It has been predicted that Cloud Technologies and Software as a Service (SaaS) are some of many major tech trends emerging in the market for the last couple of years now. Yet, there is hesitation towards it in the market still. Why is that? Let’s look at it in the context of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM), which is often referred to as Business Process as a Service (BPaaS).
To clarify, BPaaS is based around Business Process Management (BPM) software solutions that are designed to make an organisation’s business processes more efficient to increase productivity, in turn creating a greater operational capacity without having to put on more staff. It achieves this by automating menial tasks such as manual data entry, data correlation checking, manually passing documents and data between people, as well as giving business managers full visibility of the process to identify bottlenecks and make well-informed business decisions through comprehensive analytics. BPaaS resides on a data centre, otherwise known as “The Cloud,” and generally comes down to a monthly or yearly cost.
Most providers these days, like FileStream, are still offering solutions based both on premise and on the cloud. So which is the best solution for you? There are advantages and disadvantages for both sides, and depending on your business situation, it will dictate which solution you should go for.
Upgrades: Technologies are always getting better and better. Versions of software that were around even just 12 months ago are nowhere near as good as what they are today. In every release of software, we are getting enhanced and greater functionality. One of the advantages of adopting the BPaaS model is that you will automatically be updated to the latest version without having to allocate any IT resources. That being said, with a lot of on premise solutions offering a maintenance agreement which includes updates, you do not necessarily need to be using a BPaaS model to benefit from this.
Security: There are arguments in favour of both on premise and cloud solutions in regards to security. In the context of a small business where you have not invested a great amount into network security, it is more likely that your provider’s data centre security is going to be more enhanced. Often customers get concerned when they hear about attacks on large banks, who are supposed to have the world’s best security measures in place. Realistically, though, you’re not a large bank that is going to be a prime target for attackers. That idea tied with the fact that cloud providers are utilising leading security technologies, means that in a lot of cases, security concerns are often misguided. That being said, you should always check with the cloud provider about the level of security they are providing you with.
In saying that, data that is hosted on the World Wide Web is never going to be as secure as an enclosed network with leading security measures. However, those leading security measures come at a significant cost. It’s just a matter of looking at the cost versus benefit specific to your situation.
Initial investment and risk: One of the primary advantages of BPaaS is that there is no upfront investment and therefore less risk. Implementing a system on premise is considered a risk because if, for whatever reason, the solution does not fulfill your business requirements in the end, you’re out of pocket for the system you invested in. With BPaaS, you’re not investing in a system or costly IT infrastructure; you’re just paying for what you use.
This all being said, providers are also delivering flexible solutions on premise in aim to mitigate the perceived risk, and initial investment, in the customer’s mind. Talk to your supplier to run through all the delivery options available to see what best suits you and will give you peace of mind.
Integration into other systems: In most cases you won’t be able to integrate into other business systems in your organisation with a cloud system. This is particularly important in the context of a document management system when data needs to be shared between an inventory, accounting or other business system. The reason for this is when a database resides external to other databases, there are challenges around mapping data between them both. Simply, if you need to integrate, don’t go BPaaS.
Dependence on an internet connection: Although in this day and age internet outages are relatively uncommon, it still needs to be covered. If you are going for the BPaaS solution, you will be completely dependant on your internet connection. If your internet drops out, you won’t have access to your system.
The risk of outsourcing: At the end of the day it comes down to the argument of outsourcing something versus keeping it in house. There is an element of risk outsourcing and relying on an external provider to run something that could be considered mission critical to the operation of your business. If you are utilising your own infrastructure at least you are responsible to yourself. If you are utilising someone else’s, you are losing an element of control and that can be a scary thought. I’m nowhere near saying that your system will fail if you chose BPaaS, but we have all had that dodgy supplier that has been nothing but painful in dealing with, and it needs to be something that needs to be taken into account in the research and decision making process.