The transition into automation is inevitable. Sitting on center stage as we enter into the new decade is the massive and rapid transition into automation that our society is trending into as a whole. Whether it be your mode of transportation, grocery shopping, the manufacturing that takes place all over the county, or the way you collect and read data, automation has wiggled its way into your life in some form or another.
A healthy question to ask is, has it made its way into your business?
If not, that begs the question, if everything else is moving in that direction, why aren’t you and your operation?
Automation doesn’t have to mean integrating robots into your operation. Rather, it could be implementing a fleet of small devices designed to increase and improve your workflow.
The goal of automation is to simplify certain tasks in order to open up the opportunity to invest time in other more complex activities, or perhaps even new tasks altogether.
A common reason why people do not participate in the transition into operational software systems is because it is simply an intimidating mission to embark on. We completely agree. It requires you to completely change the way you have done something for years on end. Change is intimidating, that is really all there is to it.
Innovative Software Solutions understands that this transition into a more tech focused platform to run your operation can be quite intimidating, and we want to help you!
In this article we are going to lay out a couple of tips and tricks our President has come up with from 30+ years of creating, selling, and deploying software in the Horticulture industry. Our hope is that these tip’s will help guide you down the path to making a confident decision in which software makes the most sense to automate your business. A decision that will bring forth ease, efficiency, and accuracy into your operation.
# 1: Get Prepared
First and foremost, the most important thing one can do in preparation for implementing a software system is to determine your why behind that decision? There must be a clear need that a software solution is going to fill. The first step is to identify where that need is.
A phenomenal starting point is a company or operation wide analysis.
- Where are your greatest weaknesses?
- Where are your greatest in efficiencies?
- Where you would like to improve?
By identifying the answers to these key questions, you will ensure that you are selecting the software that is tailored to fit your specific needs, as opposed to selecting a familiar or well-known option, that will merely graze over some of your needs, as opposed to actually address them. This is the main difference between a vertical software solution and a horizontal solution.
Second is PLANNING. It is recommended that you address the longevity and endurance of this transition.
Selecting and onboarding to a new software solution is a major decision and pivotal point in the growth of your operation. It may take some time to become fully functioning within the software. It is vital that you ensure you and your team have the resources and preparation for that process to begin. You must embark on the journey as a committed and patient team in order to see the true ROI take place.
ROI is another important thing to consider in this process. Some good questions to ask may be:
- What is the time frame before you break even financially?
- What are the specific ways that this implementation is going to benefit your operation in the long run?
- Where will you be able to cut costs right away once you’re running said software?
Remaining patient and diligent in your training/onboarding will be of exponential value to you and your team.
# 2: Ask Questions
As we have mentioned buying software can be unknown and complex. One of the keys to curbing this intimidation is to ask a lot of questions. You can never ask too many questions, and the software that is going to be the right fit for you, will surely be happy to answer them!
A key request to make, is to see a live or online demonstration done of the software. By seeing a live presentation of the software, you will get a better understanding of the complexity and key functions this software provides. Be specific with your request and what you would like to see demonstrated. Every growing operation is conducted differently, so unless asked, you may be brought through a demonstration that may not be specific to your needs.
What are the key functions your operation will be utilizing in this software?
Whatever those may be, make sure to focus on those in your demo.
A second critical question to address is a request for references of the software. Request the names of 2-3 other growers who are currently using the software. Reach out to those growers to ask questions regarding the software system you are investigating. Use these questions to help determine how this software solution will fit into your growing operation. This is the ultimate detector of a good software both in terms of company integrity, and quality of service.
Don’t just focus on the software, but also evaluate the company behind the software. Do they have a good reputation for providing quality service? Do they fully understand the industry that you work in?
# 3: Growth Evaluation
The reason that you need software in the first place is because your operation is growing!
Hopefully with a new software tailored to your needs, your operation will continue to grow, and at an even faster rate than before. That being said, it is important to ensure that the software you choose is going to evolve alongside your growing operation. It will prove to be ineffective and non-lucrative if the software chosen will only be effective for a couple of years, and then inefficiencies and inadequacies will begin to arise again.
This can be safeguarded against by ensuring that there are updates being made to this software on a semi regular basis that enhance its functionality, and keep up to date with technology trends and capabilities.
How often and how significant are those upgrades? It will also be important to understand what influence you have over these upgrades.
Will your ideas, and suggestions be taken into account by the software development team?
Do your best to get a sense of what the company’s long term and short term plans are in regards to growth.
Purchasing and onboarding onto a new software doesn’t have to be the frightening ordeal that it has become. You just need to be prepared and informed of the ways that you can be proactive in the process, as opposed to reactive.
Hopefully these tips will prove to be helpful in equipping you to make the most informed decision possible when selecting a software for your growing operation.
The beauty of having a tailored solution is at your fingertips!