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

  • 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.


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

Off-The-Shelf Technology Solutions

  • 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.


  • 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...

November 26, 2015

2015 Metrolina Greenhouses (Huntersville, NC) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

Read More
Yoshimi And Grace Shibata

November 26, 2015

American Floral Endowment Establishes Fund To Honor Legacy Of Yoshimi Shibata

Yoshimi “Shimi” Shibata, a flower grower and wholesale florist, passed away in October at the age of 100.

Read More
Vinca 'Valiant Lilac' (2015 Texas A&M University Field Trials)

November 25, 2015

2015 Texas A&M University (Overton, Texas) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton, Texas.

Read More
Latest Stories

November 25, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About the New England GROWS…

Held In Boston December 2-4, New England GROWS includes a comprehensive conference program, a trade show, and with six special programs that teach new skills and provide opportunities to network with colleagues.

Read More
Giving Tuesday

November 24, 2015

Giving Tuesday On December 1 Is An Opportunity For The …

Organizations such as American Floral Endowment and others are encouraging industry members to participate in the generous spirit of the holiday season.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

November 24, 2015

Random Acts Of Flowers Partners With FTD And Pro Flower…

The organization, which recycles and repurposes flowers with a volunteer team that delivers bouquets to health care facilities across the country, made its 100,000th delivery to a health care facility in Chicago.

Read More

November 23, 2015

Content Marketing: Buzzword Or Here To Stay?

A solid content marketing strategy provides valuable information that educates your consumers and builds trust.

Read More
Gotham Greens Chicago Rooftop Greenhouse

November 23, 2015

Gotham Greens Expands Into Chicago With New Rooftop Gre…

Touted as the world’s largest rooftop greenhouse, the company’s fourth facility is its first outside of New York and will produce nearly 10 million annual crops of local, premium-quality leafy greens and herbs.

Read More
Craig Regelbrugge Feature Image

November 23, 2015

Pollinator Initiatives Offer Opportunities For Growers,…

During Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers Breakfast at Cultivate'15, Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort senior vice president for industry advocacy and research, discussed where things stand on the regulatory front with neonicotinoids, and the new Grow Wise, Bee Smart initiative.

Read More

November 20, 2015

Lessons Learned From The California Drought

For those of us who live in the areas of the country that experienced harsh winters and significant rain over the past three seasons, water has become a nuisance in some cases, rather than a blessing. I can’t count the number of times I have wished to be able to send the snow or the rain to the West Coast, tied up with a big red bow. But think about how we’d feel if we didn’t have the snow and the rain, and we were experiencing the same dry conditions that the residents of California, Oregon and Washington have. With fresh water supplies dwindling in regions of the world, and the resistance of residents in states like Michigan to share water from the Great Lakes, it’s likely that the next civil or world war could be fought over our most precious resource. California’s epic drought should cause everyone to look […]

Read More
Kate Santos Operations Director Dummen Orange

November 18, 2015

Kate Santos Presents New Opportunities For The Horticul…

Dr. Kate Santos is a scientist, an artist, an advocate, a traveler, a dreamer, a visionary and a go-getter. Well-known for her work managing Dümmen Orange as Operations Director, Santos has taken on a new role as co-founder of Luxflora, an organization for women in horticulture.

Read More
MPS Sustainable Quality Logo

November 17, 2015

International Seminar Finds Broad-Based Need For Indust…

Achieving durability and maximum transparency is the responsibility of the entire floriculture supply chain, was the main conclusion of the seminar “Shaping the Future of Floriculture,” which took place on Monday 9 November on the S.S. Rotterdam in The Netherlands. With just under 300 participants, the seminar, organized by Union Fleurs, VGB and MPS, received plenty of attention.

Read More
AmericanHort logo

November 17, 2015

Urgent: Your Voice Is Needed On Two Important H-2B Bill…

Two bills concerning the H-2B program were recently introduced in the House and Senate (H.R.3918 and S.2225). Both bills address key issues that employers continue to face with the H-2B program. Please urge your members of Congress to support these bills.

Read More

November 17, 2015

AmericanHort Moving Forward In Search For New CEO

The association is planning to enlist the help of a consulting firm that will solicit candidates best suited to lead the organization and serve the horticulture industry.

Read More
Costa Farms Owners

November 17, 2015

Costa Farms Named As International Grower Of The Year F…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers has announced its finalists for the International Grower of the Year award, and the list includes Costa Farms of Miami, Fla.

Read More
Bell Nursery reaches out by supporting projects that help children connect with plants

November 12, 2015

Bell Nursery Is An Advocate For Outreach In Its Communi…

In a heavily regulated society, growing relationships is just as important to our industry as growing beautiful flowers. In environmentally sensitive states like Maryland, outreach has become mandatory, says Bell Nursery’s Gary Mangum.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

November 11, 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State of The In…

The State of the Industry report, which uses input from both growers and suppliers, is designed to help you understand this year's crop and sales trends, as well as the issues that keep you up at night.

Read More

November 11, 2015

Drought Has Triggered A New Normal For The California L…

California is now entering its fifth year of the worst drought in 500 years, with no end in sight. Weather experts predict the current drought will continue into 2016, despite optimistic projections of increased rain patterns this winter caused by a strong El Niño ocean current. Residents have fully bought in to the emergency, and embraced Governor Jerry Brown’s April 1 mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent. Even after an above-average hot summer, the state has exceeded its goal, with a per-month average of 28 percent water reduction. Some of the ways homeowners are being encouraged to reduce their outdoor water use are concerning, but the good news is, drought-tolerant landscaping and awareness of water-wise gardening is on the rise. Cash For Grass Rebates Have Landowners Trading In Their Lawns When Governor Brown’s water reduction mandate was announced in April, consumer reaction was reflected in the sales at […]

Read More
GreenhouseConnect 2015 Grower Supplier Meeting

November 10, 2015

Growers And Suppliers Exchange Solutions And Ideas At G…

Held this year in San Diego at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, GreenhouseConnect 2015 brought growers and suppliers together in a setting designed to amplify networking and collaboration.

Read More
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – University of Minnesota

November 6, 2015

The Top 10 Most Beautiful College Arboretums

The best arboretums provide an ideal location for the study and contemplation of nature. Check out Best College Reviews’ rankings of the nation’s most beautiful arboretums.

Read More
Dave Armstrong Sakata Holding Corp.

November 5, 2015

Why Lobbying For Plant Breeding Is Important

Horticulture industry members who take the opportunity to advise Washington legislators on agricultural policy will find a surprisingly receptive audience.

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