Aspiring craft beverage makers are often stretched in numerous directions and running their businesses at warp speed. Even after a full day of production processes, there’s a ton of operational responsibilities to manage. Readily accessing information in real-time may be adding to the chaos if they’re using a combination of computer tools, paper and/or white board collections to track their operations. This can quickly become unmanageable.
If this sounds familiar, it might be a good time to consider investing in a business management software solution — one system that manages how many products, batches, recipes, tasks, and inventory items your business has and uses. It’s actually not that complicated. But what can be complicated is the decision between choosing a cloud-based system, or on-premise software system.
Which one makes the most sense for your company?
On-premise software lives within your facility, on your owned computer systems and can only be accessed from specific computers. You buy the software and the hardware, and you run that system in-house including all the maintenance, upgrades, security and other ongoing needs.
With on-premise software, you often have to pay for additional updates or new versions of the software. It’s a lot to manage, especially if you don’t have a dedicated IT team on site to handle issues with that hardware.
Cloud-based brewery software can be accessed from anywhere, at any time over the Internet. It is regularly updated by your vendor at no extra cost to you and your software vendor takes care of security, storage, and overall maintenance without any effort from your side or any extra costs. Having your computers and devices running free of all that data, let alone the freedom from self-maintaining your own brewery management software and hardware, can provide immediate advantages, but there’s even more goodness in the cloud.
As your business grows, so does the amount of data you have. On-premise solutions require expensive hardware upgrades just to ensure you have enough storage space for your data. This is, of course, not ideal.
If you expect significant growth any time in the next few years, a cloud-based solution will likely fit your team’s needs best as you can easily upgrade your software solution without having the hardware to go with it. Let the tech professionals handle the nitty gritty details.
Work from anywhere
With on-premise software, only devices that have physical access to the database will be able to work in the system — meaning your teams who are often on the road, like sales and delivery, will have to wait until they’re in the office to update the status of invoices, deliveries, payments, and more.
This communication lag isn’t practical when the success of your business depends on each team having access to up-to-date critical information regarding the sales and production processes. On-premise software may also not be available on mobile devices.
More mobile features
Basically any cloud-based brewery software you look at will have some sort of mobile app, but not all apps are created equal. When you choose a company with an on-premise solution, understand that many of the features that you use in the desktop version of the platform may be unavailable on mobile or tablet devices due to how much data is required.
It would take an extraordinary amount of storage space — and time — to load all features on phones or tablets that don’t access software via the cloud, so many of these apps will be “light” versions, or you may be required to download separate apps for all the functionality you’re used to.
Fitting in with other brewery tech
Do you already use other pieces of technology to help your team communicate and share information better? Cloud-based brewery software can be another (BIG!) piece of the puzzle that closes the gap among teams and helps your brewery’s processes operate seamlessly from day to day. Brewery favorites include:
- Communication apps, like Slack: For instant communication. Easily create “channels” for each team so that team members can quickly share updates as needed.
- Task management apps, like Trello: A good brewery management software will already provide task management tools, but if yours doesn’t, there are plenty of options out there to help your team stay on the same page.
Document sharing apps, like Google Docs and Sheets: Again, great cloud-based brewery software should limit the need for using spreadsheets or documents to share information. However, if you need to share a document or spreadsheet with your team, these tools can help.
Focus on your beer, not your computers
How much do you know about managing servers? Is it in your budget to hire at least one dedicated IT professional to manage and troubleshoot IT-related issues for you? If not, an on-premise solutions is likely unwise for your team. When you’re busy managing your business or brewing beer, you don’t want to be pulled away to deal with computer issues. Save yourself the headache.
Greg Forehand is the CTO at Ekos.