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Why cloud-based software is critical for digitizing your front office

Why cloud-based software is critical for digitizing your front office

Industry 4.0 is empowering manufacturers to find entirely new levels of efficiency and automation. But as you rely on digital tools, you make your business more susceptible to security breaches, service outages, and data loss. In order to stay competitive, you need to adopt leading technologies while managing that risk. Job shops and contract manufacturers should embrace cloud solutions to enable the benefits of automation and digitizing the front office while ensuring their data remains secure.

Research shows that the number of publicly recorded ransomware attacks against manufacturing has tripled in the last year alone–and even job shops and contract manufacturers are at risk: 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. And if that isn’t enough to make you take cybersecurity seriously, your buyers sure do, and the reality is that they will start to evaluate you based on security standards if they are not doing so already. They want to know you are protecting their intellectual property.

How does your shop manage part files and prints? How old is your ERP system? Where do you backup your hard drive and is it done automatically? If you’re storing customer files on your PC and running an ERP on-premises, have you considered moving to a cloud-based solution? Running your shop in the cloud has some serious benefits.

Activities like sales, estimating, quoting, and procurement require a lot of collaboration and benefit from a secure cloud platform that can streamline efforts and protect against cybersecurity breaches, one of the largest threats to the manufacturing industry.

When analyzing front office software, look for a technology that provides all of the key benefits of the cloud:

1. Remote Accessibility – Access Your Shop Data Anywhere
Teams across the supply chain suddenly find themselves members of a nearly all-remote workforce and need secure access to critical data from anywhere, at any time, to do their jobs. For example, with cloud-based quoting software, you can quote from anywhere.

We talk to job shop owners all the time whose shops literally can’t quote parts when they go on vacation or can’t make it to the office. How many jobs have you lost because the RFQ came in after you left the office and a competitor got a quote out faster? With 67% of buyers expecting a quote in less than 24 hours from the time they submit an RFQ, the sooner you turn around that RFQ, the higher your win rate will be. With cloud-based software, you can quickly respond to an RFQ from anywhere with Internet connection.

Chris Sweeney, Sweeney Metal Fabricators digitizing the front office

Sweeney Metal Fabricators Provides an Urgent Quote From the Soccer Field:
Chris Sweeney, Director of Operations at Sweeney Metal Fabricators, was at his daughter’s sporting event and he received an email from a customer who needed a quote immediately and couldn’t wait until Monday morning. He was able to download the STEP file right there on his phone, upload it into Paperless Parts, and give him a quote from the field. This is the beauty of cloud-based software, your ERP system can’t provide this availability. Watch the full video.

2. Risk Management – Keep Your Data Safe
If you have software systems hosted on your own servers (on-premises), how resilient is this to data loss and failure? When you run software on your own computers or servers, downtime events might occur less often, but when they strike, they can be catastrophic. Did you know half of all hard drives die within six years? How old are the hard drives in your servers? On how many hard drives have you backed up your critical data? What would you do if your main office PC or your ERP server just didn’t turn on tomorrow? Cloud-based software eliminates the risk of losing data or not being able to access data if a server crashes.

3. Up To Date and Managed For You
For those who are busy, there isn’t anything more irritating than having to wait for system updates to be installed. True cloud-based software stays up to date with the newest advancements in technology, automatically updates, keeps up with cyber threats, and is completely managed for you. This means there will be no need to install updates, no need for a server, no additional capital expenses, and you will not require additional IT support. Today you may have gigabytes of parts, but in 6 months you could have terabytes of parts. Would you rather worry about updating your servers for more capacity or do you prefer your cloud provider take care of this for you with unlimited capacity?

Steer clear of antiquated software like on-premises solutions that only update once a year. The rate of change in software is moving at a dramatic pace, make sure your software is updating regularly, without changing the user experience drastically, so you are getting the most out of your investment.

As manufacturers create their compliance programs, they need to consider how every vendor and software system impacts their security posture. With traditional software tools, export-controlled data is frequently exchanged and stored using non-compliant systems such as email, unencrypted mobile devices, and inadequately maintained on-premise computers and servers.

Download The Machine Shop’s Guide to Evaluating the Right Front Office Software for a checklist of the right questions to ask when evaluating software providers for security.

The Machine Shop’s Guide to Evaluating the Right Front Office Software

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