Is your business planning to migrate from a manual paper-based system or local file server-based software solution to an end-to-end integrated management system (IMS) that runs entirely in the cloud?
Here are seven important factors to think about as you leap enthusiastically into the cloud.
Scalability is a major factor when selecting a cloud-based IMS for a small-medium enterprise (SME). Can your preferred digital platform be easily customised by your staff to support changes and business growth? If and when your SME starts taking large steps forward in terms of staff, customers, projects and product/service developments, will the new software adapt easily or will its rigid design or overly complex interface slow you down? You’re looking for a cloud system that future proofs your entire organisation to be as agile as it is ambitious, not to simply provide a ‘quick fix’ to current problems.
2. Continuous improvement
A provider with a renowned culture of continuous improvement and innovation is more likely to provide the flexible, scalable cloud-based IMS your business hopes to leverage. If a provider is slow to change, or is hampered by a lack of ownership of the software’s source code, your business could find it difficult to grow and keep pace with competitors.
3. Data access
The ability to collect and analyse various types of operational data remotely and in real-time is central to the overall value of a cloud-based business management system. The right IMS will allow team members to record activities, complete checklists, report incidents and make notes from the field so that everyone in the organisation can access this data immediately from anywhere, on any device.
A system that works well during one stage of your organisation’s growth may not necessarily be suitable forever. Can your cloud-based system be customised and reconfigured easily on the go? What may have seemed like a cost-friendly solution in the beginning will quickly get expensive if you have to communicate with the developer every time you want to make a small change or large update. Ideally, the platform you implement should be designed to meet your specific business needs now and be easily adapted moving forward.
5. Functions and capabilities
Does the system only manage compliance or only manage OHS while everything else sits inside a different platform or outside the cloud completely? The best cloud-based systems are fully integrated to encompass additional functionality. For example, implementing a system that exclusively provides ISO compliance could ultimately lead to more challenges and less efficiency when it comes to managing the rest of your business and compliance requirements – including real-time online visibility of your environment, field work, risk, and health and safety.
How much support from the provider will be available once the cloud-based solution has been implemented? Will that support be readily available and of a high quality? A great system is one thing, but it needs to be backed up by experts able to clearly communicate its features and benefits, as well as troubleshoot and resolve issues as they arise. In other words, a business system is only as helpful as the team behind the scenes. Ideally you want 24/7 in-person software support – especially if the provider is based overseas.
As is the case for any platform that exists in the cloud, data security and privacy should be a serious priority when implementing an integrated management system built on cloud infrastructure by an external service provider. To protect your organisation, staff and clients, always enquire about the built-in security capabilities of a new cloud-based business system.