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Asset & Inventory Tracking Software: Cloud-Based Solutions vs. On-Site Installation

Introduction

When it comes to asset and inventory tracking, strategy is important! Your tracking solution is a critical aspect of your business, and your plan around its deployment and growth is as important as every other piece of your business plan.

The inventory and asset tracking solution for your business needs to be smart and consistent, meaning that each machine using it shares a common database. Solving the technical challenges of setting up a functional system may not be something that an organization has the resources to invest in. Especially for growing small to medium-sized businesses, the process of scaling up a simple inventory system can be complicated, error-prone, and sometimes painful.

Throughout the growth, scaling and improvement process, it's important to take some time and consider your general asset and inventory tracking strategy; do you have a long-term solution that aligns with your goals and growth projections? Will your solution scale smoothly to higher volumes and new point-of-sale machines and computers? Will it be able to integrate new branch locations with your headquarters on a shared database?

Such a growing business needs to evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of installing and running an asset tracking system locally; cloud-based inventory and asset management solutions offer an attractive alternative with elegant solutions to problems with deployment, maintenance, and scalability.

Using a cloud-based inventory and asset tracking solution is a popular long-term strategy for scaling, reliability, and simplicity of deployment. There are, of course, benefits and drawbacks to both in-house solutions and cloud-based solutions.

This article is an overview of the costs and benefits of both strategies; keep these points in mind as you weigh the options for your long-term inventory and asset management plan!

installed vs cloud based softwarePrice

Inventory and asset tracking software isn't free, and growing businesses need to make careful choices about expenditure.

When it comes time to ditch the Excel spreadsheets and find a true task-specific solution, or when it's time for an upgrade, new software can be expensive.

Cloud-based solutions offer a lot of relief from this sticker shock. When you upgrade to a cloud-based solution, the upfront cost of the service is much less; with some providers, it's even free to start. The cloud-based business model is based on a subscription, not an up-front sale.

So, while a cloud-based solution may save on short-term costs, it represents a monthly cost that will eventually add up. Right?

This isn't entirely true; an important assumption here is that the cost of a one-time purchase solution stops at the point of purchase. As your business grows and time goes on, the solution you purchase will grow older, more vulnerable to security issues, and may come with hidden costs associated with scaling and maintaining your system. Eventually, you will need to upgrade and replace your software, repeating the investment you made. A cloud service provider takes care of all of these hidden costs, including them in the monthly cost of service.

From a financial planning perspective, it's difficult to anticipate the true cost of operating your solution in-house; a cloud-based solution gives you a low, predictable monthly cost you can plan for.

Product Support

The true value of a monthly service model comes through the product support you receive. Not only does a monthly subscription save on up-front costs; it builds an incentive for your service provider to offer continuous, high-quality product support.

Compare this to a one-time purchase model, where a software provider's focus is solely on sales. After completing the sale, the obligation to take care of their customers loses priority.

This is not the case with a month-to-month subscription with a provider. On the contrary, they need to constantly earn your business by providing the best possible product support and assistance.

With GoCodes, product support even includes migration assistance, which helps your organization quickly migrate from a legacy system to the new cloud-based solution without breaking a sweat. Your relationship with the service provider continues indefinitely, where your relationship with a traditional software sales rep would end at the point of sale.

Most fundamentally and quite simply, a month-to-month subscription aligns the goals of your business with the goals of your service provider. As a cloud-based inventory and asset tracking solution provider, we here at GoCodes want our client businesses to succeed and will do whatever we can to foster their success; their success is our success. Without it, we have no business. That's why we work tirelessly to provide the very best assistance to our clients.

Installation and Configuration

Installing your asset and inventory tracking solution on your local machines is an important process; a small business may use just one computer. As an organization grows and adds new computers to their process, installing, configuring and integrating an inventory and asset tracking solution can grow into a time and resource-consuming task.

The most critical and technically demanding part of this process is configuring a database. This database needs to be accessible by every computer on your network, robust and flexible enough to accommodate growing and changing inventory, secure, fast and scalable. This is a choking point for small businesses as they expand from a single computer to many, or from a single location to multiple branches that share inventory; a simple database that worked before will probably not scale efficiently or effectively with your business.

A cloud-based solution is installed and runs remotely, meaning you don't need to actually install anything on your local machines. GoCodes' cloud-based inventory and asset tracking is accessible by any device with an internet connection; even mobile devices can access the system with complete functionality through the mobile app. With this system, multiple users can access and interact with the system and database simultaneously without conflicts or errors.

Configuring new machines and new devices for specific tasks is simple with a cloud-based service; to make the process smooth and painless, the product support team specializes in configuring the software to meet your specific needs. This ties back in with the idea that the business goals of the service provider and client business are intrinsically aligned.

Upgrades

Every system needs to be upgraded from time to time. Security, evolving features, and improved functionality are all important reasons for this.

With a system installed on your local computers, upgrades represent a repeating cost and forming a policy around system upgrades is tricky. Not only does upgrading old software cost money; it can also be a tedious process to migrate an old database to an upgraded version and migrate the software on every computer in your fleet. To do this properly and safely, you need the help of qualified IT professionals, which can be another unanticipated cost of use.

