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...

April 17, 2015

Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plants To Give Back

Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.

Read More
Hakonochloa macra Aureola v

April 17, 2015

Ornamental Grasses — A Few Thoughts

Grasses have been embraced by growers, landscape architects and retailers, and are an important component in wholesale and resale sales. Allan Armitage shares some popular grasses, one to avoid and a few to use with caution.

Read More
PW_CAST15

April 17, 2015

Allan Armitage’s Favorite Plants From Proven Winners, Syngenta And Danziger

Between visiting California Spring Trial giants like Proven Winners, Syngenta and Danziger, Allan Armitage saw a lot of great plants in one day. Despite the size of the challenge, Dr. Armitage finds a few favorites he thinks you should try.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 15, 2015

Redesigned SunPatiens Website Offers New Tools For Saka…

Sakata Seed America's new and improved SunPatiens website launched March 1, 2015 and provides growing information, marketing support, product location and many more tools to encourage consumer success with SunPatiens.

Read More
Farwest2015

April 15, 2015

Online Registration For FarWest 2015 Open, Discount Bef…

Online registration is now open for FarWest 2015, a green industry educational conference and tradeshow, which will take place August 27 to 29 in Portland, Ore. The show promises a full menu of classes, seminars and off-site events, plus a special benefit added this year for attendees.

Read More
Syngenta logo

April 15, 2015

Syngenta Names Chris Freeman Senior Key Account Manager…

Chris Freeman is the new senior key account manager for Syngenta Flowers, Home & Garden's Commercial Sales business in the Americas, effective March 2015. Freeman, who joined Syngenta in 2006, carries more than 25 years of experience in the agriculture and floriculture business.

Read More
Janeen Wright

April 13, 2015

Different Routes Lead To New Growth In Your Greenhouse

The path you take to success in your greenhouse may not be the well-traveled one, but the end result can still be the same — growth for you and your greenhouse business.

Read More
Restricting foliar pesticide applications on blooming plants to early morning or as dusk approaches in the evening reduces direct exposure to bees.

April 10, 2015

10 Steps For Protecting Crops And Bees

Bees stay safe and high quality crops thrive when you use bee-friendly practices designed to help both succeed. Griffin Greenhouse Supply Pro (GGSPro) has been actively discussing bee-friendly pesticide use for years. Based on its current understanding of the science and social factors at play, GGSPro currently recommends these 10 bee-friendly practices.

Read More
Lake Buchanan_LCRA

April 10, 2015

USDA Designates Areas Of West And Southwest As Drought …

The ongoing drought has resulted in disaster area designations in counties across nine Western and Southwestern states, including Texas, where some reservoirs are at or near historically low levels.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Altman Plants’ Online Cactus Shop Shows Strong Sa…

Altman Plants recently opened its new Cactus Shop, an online retail store that sells a variety of cactus and succulents. The store is a take-off of Altman’s original wholesale business, as the company started as a mail order catalog.

Read More
Dummen

April 8, 2015

Dümmen Group Welcomes Jim Devereux And Andrew Konicki T…

Dümmen group recently announced the addition of Jim Devereux and Andrew Konicki to its team. They are the newest members of the Key Account and Broker Support team for Dümmen, and will be responsible for building, developing and maintaining current broker and grower customer relationships.

Read More
Todd Woodfield

April 8, 2015

Sustainable Horticulture Pays Off

Practicing holistic horticulture has saved money and improved plant quality for Abby Farms. Its manager shares where the operation has seen differences from conventional production.

Read More
Gov._Jerry_Brown_California

April 8, 2015

California Institutes First Ever Statewide Mandatory Wa…

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced April 1 that, for the first time in state history, action will be taken to implement mandatory water restrictions, with the ultimate goal of reducing water usage by 25 percent. As Californians are pushed to conserve more, growers will need to think about how demand for products will be affected.

Read More
HRI logo

April 8, 2015

Horticultural Research Institute Accepting Scholarship …

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is offering seven scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year, totaling $20,000. Applications will be accepted through May 31.

Read More
american-hort-logo

April 8, 2015

AmericanHort And State Associations Advocate For Workfo…

AmericanHort, along with roughly two dozen other state association partners, joined nearly 140 organizations in a letter to the House of Representatives responding to the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.1147), which is being voted on without provisions that would ensure legal workforce options for agricultural and seasonal employers. H.R.1147 would mandate that all U.S. employers use the federal E-Verify program.

Read More

April 1, 2015

Philadelphia Flower Show Draws More Than 250,000 Attend…

With more than 250,000 consumers attending the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show in March each year, it's a great opportunity to get flowers and gardening products into the public eye. This year's show displays took on family favorites at the movies, with a focus on Disney and Pixar films. Check out some of the highlights in our slideshow.

Read More
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates H…

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More
DNA-logo

March 31, 2015

DNA Green Group Will Acquire Rijnplant

DNA Green Group and Riknplant have finalized DNA Green Group's acquisition of Rijnplant, meaning that the breeding and propagation activities in pot and cut anthurium, bougainvillea and heliconia will transfer to DNA Green Group.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Hor…

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadl…

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More