The power of cloud-based planning
In my career, I worked a couple of years for a software company selling Business Intelligence and Planning software. In these days, we had a major release each year of our planning software and once available, we knew we had to start to make appointments for upgrades at our customers. The appointments had to be planned cautiously in time because an upgrade of the software meant a long downtime for the users. And preparations had to be in place, such as backup creations, before we started to upgrade. Furthermore, admin access to the hardware and dedicated IT support while we were on premise, test capacity once the new software was installed, roll back scenario if, for whatever reason, the installation was not successful. It kept us busy, for months, to upgrade all our customers. The process was cumbersome (remember the use of floppy disks and replacing one with the next during an installation process?) and error-prone.
But that was in the old days. Nowadays, all new planning platforms that are developed are cloud-based. And what a blessing that is! No more installations by consultants or IT departments, no more lengthy downtimes during the upgrade, no expensive hardware to maintain by IT. All that hassle is now the responsibility and under control of the cloud-based software provider. They maintain the technical infrastructure to make sure it is up-to-date, safe and running smoothly. Backups are created based on agreed plans. Once a major upgrade is scheduled, as a user, I receive a notification by email weeks upfront and get a few reminders until the actual upgrade takes place. This upgrade is always performed during weekends, so no downtime during business hours.
In my career, I have never come across an upgrade of a cloud-based planning platform that caused issues afterwards. Maybe once that an upgrade had to be rolled back due to unforeseen issues, but that is it. So from an end user perspective, a very pleasant thought. And I can image that most end users nowadays got so used to this way of working, that they cannot imagine how an upgrade was done in the old days. A huge advantage compared to the on-premise installations.
Another advantage of these cloud-based platforms is performance. When the software is installed locally, your IT was responsible for the maintenance of the technical backbone. Decreased the performance? Run optimisation scripts, free up disk space. Does that not work? Add one (or more) additional servers, which had to be prepared (configuration, software installations) and tested. A costly and lengthy process. With cloud-based platforms, performance is part of the Service-Level Agreement (SLA) that is established between the supplier and your business. Is performance decreasing and falling below the level agreed in the SLA? The supplier will monitor and adjust accordingly in time.
One last advantage I want to mention is the unification of platform. In the old days, as a software vendor, we had to keep track which customer used which version of our planning software. The customer could decide not to upgrade this time and keep on running their business using the old version. Further complicating it when trying to install future upgrades. With cloud-based platforms, every customer is using the same platform, but each customer can decide to integrate new functionality that was made available with an upgrade. This reduces the effort needed from the supplier to maintain several versions, reduces the test work and the workload of the support organisation.
Cloud-based planning platforms are a blessing, for the customers as well as for the suppliers. These platforms have many advantages like speed, usability, maintenance, and upgrades compared to the legacy planning platforms. If you’re considering a new planning platform and want to be prepared for the future, make sure you make the right decision. If you want to discuss which options you have, kindly let us know, we have an opinion which platform could be of support to you.