There are advantages to time tracking systems in the cloud, but are on-site systems still worth it?
The cloud vs. on-site debate is heating up. It’s time to find the time tracking system that works for you.
Re-occurring revenue is king in today’s marketplace. For a weekly or monthly charge, customers can enroll to get access to the services you provide. This is the model for cloud-based businesses too.
Cloud computing sells itself as quick setup, low maintenance, and high profit. But it might not be the right answer for tasks like accounting, time tracking systems, attendance, or payroll.
Many companies are using a mix of cloud and on-site systems. The reasoning behind this approach is clear. Businesses want the best of both worlds, and both solutions have their high points and low points when it comes to workforce management.
Some companies are looking for time tracking systems that are ready to support the growing mobile workforce, with applications for smart phones, tablets and PDAs.
Other companies are looking for time tracking systems that provide the greatest security, using the latest biometric technology to securely manage their workforce.
Acumen can help you find the perfect solution, whether your new time tracking solution should be on-site or in the cloud.
Hybrid Time Tracking Systems Are Viable
Hybrid models sometimes make sense in a constantly changing employee-employer environment.
One key reason to go hybrid is the investment that organizations have already sunk into on-site systems. Time and attendance hardware and software infrastructure has setup costs. And companies may be reluctant to abandon those capital expenditures just to move to the cloud, no matter how profitable your cloud-based workplace management vendor advertises that it is.
We’ve seen company after company complain that the time and attendance outfit that sold them their time clocks and on-site software is either no longer in business or strictly cloud only now.
“People put a large investment in on-site applications,” says Ed Squires, CEO of Acumen Data Systems. “They really need to build a business case for the cloud after they have put that investment in on-site.”
Security concerns with the cloud often mean companies want their data in-house and on-site, Squires says. But then there’s the higher cost, maintenance and space requirements for on-site systems that might outweigh their need for the shorter-term gains found through putting workforce management functions like time and attendance and leave management in the cloud.
“Sometimes there’s a case for the cloud, but just as often, there is no case,” Squires says. “Each one of our customers’ situations is unique and we meet those situations with measurable information on which they can make their decision.”
One Acumen customer, an amusement park company, finds that with a limited IT infrastructure and a seasonal temporary workforce, the cloud meets their computing and data storage needs. Another firm, in the pre-paid credit card industry, has intense security requirements for proprietary data that must be secured 24/7, which is why an on-site solution works best.
A common message from cloud service providers is “Do what you do best, and leave the rest to us.”
Cloud service providers encourage companies to simplify their infrastructure. and to outsource tasks like accounting, scheduling, time tracking, and billing.
But this can oftentimes leave them stranded. They might need three separate services through three separate vendors. And there is no guarantee that any of those services will integrate with each other.
Time Tracking History Repeats Itself
Believe it or not, the cloud vs. on-site battle goes back thirty years or more.
Remember hearing mainframe or desktop? So why are we seeing it again?
The answer is simple. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.
Think about these quick points:
- Best practices include the fact that any deliberate back door is a security hole in your infrastructure that will be eventually exploited.
- If your business relies on access to an application or data source continuously, then deliberately creating a single point of failure (i.e., your office internet connection line) is shortsighted.
- Sensitive data whose loss or theft could cause moderate, serious, or grave harm to your customers or internal operations means you should apply the first rule of security: physical control. Outsourcing the ENTIRE physical security model in these cases is simply irresponsible and could potentially be considered criminal negligence.
- Just as with public websites, using the greater power and reach of a hosting/cloud provider for information you want public just makes sense.
- Remember, all that “cloud computing” really means is you are running your application, and storing your data, on somebody else’s computer.
Do all Time Tracking Systems have Upfront Costs?
Let’s face it: high upfront costs are the rule for on-site systems.
There’s hardware and software to purchase, costs for the installation, configuration and implementation and even incidentals, all of which can quickly add up.
