When evaluating accreditation management systems, the argument of on-premise or cloud-based can divide decision-makers. Below we discuss the pros and cons of both camps.
According to a McAfee study, 93 percent of enterprises currently use cloud-based software or system architecture, and use of hybrid cloud systems increased from 19 percent to 57 percent. While many solutions are leaning towards cloud-based these days, it’s important to evaluate the factors that matter most to your organization. We are going to look into the cost, security, scalability and user access regarding each option.
First, let’s define what could-based solutions are vs on-premise. Cloud-based software is hosted on the vendor’s servers and accessed through a Web browser while on-premise software is installed locally, on a company’s own computers and servers (via softwareadvice).
Cloud-Based Accreditation Management Solutions
Cloud-based solutions are typically considered an operational expenditure (OPEX) which can be a PRO because it is easier to get approved by management and does not involve one large expense in a year. A cloud solution is also delivered all in one package that includes full control and predictability of costs, covering software licensing, hosting, support, maintenance, uptime, bug fixes, software patches, Windows and database (SQL server) licensing, hardware, bandwidth, etc.
When evaluating systems, be sure to ask questions about the support offered with the software licensing. You want to make sure every time you need a few basic content changes or bug fixes, you are not getting nickel-and-dimed for billable support hours. Be sure to ask about the type of support that is included, the days and hours of the week support is included and the process for submitting support requests. Premium support – usually 24/7 access to support – can be very costly, making this a potential CON for your accreditation body if it is a requirement.
Tiers of Support (via bmc blogs)
Tier 1 Support is basic help desk resolution and service desk delivery meaning technical personnel are solving common, known questions or problems.
Tier 2 Support is more in-depth technical support who are experienced and knowledgeable in assessing issues and providing solutions for problems that cannot be handled by tier 1.
Tier 3 Support is expert product and service support who are usually the highest technical resources available to resolve a problem. Tier 3 technicians attempt to duplicate problems and define root causes, using product designs, code, or specifications.
Security is always a hot topic when debating software solutions. For the most part, security is in the hands of the vendor for cloud-based solutions, so asking questions is important. We recommend digging into the solution-providers policies on security and requesting information on the security of data centers used. Read our blog 13 Questions You Need to Ask your Data Center Provider for tips on this. If the clients you work with have strict Fed-RAMP or other industry-specific security requirements, be sure to discuss these with the vendor and ensure they have a plan to meet these requirements.
A PRO of cloud-based solutions regarding security is the ability for data to be backed up regularly, minimizing the risk of losses. In addition, information is not stored on devices, like phones. If sensitive information is stored locally on phones and laptops, if that device is lost or stolen, your data is now compromised.
Deployment & Scalability
A PRO of cloud-based solutions is the quick deployment time for clients. Depending on the amount of customization, cloud-based solutions can be deployed in a few days to a few weeks. This is because hardware and software does not need to be installed. Users can utilize existing devices, like phones and tablets, to access the cloud-based software. Be sure to verify the devices your organization has are compatible with the mobile apps offered by the solution provider. Some cloud-based solutions are only offered on Android or only on Apple.
A CON for some solutions regarding deployment and scalability is the ability to customize. If your organization is seeking a custom solution, ensure that the software can be customized to fit your needs so you are not changing your core business operations to work around a software platform.
User access is a definite PRO for cloud-based solutions. In the accreditation business, the number one benefit of cloud-based solutions is the ease of user access, even in remote areas. With a cloud-based solution, a user can login and begin using the system with an internet connection. They can use a browser on a computer or laptop or mobile apps on a tablet or mobile device. There is no need to create secure remote connections, like virtual private networks, which can throttle your speed and be difficult to connect to from some sources.
While an internet connection is primarily relied upon to access cloud-based solutions, an important question to ask is if the system you are evaluating supports offline access. This means the users can access the system without an internet connection and still use most functions of the system. This is important if you accredit or certify facilities that are in remote areas or high security government buildings. If the cloud-based solution does not support offline access, user access could be a CON for your organization.
On-Premise Accreditation Management Systems
Most on-premise systems are considered a capital expenditure (CAPEX), meaning it is a larger investment upfront. Depending on your organziation’s budget, this can be a PRO or CON. On-premise deployments are typically annual costs and do not involve monthly expenditures. Be sure to ask questions around the flexibility of pricing structures to ensure the solution-provider can meet the needs of your budgetary restrictions.
Costs surrounding training, hardware and staff are typically much higher for on-premise solutions. The hardware and servers are owned by the customer so upfront costs can be significant. The internal IT team will be supporting and training users and, on top of that, vendors typically charge a maintenance fee that can equal 20% of the annual licensing fee.
A PRO for the security of on-premise accreditation management systems is the ability to customize the security to meet specific organizational needs. For an organization with an advanced internal IT team, an on-premise solution puts the security parameters in-house which can be preferable. The team has complete control of the system and data. This can be a CON if internal IT policies are weak and regular disaster recovery and backup plans are not implemented.
Deployment & Scalability
Because on-premises are controlled internally, the accreditation body has a lot of control over the deployment of the solution – a PRO for most. This does typically mean longer deployment and implementation timelines, which can be a CON, depending on your situation. Customized solutions add a level of complication into these deployments and additional training and testing is required.
Regarding users who are onsite, on-premise software solutions do not require internet access. A definite PRO for employees onsite. If you are accrediting facilities in different locations with users accessing the system while traveling, on-premise access can be a CON for these users.
What Solution is best for your Accreditation Body?
If Internal IT Control is Most Important…
Then we would recommend an on-premise solution. Be sure to consider the upfront costs of managing solutions and servers internally.
If Access from Anywhere is Most Important…
Then we would recommend a cloud-based solution. Make sure you ask questions about the mobile apps available and what devices they work on.
Still Not Sure?
Give us a call at (877) 399-3891 or shoot us an email to discuss what your organization and what you are looking for. Our company began as the internal IT department of a healthcare accreditation organization, so we have been through the software decision-making process more than a few times. We can walk you through the pros and cons specifically for your accreditation body.