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10 Reasons to Choose a Cloud-Based Visitor Management Solution

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I have been involved actively in cloud-based or Software-as-a-Service ('SaaS') businesses since 2002. I started as a Testing Engineer then went on through several positions and 3 different companies to reach my current position as IT & Development Director at Proxyclick.

As most of my peers I am a big SaaS believer. Still, many professionals faced with the request to replace the visitor logbook are juggling with this question: is it safe to rely on a SaaS solution to manage your building’s visitors?

Or to put it differently, why is on-premise software for visitor management not the best option?
Here are 10 reasons, gathered during 100s of smooth implementations, why I am a firm believer of the cloud-based approach.

1. Try First, Buy Later

I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy a car without test driving it first. Similarly, I don’t feel confident about buying software that I have not used before. Without the ability to test it I can’t see if it serves my needs well. 

With many SaaS solutions, you have the ability to test first and then buy a subscription. With an on-premise solution you would have to buy it before testing. Or worse you have to rely on useless product brochures and dull sales talks before making a buying decision, with no way of knowing if the product serves your needs.

Some on-premise providers might offer the option to test their solutions; however, there will be a cost for your organization and be a pain for IT people...

The logical choice would be to ensure that each and every solution fits my needs before the purchase, and the commitment, is made. 

2. Costs: Operational vs. Capital Expenditures

Regardless of which visitor management solution you use, it is very likely the costs of an on-premise solution would differ from that of a cloud based solution.

Here’s the breakdown:

Setting up with a cloud solution:
Your account is created in minutes. If you desire extra hardware such as a printer, screen, or tablet holder, you can make these purchases and have the flexibility to use them for purposes other than visitor management if desired. You may spend some time connecting the hardware (depending on the setup, this could take from ten minutes to one hour; there are exceptions to this if there are specific network constraints). It’s a bit of a headache, but it’s a one-time process.

Setting up with on-premise software: 
You’ll need to install server-side hardware, storage, OS, anti-virus and application software, and configure back-ups, apply patches… You’ll need to make space for it, power it, cool it, buy hardware maintenance and support, and probably software support from the vendor…did we miss anything? Probably!

But then…

Running costs with the cloud:
With a SaaS solution, you will be paying for your standard license and have full technical support always from the SaaS providers. The cloud solution is rigorously checked and constantly updated to identify and guard against security vulnerabilities.

Running costs with on-premise software:
Since it is unlikely anyone on your front of house team will become a technical expert in the software, you probably need to contact your IT support team whenever you need assistance. You will also have to update the reception software and hardware, as well as the OS, the server, drivers for the hardware, and ensure the main machine is constantly patched against security vulnerabilities. This responsibility falls on the on-premise IT support team or administrators.

cloud_computing_economics

A SaaS solution is built into your monthly budget, whereas a software solution installed on the premises has a cost that is amortized over X amount of years.

It’s easy to commit to a low non-committal monthly expenditure of say $100 on a SaaS solution, instead of maybe a $50,000 upfront cost for on-premise software which requires approval, budget, and a LOT of decision makers.

 

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3. SaaS Evolves

When you are working with a SaaS visitor management solution, the company providing this solution ensures it is up to date. The subscription fee includes all changes and updates, so customers are always using the latest version.

On the other hand, using on-premise visitor management requires a more tedious maintenance procedure. Beyond the fact that you may have to pay for software version upgrades, each update needs to be installed by the already-busy IT team, and the responsibility may fall by the wayside. What typically happens is you'll be a few releases behind, missing out on new features and security upgrades.

Sometimes, no one gets notified when there’s a software update and the visitor management software is out of date. This doesn’t just look bad; fixing loopholes is one of the key reasons for updating software, so out of date software poses a security risk.

4. The Power of Connectivity and the benefits this gives customers

I strongly believe that the most compelling reason to go for a SaaS solution is the power of the connectivity of SaaS with other applications. This improves communication and collaboration between people.

