Seeking a Cloud EAM? Consider These 3 Factors First

Fact: three-quarters of maintenance professionals who call Software Advice looking for advice are seeking a cloud-based solution.

And while other software markets have long offered products in the cloud, large enterprise asset management (EAM) vendors have been slower to launch in that space.

Instead, small software companies got the jump on the big guys by providing affordable, cloud EAM solutions. Now, the large vendors are making moves, and the result is an expanding selection of cloud EAM options for buyers.

According to Gartner:

eam stat

(The full report, “Cloud-Based Alternatives Are Changing the Enterprise Asset Management Market” by Leif Eriksen and Kristian Steenstrup, is available to Gartner clients)

 

It’s a good time to move to the cloud, and this guide will help asset-intensive organizations make a smarter decision by describing three key considerations and recommendations for cloud-based EAM solutions.

What Is an EAM?

Gartner’s standard definition for EAM notes functionality similarities with computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS):

“Enterprise asset management (EAM) consists of asset register, work order management, and inventory and procurement functions in an integrated business software package. 

Additionally, EAM provides a platform for business intelligence applications that focus on asset management decision support and applications that minimize the cost of support and risk of failure.”

EAM goes beyond just managing maintenance and assets. In other words, where a CMMS is focused on the work it takes to keep assets properly maintained, the purpose of an EAM is to manage the entire life cycle of an asset and use data to drive cost savings and productivity.

Why do you need an EAM if you’re a small business?

Because it can maximize the effectiveness of the assets you have, much more affordably than ever before.

And a cloud-based EAM offers the typical advantages of other cloud-based systems:

  • Lower upfront costs
  • Simpler implementation
  • Overnight updates

Here are some important considerations before you buy:

Factor 1: Increased Choices for EAM Buyers

A vendor survey performed by Gartner showed that new cloud EAM implementations doubled from 2013 to 2014—this increasing acceptance of cloud deployments is pushing major players into the space.

For example, in 2014, IBM introduced a cloud-based EAM and Infor committed to launching one. And smaller providers, such as eMaint, offer their own alternatives.

An asset dashboard in eMaint’s cloud-based EAM
 

The good news is that more cloud EAM choices are available now than ever before.

But what does this mean for buyers?

Keep in mind that some smaller vendors may be brand new to the market; carefully evaluate their offerings and support capabilities. Some companies may opt to wait until the features they need are available before making the switch.

Already considering an upgrade to an existing EAM? That might be the best time to move to the cloud if that option meets your needs. Switching to the cloud isn’t always a move to save on software costs, but can reduce costs over time by reducing the costs of maintaining a local IT infrastructure.

To recap:

cloud eam factor 1

Factor 2: Slow Cloud Rollout by Large Vendors

Most larger EAM vendors are late to the party—remember, IBM only recently launched its cloud EAM, and cloud deployments still make up a low percentage of users, for now.

So while options are expanding for EAM buyers, the cloud versions of large vendor EAMs are in their early stages: They may not offer the same complete functionality offered in their on-premise version.

On the other hand, small vendors with cloud-based EAMs won’t likely have the same breadth of functionality as the established vendors. For example, the cloud version might not include auditing capabilities or energy management.

Unlike many small cloud EAM vendors, Infor offers energy performance management (Source: Infor.com)
 

So, what should you do as a buyer?

Be prepared to make a switch: your current vendor may not have a system that meets your needs, or may not have a viable cloud option at all. Evaluate different, smaller vendors to see if their cloud offering compares in functionality with on-premise versions.

Also, many vendors are moving toward using third-party service providers for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), a platform that contains the computing, storage and networking capabilities owned and hosted by a service provider. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure Cloud, for example, provide the physical infrastructure at a more efficient cost and larger scale.

Look for a vendor with a partnership with a strong IaaS platform. A partnership with a popular IaaS platform can make you more comfortable about the stability of your cloud-based system.

To recap:

cloud eam factor 2

Factor 3: Your Requirements and Customization Level

The complexity of capabilities and level of customization necessary for your cloud EAM implementation can be a hindrance.

However, there are five specific variables to evaluate when seeking a cloud-based EAM. Your approach may vary depending on whether you’re implementing a brand new EAM or replacing or upgrading from an existing one.

  • Costs. Cloud-based software doesn’t carry many of the upfront costs for on-premise software, but that doesn’t mean it should be seen as “cheaper.” Depending on your budgetary constraints, your organization may favor capital expenditures over the annual operating expense common to many cloud-based systems.
  • Support. Small and midsize companies have fewer internal support resources, which can help explain why they’ve been quicker to adopt cloud EAM systems.
  • Complexity of requirements. Compare the functionality between on-premise and cloud versions, as the latter are likely to have some functional limitations. This could be a deal-breaker for some companies, and it would be best to wait until a version with your required feature set is available.
  • Degree of customization. Separate from complexity, the degree of customization in a cloud-based EAM may be limited as well. If your organization simply needs the core capabilities of an out-of-the-box EAM, a cloud option should work.
  • Integration requirements. Most often, EAMs are integrated with financial, human resources and procurement applications. If these integrations are required, it could prevent a multitenant SaaS approach, whereby the software is running in a single instance, but serves multiple people.

These five considerations are critical to finding the best cloud EAM option. After meeting with your management team, if you determine your needs are more nuanced or advanced than what the standard EAM includes, keep an eye on the development of that functionality from smaller vendors or the addition from larger vendors.

Only make the move to a cloud EAM when the time is right.

To recap:

cloud eam factor 3

Are You Ready for a Cloud-Based EAM?

Maybe some of these considerations prove your organization isn’t ready for a cloud EAM deployment, or maybe the right system isn’t ready for you!

Diving into a new software implementation without the right mix of capabilities and delivery can spell disaster, so it’s smart to be patient.

If you’re ready to start evaluating systems, check out our list of top EAM solutions to read real user reviews and ratings about functionality and support.

If you’re still not sure whether a cloud-based EAM is right for your company, contact me at taylorshort@softwareadvice.com. I’m happy to help you make the best decision for your company, or put you in touch with our software advisors for a free consultation.

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