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Single License or Cloud-Based: How to Find the Right ID Management Software for Your Organization

Single License or Cloud-Based: How to Find the Right ID Management Software for Your Organization

The ID card software you choose is as important as your printer, badges and accessories. Managing your ID badge program can be challenging, if not impossible, without the proper software.

In this post, we’ll look at two software options for ID badge management: license-based and cloud-based. While both offer benefits and drawbacks, it comes down to which one is right for your organization.

Why You Need ID Card Software

If you run a badge program where credentials are printed on-site, you need ID badge software. While software varies by type and functionality, most platforms allow you to design and print badges with company branding, photos and enhanced security measures like unique identifiers or barcodes. Some of the uses for ID badge software include:

  • Badge design. Allows you to create templates featuring your logo and branding, photo identification and relevant information about each employee.
  • Data integration. Enables you to import and manage data from an external source, such as your human resources information system (HRIS).
  • Barcode and QR generation. Creates barcodes or QR codes for inclusion on badges, facilitating quick scanning and information retrieval.
  • Security features. Adds layers of security such as holograms, watermarks and magnetic stripes that can help prevent counterfeiting and unauthorized access.
  • Badge printing. Allows direct access to printing via compatible printers.
  • Access control. When linked with access control systems, this ensures only people with the proper badges can enter certain areas.
  • Data storage. Provides options for data storage either on local servers or in the cloud, based on organizational needs and preferences.

ID Card Software: Two Options

As noted earlier, there are two basic options for ID card management software: cloud-based, where software and data are stored on remote servers and accessed via the internet, and license-based, which involves purchasing a license to install the software on specific devices. Let’s look at some considerations for each one.

Licensed Software


  • One-time cost. Once you purchase the software license, there are typically no other associated costs. This works well for organizations with smaller budgets.
  • Offline operations. Does not need an internet connection.


  • Manual updates. Rather than automatically updating, it may require you to install updates to enhance security or add new features.
  • Limited reach. Since each machine must carry its own license, the software is tied to a specific location rather than being accessible across the organization.
  • Compatibility. Licensed software is often compatible with specific operating systems, like Microsoft. Other operating systems may not be compatible.

Cloud-Based Software


  • Access anywhere. All that is needed to access cloud-based software platforms is an internet connection. Users can log on from any device and any operating system from any location.
  • Scalability. As your business grows, you won’t need to purchase additional licenses to expand your badge program. Each new location can access badge software from an internet-connected device.
  • Centralized printing. With cloud-based systems, you can centralize your badge issuance. Satellite locations can send badge printing tasks to a centralized HR department — or easily collaborate with a vendor like ID Shop — to mail out the physical ID cards to respective locations.


  • Internet dependent. Cloud-based software won’t work if your internet goes down or if your connection is unreliable.
  • Ongoing costs. A set-up fee and ongoing subscription costs are typically associated with cloud-based ID card printing software.

ID Card Software: Cloud vs. License

Feature Cloud-Based Software License-Based Software
Accessibility Accessible from any internet-connected device. Access limited to specific devices that hold the software license.
Data Management Integrates with external information systems to access data from multiple locations. Can access data from external databases such as HR, security or ERP systems.
Storage Infrastructure Uses cloud-based storage. Relies on external cloud infrastructure. Data stored on local servers or devices. Uses in-house infrastructure.
Cost Set-up cost followed by ongoing subscription rate. One-time cost with additional expenses for license expansion.
Printing Print cards from anywhere, whether printing at a centralized location or in collaboration with a vendor. Print from the location that holds the license. Cards can be sent to a connected printer on-site or a vendor.

Which One Is Best For You?

Choosing between cloud-based or licensed ID card software depends on several factors. Key considerations include:

  • Size
    • For smaller organizations that operate out of one or two locations, licensed software may be the most cost-effective choice. With the one-time cost of purchasing a license, you can print the badges you need and have complete control over your system.
    • Larger organizations with multiple sites or campuses may benefit from a broader approach offered by cloud-based software. All your locations can send badge requests to a single, centralized location without worrying about licenses or compatibility.
  • Budget
    • Licensed software requires a one-time fee to purchase the license, then does not require additional monthly fees. However, if you plan to scale to multiple locations or even machines within the same site, you must repurchase the license.
    • Cloud-based software requires a setup fee and monthly subscription. This may be cost-prohibitive for smaller organizations. For larger, multi-site companies, it may save costs in the long run because it cuts down on coordination time and individual license management.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to badge printing software. Consider what fits best within your budget and organizational structure. Whether you’re a standalone shop or a sprawling health system with multiple campuses, there’s a software solution out there for you. 

HR Guide to badges download 
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