Take for example, Zapier which enables users to exchange data and to trigger actions between different applications. Each connection is set-up in minutes and this is only possible if all applications are SaaS based. Thanks to them we can provide a better service to our customers.

Another service we are big fans of is Twilio, using their service to send notifications allow us to focus on perfecting our own product. Our customers win twice, firstly we don't spend time developing our own SMS system and secondly we need only one connection for all our customers. Similarly this is also true for fast-growing B2B apps used on smartphones or now watches. Connecting apps to on-premise solutions is more difficult, requiring either different builds or complicated configuration to get the app to work. 

5. Limited Need for IT

Of course, this means that SaaS solutions don’t require attention from your IT department. It’s looked after by the vendor and you simply operate it as you would any other application. But on-premise software often requires support from your IT team. Visitor management software is likely to be a low priority when compared to other systems such as those for finance or external communication.

“Join the queue -- I’ve got a lot of support tickets to deal with!”

Ever heard that before?

And if you are in the IT department, do you really want visitor management software issues on top of all the other things you have to deal with? I actually feel that I am playing this role for our customers. The SaaS provider is a remote IT team helping its users solve pressing issues.

6. Multiple Locations are Easy to Set Up Remotely

With a SaaS visitor management solution, it’s super easy to set up multiple sites. Just configure the information, log in, set up your required hardware, and you’re ready to roll.

With on-premise installed visitor management software, you need to ensure you have the latest version of the supported OS and hardware, and more importantly you usually have to tie it into the primary account that maintains all of your sites.

7. Enter a Relationship, Don’t Buy a Product

When I buy a product from a vendor, do I ever get the same level of support that I’d get if I had an ongoing subscription based relationship with someone?

SaaS vendors have their necks on the line every single day and need to provide great customer service experiences. That’s because they get paid on a monthly basis and this is dependent on providing good quality service to me as a buyer.

On the other hand, I don’t find the same level of love and care given to my regular interactions with a vendor who I have already paid.

SaaS is, put quite simply, an ongoing relationship that your partners work hard at maintaining.

8. In Case of Emergency, Your Quick Access List is Easily Accessible

Let’s say your building needs to be evacuated. The on-premise software installed on your hard drive is no longer accessible so visitors cannot be accounted for! Whoops! Now what? 

If the same thing happened with a cloud based solution, guess what? Simply log onto the online service from your smartphone, or if you can’t do that either, find another PC - any web connected computer will do, ask your neighbour company if need be - from where you can log in and get the information needed to support visitor safety.

You’re not tied to a single physical location or hardware device with a cloud solution. That’s why it’s called the cloud.

9. Limited Training Needed

SaaS is typically created with the latest technologies and UX (User Experience) design features in mind to aid ease of operation. Centralized upgrading by the vendor means it’s easy to make sure all customers using online software have cool, up to date user interfaces that are easier to roll out and which provide better user experiences. 

On the other hand, when was the last time your software-installed solution was really updated? Not often enough, I’d bet. (Otherwise, it would be in the cloud already.) Such applications often look dated – a legacy application - ugly and impractical to use. There’s more training needed and this means fewer people actually use that costly investment.

10. Powerful Notifications

We’ve evaluated many visitor management cloud solutions and on-premise software tools. As a newer technology, SaaS makes far greater use of notifications. Allowing you to not only send emails and SMS messages, but also let you configure who gets what. By contrast, because of its limitations on-premise software seldom sends notifications via email about a visitor.

The bottom line: on-premise solutions are out of date. SaaS is growing:   

saas_growth_2015

Of course, let’s talk about the downside before we close:

Why shouldn’t you choose a SaaS visitor management solution?

Here are some key points to discuss with cloud-based visitor management solution providers:

  • It’s a burden but be thorough when choose the correct SaaS supplier
  • Request references from existing clients
  • Ask which types of security penetration tests they’ve passed
  • Find out how long have they’ve been doing business
  • Push them on whether there is better control of privacy and security issues with on-premise solutions 

Weigh things up carefully. See how well cloud solutions providers handle objections based on these points. You may be surprised by the answers!


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