November 2014: Editorial advisory board

November 10, 2014 -  By

What is your advice for green industry companies on the hunt for software solutions?

Advisory Board

Landscape Professionals

Richard Bare

Arbor-Nomics Turf, Norcross, Ga.

“Find a great IT consultant. Go to the GIE+EXPO trade show and shop around. Discuss and network with great competitors and see what they’re using.”

Chris Joyce

Joyce Landscaping, Cape Cod, Mass.

“Whatever product you’re looking at should not just solve an immediate need. It should be aligned with the strategic plan for the foreseeable future.”

Adam Linnemann

Linnemann Lawn Care & Landscaping, Waterloo, Ill.

“Go with a cloud-based software version so you can access your information anywhere.”

Greg Winchel

Winchel Irrigation, Grandville, Mich.

“First, have a good understanding of what you’d like the software to accomplish and how you’ll implement the changes the new software will bring. Next, make sure the software you purchase is customizable for your exact needs. Even though the software may be for landscape companies, you probably operate your company differently than a contractor in a different region or have different needs. Finally, understand the commitment to making the company and employees change may take more effort in the beginning to fully achieve the goal of the software.”

Industry Consultants

Kevin Kehoe

3PG Consulting, Laguna, Calif.

“Go with mobile, cloud-based software specifically designed for the green industry where support and service from the vendor are linked to marrying their product to best business practices. Too often users and vendors attempt to solve business process dysfunctions with a software solution. It rarely works, it simply makes the software more complicated and difficult to use and the contractor no better off. The No. 1 complaint by contractors regarding software they purchased? Lack of service, support and advice on how to make the vendor’s software a true business solution that helps the contractor make money.”

Phil Harwood

Pro-Motion Consulting, Farmington, Mich.

“Be careful. Too many contractors jump into the pool without knowing how deep the water is first. Do your homework and be patient as you evaluate different options. A bad decision may be extremely expensive and damaging to your business.”

Frank Ross

3PG Consulting, Alpharetta, Ga.

“There are a plethora of software solutions available in the market today and more coming with each day that passes. The challenge is to find the right solution for our companies. Some advice: Do your homework. Lay out each application you wish to implement. What are the results you wish to see? Where does the source data originate? How do you intend to process the raw data for the intended result? What do you want the report formats to look like?

All of us in the service trades want the same basic reporting processes: sales management, estimating, proposals, job tracking, invoicing, general ledger (with subsidiary journals), profit center reporting, fixed asset management, budgeting, etc. The problem is we’re all different. Yep, we all do things differently. So when we install a package program we have to understand the way the program does things may not be the way we do things. And unless we’re willing to adapt to someone else’s processes, we are likely to have a bad software experience.

A quick laundry list: Do your homework, lay out your systems on paper, approach multiple software providers capable of fulfilling your needs, make sure you express your needs specifically, ask for references, go see those references to make sure the processes you want are up and running, make sure the system is documented and has continuity, investigate the support network both by the software company and through peer groups, plan enough time for the conversion and don’t be cheap. Things, particularly in the software world, really worth your attention are seldom gotten on the cheap.”

Jeffrey Scott

Jeffrey Scott Inc!, Trumbull, Conn.

“Look for solutions that offer mobile apps. Review a few different types before deciding, because you will have to adapt the way you do business when you transition. Make sure you have someone internally who will become an expert on the software. But overall, do it!”

Jody Shilan

FromDesign2Build.com, Upper Saddle River, N.J.

“Find something that fits the way you currently work—not the other way around.  If you have to change your processes to accommodate the software, then it probably isn’t a good fit. Let the people who are going to use the software test it out and give their opinion on it.  Nobody likes change, but given the opportunity they would like to participate in that change. Make sure it will save you time, make you money and help you grow otherwise stick with what works until the right product comes along.”

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Bethany Chambers

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