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...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More
american-hort-logo

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More
All American Selections

February 17, 2015

All-America Selections Elects New Officers, Names New J…

While meeting during the Flower and Vegetable Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla., hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, All-America Selections elected new officers for a two-year term. Read on to learn about the new officers, as well as all of the new judges that were added in 2014.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Benchmarks: Find Your Game-Changer

Refuse to accept the status quo in your organization. Explore possibilities until you find what works best for your company.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower.com on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015

GreenhouseGrower.com Relaunches With Responsive Design …

Greenhouse Grower magazine, the nation’s leader in profits, production and education for greenhouse growers, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, GreenhouseGrower.com. The new design is the product of direct user feedback and GreenhouseGrower.com analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

Read More
Noble Foundation

February 3, 2015

Lloyd Noble Scholars Program Application Period Now Ope…

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is offering college students an opportunity to work side-by-side with the Noble Foundation’s renowned agricultural consultants and researchers through the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program, a summer internship that provides students the opportunity to enhance their in-class education with real-world application and experiences.

Read More
Andy Higgins

February 3, 2015

MasterTag Names Andy Higgins As Its New President

Former CEO and president of Ecke Ranch, Andy Higgins, joins MasterTag as its new president. He brings more than two decades of industry experience to the position.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More
Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Lead Role

January 28, 2015

Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Le…

Ronald Valentin has been appointed technical lead for Syngenta Bioline, effective January 2015. He will be responsible for technical support of Bioline biological control agents and will be instrumental in helping growers develop integrated pest management (IPM) solutions.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Innovation Drives Growth At Plantpeddler

Mike and Rachel Gooder, owners of Plantpeddler, a 400,000-square-foot, multi-divisional greenhouse tucked away in Cresco, Iowa, have a unique foresight that allows them to turn potential into profitable reality.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 28, 2015

Retailer To Grower: The Right Plants Are Hard To Find

Retailers say too many growers offer the same plants, leading to a lopsided plant supply. They offer a simple solution: Talk To Your Customers.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Give Equal Time To The Number Crunchers

Before investing in a new business opportunity, check in with the financial gurus of your organization to make certain you have the cash flow to back up your efforts.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More
Costa Farms Website

January 21, 2015

Costa Farms’ Launches New Interactive Website

Costa Farms is making efforts to educate consumers while pushing horticultural digital marketing forward with the re-design of its website. The new website features a fresh design and improved navigation, as well as a plant finder that gives gardeners easy access to plant information.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More