Many factors contribute to the success of a business and one of them is certainly the software used. Picking the wrong software can put your privacy and safety at risk, but it could also slow down business operations, which may translate into the loss of money and, sometimes, even customers.
Software is particularly important when you run complex businesses such as product-making firms, where every aspect from inventory management to creating a master production schedule needs extra attention, compared to resellers.
This article is not a list of recommended software you should use. Instead, its aim is to provide you with the necessary knowledge you need to make an informed decision when choosing tools for your business.
We will discuss what cloud-based software is in the first place, what the advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based tools are compared to on-premises solutions, and why moving to the cloud is becoming more and more appealing to manufacturing companies worldwide.
What is cloud-based software?
According to Webopedia, cloud-based software refers to applications, services or resources made available to users on demand via the Internet from a cloud computing provider’s servers.
Simply put, this means that every file and piece of data is saved on external servers and are accessible through an Internet connection. Desktop software, on the other hand, implies the need to download and install all the files necessary to the functionalities of the tool, locally, on your computer.
The difference between cloud-based and on-premises software is basic and simple, but can make a significant impact for a manufacturing business.
The advantages of cloud-based software for manufacturing businesses
Cloud-based software has many advantages for manufacturing businesses just like it has for any other kind of business. When business management is particularly complicated, as it happens for production firms, you want to simplify procedures, data, inventory, and payment management as much as possible. This is easily achieved through implementing cloud-based software. Here are our top 6 reasons choosing cloud-based software is hassle-free.
1. No installation required
While with desktop software you need to download and then install files (usually files of large dimensions) on your computer, with cloud-based software you don’t need to download or install anything.
All you need to do to start using the program is subscribe to the service by creating an account. Generally, you’ll have a free trial for a certain period of time to test the program and then you’ll provide your credit card details to start paying on a monthly basis.
This is not only important because it’s less complicated or time-consuming: when you download and store files on your computer, you need a device that has the proper resources (in terms of memory storage space and CPU power) to run the program and store the files. Cloud-based software, as we’ll explore later, is accessible even from your smartphone.
2. No need for powerful devices
As previously mentioned, you don’t need the last-generation machine to run your programs when it comes to cloud-based tools. Software for manufacturing business management can be very complex; most options available that allow you to monitor multiple business facets in one place are old-school ERP solutions that are not only expensive & cumbersome to use, but also require powerful devices to run properly. With cloud-based software, all you need is a decent Internet connection, because most modern options offer intuitive UX/UI that anyone can learn by themselves or with a little help from a support team.
3. Access from any device
Because everything is stored on a server, you can access your programs from any device, any time, anywhere.
This is particularly important when you work in an international or remote team because each member can access the software from wherever they are located and have immediate access to live updates; in addition, any other time you’re not at the office but you still need access to your software, you’re just one click away from your data via your smartphone.
4. Secure data
Storing software files on your computer comes with a higher security risk, because even the smallest damage could lead to loss of data.
You can overcome this problem by making regular backups, but you’ll need to purchase further storage space and make sure you don’t forget about backing up your data – which can easily happen when you have so much to worry about, as a business owner.
With cloud-based software, your data is secured via professional servers that run regular backups, without you having to worry about advanced web security.
5. Automatic updates
Another advantage of cloud-based software is dynamism. Cloud tools are constantly updated and improved with new features, offering you instant access to those updates without paying extra money.
This doesn’t happen with desktop programs. Take for example the old Microsoft office, say version 2003. When the 2007 version came out, you had to discard your 2003 and purchase 2007 in order to access all the improvements that came with this new version. With cloud-based software updates are far more frequently than once every 4 years, and they are included in your subscription. Furthermore, they are completely automatic: since nothing is saved on your computer, you don’t even need to click on “Update now” button.
Cloud-based software is versatile: you can customize the offer depending on your needs and budget.
Cheaper options have limited features and they are ideal for smaller businesses at the beginning of their journey. As your business grows, you don’t necessarily need to switch to more advanced software, but simply update the one you’re already using, to access new features.
Does cloud-based software have any disadvantages?
One disadvantage to pinpoint about cloud-based software is that it always requires an Internet connection to work and provide access to your data. You can’t use it offline. However, the most advanced software can overcome even this problem by making some features available offline, so that you can access data and even update them locally until an Internet connection is available again.
The cloud computing market is expected to show continuous growth. According to Canalys, it has tripled its revenue for the past three years, reaching $24.1 billion in the second quarter of 2019.
Tech giants like Amazon or Alibaba are capitalizing on this trend. For example, Alibaba’s fastest-growing segment was its cloud business, which grew by 66% year-over-year, according to their 2020 1st quarter report.
One thing is certain: the increasing demand for information and data storage is what fuels this growth, and more and more modern companies are adopting cloud-based software to continue to thrive.