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What is the Cost of a Fire RMS?

ESO Staff

More and more fire departments are today moving towards using automated, fire-specific record management systems (RMS) to maintain operations data for their stations. From employee HR records and scheduling to incident reports, CRR program progress, and property inspection records – a configurable RMS tool can handle a wide range of data points.

Fire departments can then use these digital records to develop an accurate view of their operations quickly, see areas for improvement, explore community trends, gather metrics for accreditation and reporting, and much more. The gains a Fire RMS offers a department are countless, and it’s never been easier to enter, store, and analyze essential metrics for your department.

However, implementing a new RMS for a fire department is not without cost. A new tool can represent time spent shopping and reviewing, purchasing, setting up, and training. There is, of course, the financial investment in the initial purchase, but committing to a new RMS also means years’ worth of use by your entire team. It’s critical to understand all the factors that play into the overall cost of a Fire RMS system.

That said, while purchase prices vary by vendor, there are a few key factors that can help drive down the cost of a new Fire RMS. Understanding these elements can help ensure you’re making the best decision now – with no surprises down the road.

1. Infrastructure: On-premise vs. The Cloud

The set-up for a Fire RMS typically comes in two options: on-premise or Cloud-based solution. So what’s the difference between the two? On-premise software is installed locally on your hardware and servers. Cloud-based software is hosted on the vendor’s server and is accessible through a web browser or app. Understanding the pros and cons of these options can ensure you make the best decision for your department.

On-Premise Software:

  • Requires purchase of an enterprise license, as well as hardware, server hardware, and hosting capabilities needed to run the system.
  • Typically requires an in-house IT department or staff to keep the software up-to-date and your data clean. More work on your end, but some people like having complete control over their system.
  • If something breaks (a hard drive crashes or you lose connectivity), you’re responsible for fixing it. You’re assuming complete ownership of the software.
  • You risk losing your data if your servers go down or are ransomed.
  • Typically priced as a one-time fee. You will pay a greater/higher cost upfront for on-premise software, but then you own the license. The drawback to this is that you’ll frequently be on the hook for any upgrades or user licenses (more about this below).

Cloud-Based Software:

  • Eliminates hardware expenses for new servers and specialized equipment to securely host the RMS. Instead, your team can log into the software tool via the Internet from your existing devices.
  • No need for full-scale IT monitoring. Your IT department may still want to own administrative access for granting user-licenses or access to administrative functions. Still, they won’t need to be the owners of the entire system.
  • Enhanced security. Look for a vendor who regularly conducts audits to ensure proper security measures are in practice.
  • Easy to access. Cloud-based software simply requires a web browser and can be accessed from remote locations, as long as there is an Internet connection.
  • Fewer customization options. Since the vendor wholly owns the software, you may not be able to customize it entirely to your liking.
  • Lower costs. Since maintenance and upgrades are on the vendor’s side, you can save money in keeping those services out-of-house.
  • Cloud-based software can hold all of your data – current and historic –without hardware limitations.

2. User Licenses

An important question to ask before the purchase is how many employees need access to your Fire RMS? Depending on the vendor you select, you may need to calculate in the cost of adding user licenses later as part of your annual Fire RMS costs. If you have a larger crew, the costs can add up quickly or cause you to limit access to tools that could benefit your staff. Some vendors offer unlimited user licenses, so you don’t have to pay for each employee to access the software.

3. Support

When something goes awry in your Fire RMS, you’ll want to know there’s a way to access your vendor’s support line. However, support can cost you when purchasing a Fire RMS, so it’s important to understand how your vendor provides support. There are three ways support is typically structured.

  • On-Premise (Internal Support)
    If your software is installed locally, you’ll need to work with your own internal IT support. The benefit is that your IT teams will know your department inside and out and should be able to alleviate your problem. However, if they run into roadblocks, they may have to pay for additional support at the vendor level.
  • Tiered Support
    In this model, you pay for a service level of support in your annual subscription. Think silver, gold, bronze – and you pay for the tier of support that you believe you’ll need throughout the year. The benefit of this model is that if you have a crew that knows your Fire RMS well, you won’t have to spend funds of unneeded support costs. The drawback is that upgrades to support tiers (changing your level of support during the year) can be costly, and you may not know what level of support you need until you start to use the product.
  • Unlimited and Included Support
    Some vendors offer a support package with no limit to the amount or type of support you can access. It’s typically included in the price of your subscription and is not a separate line item. Ideally, you’ll find a vendor who can save you unexpected support costs by offering free, unlimited supported access.

4. Maintenance Fees

Your choice of infrastructure (on-premise or cloud-based) will dictate some of your maintenance costs throughout the years. For example, since on-premise software installations require you to supply your own hardware, you’ll need to allow budget for upgrades and maintenance to keep those items running. Additionally, you’ll most likely see software maintenance costs when new versions of your software are released. You may have to pay for a new license and go through the installation process again.

Conversely, cloud-based software does not have any hardware maintenance costs except those you’ll spend on the wear and tear of your existing devices. And you won’t typically need to pay for software upgrades since your vendor hosts the RMS tool, and you are simply logging in. You will still benefit from new product releases that include product functionality improvements, bug fixes, and new ways to either input or view data into the Fire RMS itself.

5. Integrations

Another consideration for your Fire RMS purchase is the cost of integrating it with your other existing software tools. You may need interactions with CAD, billing services, monitors, or other databases in order to have a complete suite of tools that meet your needs.

Review the costs of these integrations across multiple vendors to make sure none of them look wildly high compared to another vendor. Consider the daily functions of working between your systems to ensure that the process will be as smooth as possible, and you won’t face any surprise charges when integration is needed.

6. Add-Ons

As your departmental needs grow and change, you may need to add on services or programs to keep pace. Ask potential vendors which types of add-ons are available, how much they cost, and what it looks like from a contract perspective to add them into your Fire RMS later as needed. Getting the full picture of a long-term relationship helps weigh the pros and cons of each vendor.
As you can see, several factors go into pricing out the real cost of your Fire RMS. Being a smart buyer when shopping around helps ensure you’re getting the best fit for your department, with no unexpected costs or painful workarounds down the road. Purchasing a new Fire RMS is a long-term relationship, and asking the right questions helps you make the best and most informed decision possible.

Learn more about the cloud-based ESO Fire RMS, offering unlimited user licenses, included support, and a long list of available system integrations. View the demo now.

Get more Fire RMS shopping tips in the Fire Buyer’s Guide.

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