Posted under Blog
March 12, 2020
Cloud solutions have some undeniable advantages compared to on-premise installations, such as speed of installation, security, quality control, data management, and cost savings. These advantages can be especially attractive for maintenance organizations, which is why many of them are currently evaluating the maintenance cloud capabilities of different systems.
Everything we listed above is a general advantage of cloud computing. In other words, any cloud solution for maintenance will offer those. The advantages are inherent to cloud, or they should be. This means you’re going to have to dig deeper to determine which of the competing solutions will deliver the most value for maintenance.
You will need any solution you choose to have certain maintenance cloud capabilities if it’s going to be worthwhile. A complete list will vary from industry to industry, and even from organization to organization within an industry. Different needs require different capabilities. However, some maintenance cloud capabilities apply to every organization. We’ve summarized some of the most important capabilities to look for in this article.
Let’s take a moment to define some terms before we get into the details of what to look for in a maintenance cloud solution.
First off, most of the time when we’re talking about cloud solutions for maintenance, we’re really talking about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS is the application layer for a full cloud system, but it’s still reasonable for us to talk about “cloud” when we’re looking at these applications for maintenance. The application layer is the part you’re interacting with to get things done.
Your IT department may need to distinguish between cloud computing and SaaS, but we don’t need to do that right now. From the user perspective, SaaS effectively is “cloud.” IT World has an excellent (and short!) article on the difference between SaaS and cloud computing if you’re interested in the details. While we’re going to go ahead and just call everything “cloud,” you might want to read up on the differences if you’re meeting with the IT department at some point.
We also want to note that a true cloud solution for maintenance is not simply an on-premise installation hosted on a remote server. That might qualify as “cloud” from a strictly technical standpoint, but it’s not really what we mean when we discuss maintenance-focused cloud solutions. Cloud software for maintenance should be designed from the ground-up to take advantage of everything the cloud has to offer.
This is of great importance both to maintenance and the organization as a whole. Ensuring a single source of truth is a vital capability for any maintenance cloud solution. The data gathered by your maintenance system must be able to move to your ERP as needed. This saves time by eliminating duplicate entry of data, not to mention the incredible amount of time and energy it can take to identify which piece of data is the right one.
At a higher level, ensuring that your maintenance cloud solution gives you a single source of truth will provide you with the right data, at the right time. Accurate data is the foundation of analytics, a necessary component of improving your maintenance processes.
A maintenance cloud solution that maintains a single source of truth will prevent data conflicts from arising and ensure that the whole organization has the same data. Ideally, it should integrate directly with your ERP.
This should always be a required capability for any maintenance software, whether cloud or on-prem. A system designed for maintenance from the ground-up is more likely to offer this capability than one that was designed for something else and adapted to the needs of maintenance.
Maintenance best practice is a big topic on its own. In short, any cloud solution for maintenance should encourage moving from reactive maintenance to a more preventive model, and if possible, predictive maintenance. In turn, this means that the maintenance cloud solution should be able to check the quality and accuracy of work orders to ensure that only properly prepared work orders make their way to scheduling.
You’ll also need your cloud solution to capture as much data from the equipment as possible. You can’t make predictions on equipment if you don’t have the historical data.
Whether or not a proposed solution can actually encourage maintenance best practices can be hard to gauge from a distance. The short answer to this is to talk to your vendor and ask them some questions. If nothing else, this will show you whether or not the vendor’s rep understands maintenance best practices. If the rep can’t answer basic questions about how the solution handles the backlog and constructing a work priority index, then there’s a good chance the solution doesn’t include those things.
Today you know you need planning, scheduling, and some analytics for reports. What will you need tomorrow? It’s not really a fair question. You would just ask for it today if you already knew what you needed.
Maintenance cloud solutions may be faster to implement than on-prem solutions, but they still require effort, time, and money to roll out. Implementing a basic solution may leave you high and dry when your needs expand.
Look for a solution that can be expanded with other capabilities as the needs of your organization grow. The various modules should integrate both with each other and your ERP.
What’s the point of cloud maintenance software if everyone is still tied to their desks? One of the big selling points of cloud computing, in general, is that you can access the software no matter where you are.
This is especially true for maintenance organizations. There are many advantages to a mobile workforce. Just one example: a craftsperson with a mobile solution can input meter readings and other data directly into your solution, and hence into your ERP.
Writing down inspection results on paper provides at least two opportunities for data errors: when the readings are written down, and then again when they’re entered into the system. The best decisions arise from the best data. That means prioritizing mobile over paper.
With that said, a mobile solution may not be high on your priority list right now, and that’s okay. However, it’s vital to ensure that any cloud maintenance software you choose be able to support mobile solutions. It’s better to have a capability you don’t use than it is to need a capability you will never be able to get.
These capabilities are essential for any maintenance cloud solution. VIZIYA’s WorkAlign Cloud can help you go even further, by integrating the entire maintenance workflow. Contact us today for more information on bolstering your maintenance processes in the cloud.