Many of our customers use business management software to help them, well, manage their businesses. These solutions come in many shapes and sizes that look different depending on your industry, but they come in two basic flavors – cloud-based and locally hosted. The decision here is a big one that will affect how you interact with your software moving forward. When you’re deciding on cloud vs. local software, here are four aspects of each you should consider.

Ease of Setup and Maintenance

Before you make a decision on cloud vs. local software, consider the relative ease with which your team can set up and use each solution. If you need to get up and running quickly and don’t have many specialized needs, cloud-based software works pretty much immediately out of the box with very little setup time. However, this easy setup comes at the cost of customizable features. If you want to create a software experience that’s specifically tailored to the needs of your team and company, consider going the local route. Implementation will take considerably longer, however, and depending on the support capabilities of your provider you might find your internal IT team doing most of the heavy lifting. This contrast continues throughout the entire time you use the software. A cloud-based solution will receive regular updates from your provider and will probably be easier to support in general. A local solution may require more technical know-how from your tech department when something goes wrong.

Personalization Potential

We’ve covered this one a bit already, but it bears repeating – local software will likely be more customizable than cloud-based solutions, but this comes at a cost. Even if you’re willing to accept the upfront implementation costs (in both money and time) to create your dream software solution, you could find your hard work decimated by a software update from your provider, which won’t take into account any special customizations you might have made. At best you might find these special features won’t work, and at worst you might find your whole software solution breaks. That might not be a big deal to you if you have an in-house tech team, but don’t count on your software vendor supporting your customizations. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of the cloud vs. local software debate.

Data Security

When it comes to data security, you want your information (and that of your customers) to be in the safest hands possible. Some companies, particularly larger ones with well-developed IT departments, prefer to have total control over how their data is managed. They want to house it on a local server, control who uses it, and have total visibility on third parties who try to access it. This all sounds great, but it’s a lot to manage – and a lot of responsibility if something goes wrong. Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, are usually designed so that the vendor manages the data. This has pros and cons as well. While it may give your business peace of mind to not have to manage the data yourself, if your software provider doesn’t have their ducks in a row an attempted hack could be catastrophic. Before you trust your software provider with critical data, make sure you understand how they protect it.

Overall Cost of Ownership

The overall cost of owning cloud vs. local software goes way beyond the initial price tag. Local solutions are often less costly to set up, but you may find yourself spending more down the road to hire an internal IT department to maintain it. Also, you’ll likely be purchasing much more of your own hardware with local solutions. Cloud-based products, on the other hand, usually cost more on their face. Many are subscription-based, meaning you’re forking over money every single month for continued access to the system. Miss a payment? Your access goes away. However, this higher price tag can be well worth it as you’ll likely experience more robust support and greater peace of mind moving forward.

Cloud vs. Local Software: Which is Right for My Business?

The answer to that question depends on your business’s needs and capabilities. If you value a bespoke solution and are prepared to pay the monetary and time costs associated with that, then go for a local product. If you’d prefer to get up and running quickly and have the software vendor handle the headaches of implementation and maintenance for you, cloud-based may be a better bet. 360 Payments is proud to work with providers on both sides of the cloud vs. local software debate. We can help you choose one, and help you set up integrated payments to boot. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website. We’d love to help you get started with integrated payments.

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