With the cloud, there’s generally no upfront investment for hardware or software. Cloud solutions are offered through a monthly subscription fee. And that fee usually covers training, support, and maintenance.
Cost of Operation
On-site systems have operating costs over time. There are the costs of running your own server, maintenance, backups, upgrades and even hardware replacement. Many small line item costs can easily add up beyond your budget.
Compare that with cloud-based time tracking systems. With cloud systems costs usually decrease over time because of accessibility through shared services.
It’s not one size fits all, either.
There are on-site systems that have few additional costs. If your firm is looking for the best return on investment, on-site is often better longer-term. You are paying for the higher upfront costs, but over time you profit.
Performance and Scalability
A cloud solution is scalable. It can usually be adapted as you grow. But there are exceptions.
Sharing hardware with other firms and flexible cloud-computing means cloud systems will grow with your needs, but only up to a point.
On-site time tracking systems on the other hand are easier to upgrade. Meeting new demands in the cloud can be costly, if not impossible. Expanding the capabilities of an existing on-site system is much easier by comparison.
How can you tell which system will meet your needs now and be ready to grow with your business?
Your workforce management vendor should be able to show you that the benefits of their time tracking system are real and measurable, in the long term and the short term.
Do you really know where your data is? That’s one question that continues to haunt adopters of public clouds. The fact is, once sensitive data is moved or generated on a public cloud, it becomes more difficult to see exactly where the data resides.
Technology has overcome the visibility hurdle, but it remains a very real concern for many IT professionals.
In many cases, physical access to on-site hardware ensures security and peace of mind.
In a perfect world, all users in all places around the globe would have high speed and unlimited access to the internet. That would ensure every user would have great access to any cloud service provider your firm might want to partner with. Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. This issue is seriously problematic if your business needs a unified time tracking system across multiple worksites in multiple counties.
Access to cloud resources can become a problem due to bandwidth constraints at the last mile. Some countries restrict access to internet content. In such cases, private WAN connections are more reliable and consistent than relying upon the internet as your primary access method.
On-site systems have the advantage of remaining accessible even without internet access, and aren’t threatened by temporary access loss due to outside circumstances.
Switching from Cloud to On-Site, and On-Site to Cloud
Migrating data to and from the cloud has never been easier. Moving data between an on-site system or the cloud is scalable, secure, and efficient.
Our time tracking systems help companies like yours move between the two seamlessly. We avoid issues and ensure your migration will go smoothly.
It’s smart and practical for small to medium-sized businesses to use cloud-based systems for support. It gives you access to enterprise solutions at a fraction of the cost. There probably isn’t a cloud service offering that a small to medium business can build themselves on-site with the same budget.
Embracing cloud-based solutions means your firm can focus on what it does best and leave the rest to experts in the cloud.
Intrahosting for your Time Tracking System
Many customers consider intrahosting a happy medium. This is where workforce management software is installed on-site but maintained as if it was cloud-based. It’s private to your company and you don’t have to share computing or storage space with any other firm.
Consider all of the tools you might want access to in your time tracking system:
- Mobile Access
- Job Tracking
- Leave Management
- Benefit Tracking
- 24/7 Support
These are some of the elements to consider when designing your workforce management system to bring you into the 21 st century. And all of these features (and many more) are available with an on-site, cloud-based, or hybrid system.
Acumen’s time tracking systems work with your organization’s unique and specific needs. Our approach is comprehensive. We consider where your company is today in the marketplace and where you see yourself tomorrow. There’s no cookie-cutter cloud with Acumen.
Our time tracking systems can go cloud, on-site, or both, blending the best of both worlds for the best result.
Experts in Timekeeping and Employee Scheduling
Acumen Data Systems is a leading provider of time clock and employee scheduling software. We help organizations manage their most valuable resources—the human kind. Acumen offers robust solutions for time and attendance and scheduling.
We believe that technology is but one-quarter of the workforce management pie. Employees, policy, and the environment are just as important.
Do you have any questions about time tracking systems in the cloud or on-site?