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
- 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