Are Your Information Systems Holding You Back?

Photo credit: Scan Technology LLC
Photo credit: Scan Technology LLC

In our busy industry, with the ongoing pressure to keep live plants moving out the door, it’s easy to see why investing in updated information systems and processes can fall down the list of priorities. However, until these things move to the top of the list, your business will always be operating below its potential. Too often, businesses miss the key to operational excellence — a well thought-out and flexible system is the foundation for conducting business today.

It’s time to stop focusing on today’s to-do list and start working toward a business model — and systems that support it — that will take you, successfully, into the future.

How Do You Know If Your Systems Are Holding You Back?

An information system (IS) is the network of hardware, software and processes that people rely on to filter, collect, create and distribute data. Effective IS infrastructure supports your business operation and allows for informed decision making.

Answer this question: Do I make decisions based on what our software and processes can handle, or do I make decisions because it is the best way to do things?

Have you ever thought, “Great idea but our accounting/payroll/CRM/CMS system can’t handle that, so it’s just not feasible”?

Then you know it’s time.

Too often, we let assumptions dictate the direction we head in. “It’s too expensive to overhaul how we do things.” Or, “We don’t have time to teach everyone a new way — let’s just make do with what we have.”

Fear can also hold us back: “There are too many options, I’m afraid of making the
wrong decision.”

If your operational excellence in the greenhouse is being nullified by systems that don’t support your processes, or if a new product or service cannot be properly implemented because your system is not flexible enough to handle the change, then you need to consider upgrading.

If this is starting to sound familiar then it is time to ask a new question: “What will happen if I don’t?”

Examine The Drawbacks Of Inaction

If you continue to operate with systems that don’t work for your business, you could quickly lose that competitive advantage you’ve worked so hard to obtain. If your business model is so inflexible that you can’t accommodate certain situations, it might start to overrule the strides you have made in quality and variety selection. Or, you could face a situation in which your employees start to get fed up with an antiquated way of working. Making informed business decisions is almost impossible with insufficient reporting and data collection, and day-to-day tasks can be made so much more difficult with archaic systems and processes in place.

So, where should you start? This process can begin in a series of steps:

1. Instill a belief in your organization that business processes and the correlating information systems can and do impact your daily business.

2. Be honest with yourself about what is working and where improvements

3. Research your options.

4. Move forward.

The first step is to truly believe that the systems and processes set up in your main office are equally important to what’s happening in your greenhouse. Then, step back and look at your way of doing business. Try to free yourself from the thinking of how you’ve always done things to how you should be doing them.

Make a list. What works, what doesn’t? Once you know what business processes need to be attacked, do your research.

What’s Better For Business: Standardized Or Customized Systems?

Sometimes businesses share a pain point and there is something that exists already to help you. Sometimes it’s as simple as better training to make the best use of the software you already have. Sometimes a custom solution is required.

In any case, the most important thing is to make your solution yours and don’t take shortcuts. Don’t try to force something to work for you if it just doesn’t. Your systems need to be flexible and fluid to truly support your business processes. Remember, your software and processes are meant to work for you, not the other way around.

Custom Technology Solutions
Pros

  • Gain a competitive advantage.
  • Software is tailored to your business requirements rather than altering your practices to fit the software.
  • Flexibility to develop in phases and implement upgrades on your schedule; implementing custom software has become much easier today than in the past.

Cons

  • Usually requires a larger budget.
  • Can take more time to implement.
  • Cost of enhancements and updates are your responsibility.

Off-The-Shelf Technology Solutions
Pros

  • No development time required; the product is available as soon as it is purchased.
  • Sometimes cost efficiencies can be gained with a mass-market product.
  • Upgrades and enhancements provided by the app owner.

Cons

  • No competitive advantage, since it is available to all competitors.
  • Custom functionality is not available. You conform to the app rather than the app conforming to you.
  • Can be expensive. Not only do you have to purchase the software, you have to pay for implementation and time upgrades.

Once you know which direction is best for you, make a commitment to it and move forward.

