There are many sides to this question and, to be frank, most apply to any accounting or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, not just equipment rentals. I’ll discuss three issues that are pertinent.
The first is technology. Supporters of the Cloud are quick to make any number of promises about the technological advantages of moving application to the Cloud – easy upgrades, access to more functionality, ease of installation, etc. While that model is probably true for office productivity tools such as word processing, spreadsheets, and email, there is a dark side to moving ERP applications to the web. Easy upgrades are not viable if the customer wants any functionality unique and critical to their business model. The user really needs to live in the vendor’s box for the model to work for both parties.
The second issue is cost. Many times people are encouraged to move to the Cloud because of the lower upfront cost of the applications. While that is true, a Cloud-based application is the gift that just keeps giving and giving. The monthly cost never disappears and you are locked into a system that forces you to continue to pay or else you lose access to your new system and all your history. Something to consider.
The third point to evaluate is the ease of having someone else host and backup your mission critical application. This is thought to reduce both head count and capital costs for equipment and software. There are definitely advantages to having professional IT staff supporting your systems. There are also a number of disadvantages including putting control of your system in the hands of another organization and what do you do with the IT staff you will need anyway for your other systems and desktop support?
It is probably tempting for smaller equipment rental companies to move to the Cloud but this needs to be carefully thought out. In our experience, the requirements for equipment rental companies are quite varied. Are you willing to put your organization in a box? And can you live with the downsides of a Cloud-based solution based on today’s limited technology?
By Malcolm Roach of Open Door Technology, Microsoft Dynamics NAV Partner based out of Calgary, Alberta