During the past decade, Computerized Maintenance Management Software’s (CMMS) rapid rise in popularity attests to its sustained track record of streamlining maintenance operations. As more and more business owners have come to realize, keeping in step with tight operating margins, industry trends and market demands requires more than what manual or “pencil and paper” approaches are able to offer. For these reasons, an increasing number of companies spanning a wide range of industry, corporate and service sectors are now opting for automated maintenance management systems that have overtime demonstrated that they are not only cost effective but also improve operating efficiency and increase their overall bottom line.
When making the decision to move to a CMMS, business owners tend to focus primarily on learning about system capabilities, features, supports and costs as well as methods of implementation and ease of use. Customers are drawn to CMMSs because of their robust features that include mobile access with voice command and imaging capabilities as well as customized preventive maintenance plan. This latter feature is a major drawing card for businesses because it conserves the life span of equipment while at the same time saves time, resources and money because unexpected and costly breakdowns that interfere with production cycles can be prevented.
Yet in spite of these benefits, one issue that is not given much weight in the decision making process is CMMS security. Since maintenance management software is available in both cloud based and on premise platforms, the issue of system security is something worth serious consideration. Here I’ll examine how CMMS security is maintained using both of the available CMMS platform options.
CMMS Security Explained
The security of any CMMS system is largely dependent upon the integrity of security measures as well as the consistency of use by an end user. When thinking about CMMS security overall, two areas come to mind: data security and user security. While cloud based systems offer customers worry free security, they are constrained by the software vendor’s maintenance schedules. On the other hand, while on premise CMMS systems offer their customers more autonomy over their data, they require ongoing in-house maintenance by a staff technician.
Cloud Based CMMS Security
Customers find cloud based CMMSs attractive because of their simplicity and cost saving benefits. Web based CMMSs are accessed through a vendor’s server with all maintenance and upgrades provided remotely. Using this platform, there is no need for any in-house system support or additional security software installation. Up front costs for cloud based systems are less than for on premise installed systems. Overall, with cloud based CMMS software, the work, worry and added costs of maintenance and upgrades are all taken care of.
Protecting companies’ maintenance, inventory and procurement system and data against unauthorized access and transactions is critical for effective management, command and control. Cloud based CMMS systems utilize sophisticated data encryption protocols that are routinely updated and maintained over time, as needed. CMMS software vendors offering web-based deployment go to great lengths to ensure that their customers’ data are secure and that downtime is minimized. This is done through using third party data centers like Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Azure. In addition, vendors offering cloud based deployment will also run frequent vulnerability and penetration tests ensuring that their clients’ data are not compromised or accessible by others.
On Premise CMMS Security
The greatest appeal of on premise CMMS systems is that they offer maintenance managers full control and customizability of their data and the system. For example, on premise system operators are able to schedule their system maintenance and upgrades based on their own schedule and not according to that of cloud based vendors. While premise systems may be less vulnerable to global hacking threats, they rely exclusively on the security software selected by the company as well as the skills of in-house IT personnel and the vigilance of system users. With cloud-based systems, security maintenance, firewalls, upgrades, patches and antivirus software are all provided by the vendor; on premise systems require that these be manually managed. As a final note, apart from the cost of security related software and in house tech staff, on premise systems have a much higher upfront cost - often four times that of cloud based CMMSs minus the ongoing subscription costs.
CMMS User Security
Both cloud based and on premise CMMS platforms employs user access security. The following is a list of related features that are offered by many maintenance management software vendors:
- Access security across database, plant, menu, function, window, and data element levels ensuring full control of user access by design
- Maintenance managers can specify role security profiles and assign users to roles such that user access can be predetermined to some or all areas of a CMMS system
- Login IDs and passwords can be encrypted making access to the database externally impossible
- Password length, number of logins and password change requirements can be set
- Central purchasing controls for multiple locations can be established
- An audit trail of access, activity and transactions can be generated
Using these and other access features ensures that specified users only see authorized details. This means that no unauthorized access is permitted to any or all parts of the system.
CMMS systems have made a huge impact on how maintenance departments operate. Through consistent and appropriate use, automated maintenance management systems can help business owners prolong equipment lifespans, reduce costs and more efficiently utilize resources. But apart from offering these benefits, CMMS software developers are also committed to ensuring that system vulnerabilities posed by viruses and external hacking do not occur. They do this by incorporating state of the art security measures. Because of this, CMMS customers can be assured that all their data are protected while the system oversees maintenance functions.