The June 2017 issue of American Cemetery & Cremation Magazine is out and features a wealth of knowledge for those in the cemetery & cremation industry. A new feature in this month’s issue is the “Technology Touch Point”, where cemetery & cremation professionals can ask questions of industry leaders in the field of cemetery software.
Scott McAfee, Chief Operating Officer of Cemsites, helps answer this month’s question: “We are planning to upgrade our technology in the near future. What steps should we take to find the right product to meet our needs, and how do we prepare for these upgrades?”
“Upgrading your cemetery’s technology can be very exciting for the organization and community. The benefits can make a dramatic impact on productivity, customer service, and revenue. Most cemeteries are technology-challenged, and now that all generations use a smartphone and post on Facebook, the expectations from customers and employees have changed. But how can you get with the times when everything is so out of date?
Planning is critical, and it will be a major component of success. Before you can find the right product(s) you must first establish a vision for technology. A cemetery can look to technology to solve a number of challenges:
Theft. Security cameras and monitoring systems are more sophisticated than ever.
Mapping. Risks of mistakenly selling the same grave due to aged maps can be avoided with mapping software.
Eliminating double work. Smart database software can prevent mistakes and double entry.
Cash flow. Accounts receivable software can help those preneed payments come in on time.
Communication. Two-way radios don’t record those verbal directives that digital work orders track.
Software is simplifying cemetery operations and saving on resources.
Whether your goal is to save the environment by going paperless or decrease labor costs with better organization, software can be a big part of the solution. To help your cemetery stay focused, follow these three simple steps: (1) List all of your needs and desires. (2) Prioritize that list. (3) Split the list into ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves.’ After you have analyzed how existing operations can be improved, you can then shift focus to identify what kind of software will put you in the best position to reach your goals.
Here are brief descriptions and some pros/cons to three major types:
- Desktop. An application that runs standalone on a desktop or laptop computer and usually comes on a disk or a download file. It’s less expensive upfront but is limited in its features. For example, sharing public information like grave locations, obituaries etc. in a local database makes it difficult to publish online. Also, because it’s all on your computer/server it’s your responsibility to maintain and backup.
- Cloud. Cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive. In business, this is called Software-as-a-Service, where the business subscribes to an application it accesses over the internet. Although they come with licensing fees, the benefits are quickly realized with no large upgrade costs, accessibility from anywhere on any device and peace of mind that a single computer crash won’t erase decades worth of data.
- Hybrid. It is accessed over the internet but requires a download per device to enable functionality. Though it can offer more user control, it requires both cloud and desktop technologies, making it more complex, often expensive solution over time. It is also device dependent, limiting usage.
After deciding on the type, find all the available software companies that specialize in that product offering.
This can be done by doing research online for cemetery cloud or database software. Trade events and magazine advertisers are other good sources to utilize. Request a live demonstration of the solution and validate that the software speaks to your “must-haves.” Use that checklist of “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” to make sure you cover everything on each demo.
List your specific needs to be quoted and ask for other items to be quoted as supplemental or additional options. That way, you can compare apples to apples what is most important to you when receiving quotes from different vendors. Other items to evaluate would be annual licensing and support offerings, as these can differ greatly from vendor to vendor.
Preparing your team for new technology is as important as choosing the right product. Technology can only benefit your cemetery if it is used. To successfully change technology, you will need to remember it will be a process and will take partnership. Success will ultimately be determined by adoption of the new technology.”
You can purchase this month’s issue of American Cemetery & Cremation here.