Innovation Is An Investment In Success

Remember, upgrading your systems is not about being cutting edge for the sake of being cutting edge. It’s about investing in the future of your business and making sure your processes support your success, not hinder it. If a company does not innovate, if it does not evolve with technology, then it cannot sustain a competitive advantage. In a time when things are moving so quickly and innovations are coming at you left and right, information is key. Without it, decisions are just guesses and if you don’t have the right system supporting you and allowing you to react quickly, then you will soon fall behind.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Are Your Information Systems Holding You Back?

More From Business Management...
Cannabis In Greenhouse

July 27, 2016

The Top 5 Myths About Cannabis Production Cleared Up

There is a lot of misleading information going around about growing cannabis. Industry insider James Lowe makes sure you know the truth about cannabis production.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Advance Industry’s Policy Priorities In Washington

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Cannabis In Greenhouse

July 27, 2016

The Top 5 Myths About Cannabis Production Cleared Up

There is a lot of misleading information going around about growing cannabis. Industry insider James Lowe makes sure you know the truth about cannabis production.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More

July 19, 2016

Do You Grow Young Plants? Only 4 Days Left To Take Our …

If your operation produces plugs or liners for wholesale growers, please take a few minutes to participate in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Young Plant Grower Survey. We know you are very busy and we value your time and input. This survey should only take a few minutes. Greenhouse Grower’s Young Plant Grower Survey has played a key role in building our Top 20 Young Plant Growers list over the years. The information helps us zero in on trends taking shape and the challenges you’re facing as young plant growers. If you have any questions about this survey or you are not the right contact for this at your operation, please email me at [email protected], or please forward the survey link to the appropriate person. We would like to wrap up this survey by July 25, so please take it soon! Thank you in advance for your participation. We value your opinion! » […]

Read More

July 9, 2016

Market The Experience Of Gardening, Minus The Fuss

Greenhouse Grower editor Laura Drotleff says the industry should promote plants and gardening in bite-size chunks that help consumers build skills.

Read More
Grower Education

July 7, 2016

Two Industry Veterans Discuss How To Meet The Challenge…

Two industry players have a conversation on how we can deliver the level of grower education needed to address complex issues associated with production practices and pest management strategies.

Read More
Briscoe White, Growers Exchange

July 6, 2016

The Grower’s Exchange Unlocks The Secret to E-Commerce

In the Internet era, Briscoe and Kenan White knew they had to adapt or die and specialize to survive. Here’s how they took The Grower’s Exchange online.

Read More
Brie Arthur

July 6, 2016

5 Can’t-Miss Events To Watch For At Farwest 2016

Whether it’s classes on biocontrols and gardening trends, or networking opportunities in and around the trade show floor, there’s plenty happening at Farwest 2016 in Portland, OR, in August.

Read More
'Violets Pride' from Week's Roses Downton Abbey Garden Rose Collection

July 6, 2016

6 Key Insights From The Generations Of Flowers Study

Being local and offering expert recommendations are hidden opportunities in the floral business. This was one of six insights during a recent webinar analyzing the Generations of Flowers study from the Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Joe Lamp'l

July 1, 2016

Gardening Personality Joe Lamp’l Will Be Keynote Speake…

Lamp’l, who hosts the PBS series “Growing a Greener World,” will discuss effective ways to build your business and keep your customers.

Read More
Cannabis states 2016

July 1, 2016

Adult Use Of Cannabis On The Ballot In 2016

25 states have legalized cannabis and public opinion is increasingly positive. Here’s where things may be headed as we move toward the fall elections.

Read More
Robert Conrad, Ball Seed Technology Research Manager

June 27, 2016

Ball Premier Lab Wins Medal Of Excellence Award For Its…

Over the past 30 years, the Ball Premier Lab has set the standard for high-quality seed in the industry, earning it Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement, for its dedication to advancing seed and helping growers improve their margins.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation …

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Y…

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

June 19, 2016

Albert Grimm Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of T…

Grimm, winner of Greenhouse Grower's Excellence in Outreach and Leadership award, is always willing to listen, continuously learn, and improve. He is a role model and empowers his employees to strive for excellence.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]