Advantages of cloud-based visitor management systems
Many business owners are debating if they want on-site visitor management or cloud-based systems. Some note safety concerns for cloud-based systems and others are wondering if the features will be customizable. Right now, there are many options for cloud-based systems since they have an affordable monthly fee and no up-front cost.
Some visitor management systems like LobbyTrack offer free versions for up to 100 visitors so you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on your own servers and IT personnel to manage. Now when you use a cloud-based system you are limited to the types of features, so this is something you need to consider if you are requiring a more customized system. The cloud provider takes care of all the necessary such as maintenance, backups, software updates, power, and HVAC.
Let’s look at the cost, customization, uptime, and scalability of cloud-based visitor management systems versus on-site.
On-site servers require hiring IT staff, buying software, buying servers, and setting up rooms and independent power suppliers. Operating the servers means extra costs for electricity and cooling systems. The servers need to be renewed every several years and may need repair and replacement which has to be budgeted in the annual cost budget.
For the reasons mentioned above, businesses often choose cloud-based software to reduce their annual expenses. For a cloud user, the only charge is a monthly fee which can be as low as zero to $500/month (depending on the features and the amount of usage). In regard to accounting, there are different ways the expensing of cloud vs on-site equipment is expensed. On-site servers are a capital expense and cloud servers are considered an operational expense. Sometimes, on-site server vs. cloud server costs in the long term could potentially be similar, as the initial investment in software and servers is not as high as a monthly fee. Remember, you stop paying the monthly fee, you no longer have a visitor management system.
Customization is often required for government agencies that need more complicated restrictions for visitors and staff. On-site systems can be customized any way you want and allow you to choose different software as your needs change. Cloud software offers limited options and is easier to use for companies who do not have an IT department and just need simple monitoring of visitors, staff, and ID verification. For a small organization, using the cloud is usually the cheapest and fastest way to go. All you need to do is sign up, get your login information and start assigning ID cards to your staff, and set up a visitor management setup. For large organizations who may end up paying $500/month for cloud software, it is better to go with an on-site visitor management system that allows customization and will be cheaper at the end.
Every business that wants who set up a visitor management system is worried that once all the protocols are set up, what do they do if the system goes down. After all, time is money—whenever systems (cloud or on-site) are down, it becomes impossible to register people to track staff and to maintain security protocols. If you are worried about downtime, the cloud and on-site both have different disadvantages. If you have a cloud base system, your only access to the software is by the internet. If the internet stops working, then you have no access to cloud data. You cannot check people in, staff cannot leave correctly and maybe even doors will not open. In contrast, on-site software remains in the building, the data is not compromised because of lack of internet. But you need to keep in mind, your on-site system is only as good as your servers. Onsite solutions rely on a limited number of servers to keep operational costs lower. In contrast, the cloud tends to be more reliable, especially if you are hosting with someone like Amazon who has access to thousands of servers. Giant cloud data centers are highly redundant, and they even guarantee a certain uptime, so your company does not lose its control over visitor management.
Scalability is great when you have a cloud-based system since all you need to do is click “upgrade” and your visitor management software can instantly handle more people. If a company with onsite servers suddenly has an influx of 500 people and it can only handle 200 people, then there is no fast way to upgrade the software or servers. You will need to buy more servers or even change the software to handle this influx, and this cannot be done in a few hours. If after investing in more expensive servers to handle the new load of 500 people, you then find that it was just a rare occasion, you now have expensive equipment that is no longer required. The cloud is more scalable at a moment’s notice and has an overall cheaper cost, even when you require more servers. Data centers move the resources of servers to meet demand instantly. As the demand of customers increases, their data will expand automatically to more cloud servers. If there is a demand reduction, the servers will automatically be reduced, and your monthly operating costs will also decrease.
The factor of scalability makes the cloud the best option for startups other businesses whose needs change as they keep expanding.