. Cloud-based data storage and security
SaaS maintenance systems allow you to store data in a central location in the cloud. This means that important information like maintenance history, OEM recommendations, maintenance instructions, and equipment notes are stored securely and safely over the internet.
With login credentials, you’ll be able to access your cloud-based CMMS from any device.
5. Mobile accessibility
Because important data is stored centrally, it’s easy to access information from anywhere, at any time. Mobile accessibility allows your team to log onto your facility’s CMMS via smartphone or tablet.
Having easy access to information allows your technicians to refer to specific instructions on the job, make immediate updates to the maintenance history document, and easily note anything else pertinent to the task.
Mobile accessibility cuts out needless time spent traveling to and from a central office—and hours spent filling paperwork after a task has been completed.
Learn more about the benefits of using mobile devices to manage facilities.
6. Easy communication and collaboration
Increased mobility also allows for easier communication and collaboration. For example, if the requester needs to make any updates to their work order request, it’s easy to go into the system and update that information.
Let’s compare SaaS CMMSes with common alternatives
- Traditional pen and paper system: the requester would need to track down a maintenance manager to update their initial request.
- Google form/spreadsheet system: the requester might have to send in an entirely new request.
- Native software system: the requester would have to find a computer with access to the software network to update their request.
- Cloud-based storage system: all users can access the request from any device and make real-time updates to the work order or maintenance history records as needed.
7. Frequent updates
Finally, most SaaS systems conduct frequent updates. This ensures your facility is always using the most efficient and cutting-edge technology to manage operations.
These updates are done automatically while the system is at rest, so you don’t have to worry about logging on to restart the program with long loading and wait times.
Questions to ask SaaS CMMS vendors
Although there isn’t typically an intimidating upfront cost, a new CMMS is still a significant investment.
As you begin your search to find the perfect SaaS CMMS solution for your facility, ask these questions of the vendors you are considering:
1. What features does each CMMS offer?
CMMS software is a comprehensive platform of features that support various aspects of maintenance management.
CMMS software is most successful when all operations are centralized. This means the CMMS vendor offers a variety of features that perfectly suit your facility’s needs, that can all be managed in one place.
Be sure to ask potential CMMS vendors which features they offer to ensure their CMMS software checks all your boxes.
2. How scalable and customizable is your CMMS software?
Great CMMS software can adapt to your organization’s needs and facility size. If your facility requires a lot of assistance in one particular area, you need the software to adjust to those specifications.
Ask potential CMMS vendors how scalable and customizable their software offerings are to understand how their features can adapt to your facility’s needs.
3. What implementation assistance and level of customer support can I expect from you?
Transitioning to a SaaS CMMS service from a native software system or pen and paper maintenance management system can be a daunting task.
Ask potential CMMS vendors about the transition and level of assistance you can expect to receive. This will help you gauge support and understand what the transition process will look like for your facility.
Asking about continued customer support is a great way to understand what the working relationship will look like post-implementation.
Pro tip: Look up customer reviews of the CMMS vendor in question. CMMS vendors will only show off their good side on their own websites. By reading reviews and testimonials from real customers you can get a full picture of their customer support.
Check out Software Advice’s CMMS reviews for honest customer reviews of various CMMS vendors.
4. Do you offer data migration assistance?
Transitioning to a new maintenance management system means moving around a lot of data. Sometimes the data migration process can be confusing and time-consuming, so ask potential CMMS vendors what assistance they offer in that process.
5. Does your CMMS software support any integrations?
A CMMS is intended to be a one-stop-shop solution for maintenance management. However, with a standard CMMS you may need to rely on outside software programs for assistance with certain functions.
Software integrations allow a CMMS to use outside software to expand the comprehensiveness of the system, while still keeping everything in one place.
Ask potential CMMS vendors what integrations are supported by their CMMS software.
6. What are your data security protocols?
SaaS CMMS software stores data in the cloud. This data storage system is much more convenient than native storage, but it may raise questions about data storage and security.
Ask potential CMMS vendors what their protocols are for data security and back-up protection to ensure your data is stored safely.
7. How much does the CMMS solution cost?
Finally, it’s important to work with each CMMS vendor to receive a quote for the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the system.
SaaS CMMS pricing varies from vendor to vendor, but many charge an implementation fee in addition to the monthly subscription. Be sure to accommodate for this additional cost when considering TCO.
Also, ask how the various features affect the total price—some features may be priced differently, or discounted in package deals. Explore different CMMS package options and their prices to find the most cost effective solution for your facility.
SaaS CMMS is the future of maintenance management. 73% of businesses plan to make all their systems SaaS by the end of the year, highlighting just how prominent this technology is.
Ready to see if SaaS CMMS is the right solution for your needs?
Take our 7-minute maintenance assessment to evaluate your facilities and determine the best way to optimize your maintenance operations.