The alternative of sticking with an old solution for years and years is problematic as well. Over time, the security vulnerabilities in your system will grow. Software vendors usually stop providing security updates to software after a set amount of time,applying updates only to the newest software version. This is, in part, a strategy to get clients to make another purchase, upgrading to the latest software version. For sensitive asset management data, it is irresponsible to continue using an outdated and unsupported software version.

A cloud-based service includes software upgrades as a part of the cost of their service; rather than making a costly upgrade purchase every few years, you can distribute this cost from month to month. Perhaps more importantly, continuous updates happen without a hitch; you can focus on running your business without worrying about updating the software and database on every computer. You save on the cost of IT personnel to take care of it for you, and any system downtime that can occur during transitions.

Data Security as a Service

Keeping your sensitive inventory and asset data safe is crucial and it should be a top concern for your business. When you run a database locally, you need to adhere to strict security protocols that can inhibit the general scope of use for your computers.

In general, every application that you run on the same computer as your inventory and asset management system represent an avenue for security threats to your database. If you install your asset tracking software on a computer, it may seem secure. However, if you run another application and give that application the same permissions as your asset tracking software, an attacker can gain access to your inventory data by taking advantages of weaknesses in the other application.

As an example, you may have your inventory tracking software running on an office computer. A web browser is also installed, and an employee runs the browser to do a google search. Opening an unsafe site, an attacker could use the web browser application to access your computer and your asset database.

Thus, your inventory and asset data is only as secure as the "weakest link" application on your local network.

More generally, data security is a complicated topic that requires attention from a dedicated specialist. The most reasonable way to secure your local database is by hiring a data security consultant or service, another cost associated with installing and operating the software locally.

This is a non-issue with cloud-based inventory tracking. Security is included as a part of the service. The dedicated servers and database systems eliminate vulnerabilities by running only one application: your asset tracking service. This simplifies security, and allows you to benefit from a team of specialists that is dedicated to the task of securing your database.

This security-as-a-service is yet another piece of value that comes with the month-to-month cost of using a cloud-based inventory and asset tracking system.

Popularity of the Cloud

The advantages of using a cloud-based inventory and asset tracking solution are many, and for this reason more and more businesses are migrating to cloud-based software solutions. The market for inventory and asset tracking software is a part of this trend, but some businesses insist on staying with their installed solutions.

These are a few common objections to migrating this service to the cloud:

Running inventory tracking software locally gives us more control over the system.

This is an understandable objection and it's true; running your own software on your own computer does give you control. However, the assumption that a cloud-based software solution denies control from the client company is false; users of cloud-based solutions have the flexibility to use, configure, and, for more technical uses, build novel features on the system API.

It's important to understand that cloud software is extensible, meaning that users can still use it to run related software locally that interacts with the assets and inventory database. Anything that you can imagine for an installed solution is possible with a cloud-based solution; importantly, a cloud service also offers the support to help you customize your software. With a local installation, a business may need to pay for IT consulting services to modify its tracking software for a specific purpose.

Local databases are more secure; anybody can access the cloud.

This is a dangerous misconception because local databases are generally less secure. Almost always, the software on your computer is more vulnerable to attacks than cloud software. This is because average users generally use their computer to perform a variety of tasks. Task-specific cloud servers are dedicated to one task, and service providers have full-time staff working to keep their system secure.

A monthly subscription will cost more in the long run than paying one time for software.

It's difficult to make a fair comparison between the cost of a monthly subscription with a cloud service and the "one-time cost" of buying software to install yourself.

As previously mentioned article, there are countless auxiliary services that come along with a cloud-based solution. These include IT services, migration and configuration assistance, and data security monitoring. Another important consideration is the time that goes in to installing, configuring, and troubleshooting software that an organization installs itself. It's impossible to budget for the hours that your team will spend setting up and fixing your tracking solution. A cloud-based solution avoids these issues and costs by providing dedicated, high-quality support, saving valuable time.

Our system works; why change it?

It is far better to update your system while it's working than to wait until something breaks and scramble to fix it. Perhaps worse, a "working" database may leave open security vulnerabilities that are invisible to everyday users.

Resistance to change is one of the most common objections to migrating inventory tracking to the cloud. That's why cloud-based solutions make the migration process as painless as possible by offering free migration assistance and consulting services.

Cloud-Based Asset and Inventory Tracking and Your Strategy

Growing your business is a time-consuming task, and you need a strong strategy that favors efficient scaling and smart practices to make things work.

Migrating to a cloud-based asset and inventory tracking solution will allow you to count on your system working as your inventory grows and your operation logistics become more complex. With a system that works reliably and scales seamlessly, you can focus on the more important steps towards your goals!

It's important to understand all of the features and capabilities of cloud-based inventory and asset tracking software. For more information on how GoCodes cloud-based inventory and asset tracking software works for your organization, Contact us!

Points at a Glance

Attribute
Cloud
Installed
Large upfront payment

X
~20% annual maintenance and support payment

X
Customer installation

X
Additional cost for most upgrades

X
Customer backup/restore

X
Customer hardware maint. & support

X
Customer responsible for security

X
Potentially greater control

X
Lower monthly or annual payment
X
Automatic upgrades
X

Expert security included
X
Pay-as-you-go aligns customer and vendor goals
X

Grow with your business
X

Fast implementation
X


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