If you have ever used Facebook or Gmail, then you have used software-as-a-service, or “SaaS.” The same is probably true if you have used an account-management utility on your bank’s website. The term refers to software that is accessed through a website, instead of residing on the user’s own hard drive. “Cloud computing” is a related, if not equivalent, term.
In a recent live webinar from Epicor Software, die manufacturing business owner Anthony Chirchirillo described why he prefers to pay a regular subscription fee to access ERP software according to a SaaS model, rather than buying and owning seats of ERP software the way his business did previously. His company is Chirch Global Manufacturing, based in McHenry, Illinois. Chirch now manages production data through Epicor Express, a SaaS ERP resource. Mr. Chirchirillo sees SaaS as a much better ERP model, citing five reasons in particular:
1. Cost is now predictable. In the past, it felt as though the business could never keep up with the advancing hardware requirements of the latest versions of its ERP software, he says. Now, the hardware is Epicor’s concern. Critical hardware is on Epicor’s side of the Internet connection.
2. Conversion is outsourced. Data migration was always the chief difficulty with upgrading to a new version of the software—both the time requirement of this migration and the risk of error. Now, through SaaS, upgrading is built in. The software is always the latest version. Whenever the software’s functionality improves, it falls to Epicor to ensure that all of Chirch’s data migrate seamlessly to the new functionality.
3. Production data can be seen remotely. Just like checking Gmail from anywhere, SaaS ERP makes it possible to check production status in real-time from any Internet-connected computer. When one member of Chirch’s leadership was two time zones away, he could still analyze and respond to a production-related concern.
4. Better visibility for the production area. Widening access to the software no longer requires the company to purchase extra seats. That freedom has allowed Chirch to put a workstation within the production area for checking ERP. Now, employees near the machine tools can see what jobs are coming. They can plan accordingly, and they can even question the scheduling.
5. Data security. It may seem as though data is in danger when it is geographically far away, but Mr. Chirchirillo thinks his data are actually more secure than ever. In the past, the company was responsible for its own data archiving and security, and mistakes occasionally put some of that data at risk. Now, archiving is seamless, and the software provider keeps it secure.
Epicor’s online presentation on SaaS ERP, with commentary from both Epicor and Chirch Global, can still be seen on MMSOnline. To view it, go to our Webinars area or click here.