When a cemetery decides to digitize their records, they sometimes explore having a software developer or their own IT department design a custom cemetery management program. For many years this was their only option if they wanted to move away from paper records. Today, quality off-the-shelf software solutions exist that can be configured to a cemetery’s needs and offer all the necessary features to streamline and modernize cemetery management at a fraction of the cost and hassle. Before you commit to custom software, we recommend you consider the following factors to determine if it’s the best fit for your organization.
Customization and Control
Custom software can be tailored to your cemetery’s exact wants and needs, and that level of control is often very appealing. Cemeteries operate differently than other businesses. Most people seeking cemetery software solutions want to make sure that uniqueness is reflected in their final program. Many cemeteries have unique aspects to their internal process, terminology, or record keeping methods. While these distinctions are real and often important, it is possible in many cases to account for these differences in the configurations and settings of a well built off-the-shelf cemetery management platform. A well built system will account for the core essentials of a cemetery operation, such as selling interment rights (or deeds), keeping track of the individuals laid to rest there, maintaining the cemetery in perpetuity, etc, while also allowing configuration of how some of this is done.
Off-the-shelf software offers the features cemeteries need most. They can organize your people, processes, and data, and provide tracking and reporting of everything from the initial inquiry for a plot, the sales process, all documentation, staff instructions to prepare the grave, and the interment. The best solutions can electronically manage inventory, reserve property, generate contracts, process payments, and manage work orders. Many systems are flexible and can be configured to your cemetery so you can choose to use whichever features align with your process. Although you do give up control over function and design, you receive all the tools you need without having to contribute to the development.
You know a lot about your cemetery and how it operates. But it’s not always easy to convey that information to an outsider. If you hire an external company to develop your software, it’s unlikely that they have prior experience with the cemetery profession. Translating your business needs and requirements into software is a challenging task. You may not realize that they’ve left any gaps until you start using the product. This could lead to a lot of time and money spent in a discovery process that results in software that doesn’t do everything you need.
When building a custom system, you’re also limited to your staff’s knowledge and ideas. When you choose the right off-the-shelf cemetery software, you benefit from the experience of a software company that specializes in the intricacies of the profession. You also benefit from the experience of other cemeteries, as most companies take suggestions from their customers and continually roll out additional tools and features. There’s often no need to start from scratch when an appropriate solution has already been developed, tested, improved upon, and put into use.
Updates and Upgrades
Even the best custom software will need to be updated regularly to keep up with changes in technology, and as you use it you’ll likely come up with ideas for improvements or additional features. Maintaining and upgrading your own software essentially requires you to run an internal software company, staffed with your own engineers or outsourced to a third party development group. This new internal business will have all of the same demands on time, focus, and resources as your main cemetery operation. Long term support for an in-house software program requires constant investment and coding, as technology as well as user demands are always evolving.
An off-the-shelf solution allows you to outsource the responsibility of keeping up with cemetery trends and technological advancements. The best solutions are always adding new features and tools and taking care of updates and upgrades so that you don’t have to. This includes making sure the software is updated whenever new legislation is passed so your records stay compliant with laws. Customer support and training resources are typically available as well.
Today, quality off-the-shelf software solutions exist that can be configured to a cemetery’s needs and offer all the necessary features to streamline and modernize cemetery management at a fraction of the cost and hassle.
Up Front and Long Term Costs
Some cemeteries shy away from off-the-shelf software because it seems too expensive and they don’t want to be locked into monthly or annual subscription costs. But custom software typically carries a very high initial price tag, and is often underquoted. We’ve never seen a custom software project finish on time and on budget. You may think you can avoid software costs altogether by having your own staff develop a program for you. But using internal staff doesn’t eliminate the costs, it just hides them. More than that, it distracts organizational focus from family service to software development and support. Long term costs for support, upgrades, and updates are often overlooked when developing the project budget.
The right off-the-shelf solution is less expensive than custom software, and it doesn’t require you to contribute time or money to its development. You can set an affordable budget and stick to it, without long term surprises.
webCemeteries Offers Powerful Off-the-Shelf Solutions
Custom software gives you unlimited control and customization. But it can also be expensive, time consuming to develop, and difficult to keep up to date. But there’s a simpler solution! Hundreds of cemeteries across the United States and Canada have already trusted webCemeteries to provide their off-the-shelf cemetery management software. We can help you digitize your records and even create a website if you don’t have one already. We also offer Public Tools to improve the experience of your families, such as a web-based burial record search, digital cemetery maps, and online memorials.
We listen to our customers and work hard to continually develop additional features that allow them to efficiently serve the families in their care. As cemetery experts, we attend cemetery conferences, monitor industry trends and best practices, and retain membership in several cemetery associations to ensure our software continues to provide our customers with the capabilities they need. We regularly expand our infrastructure and back up your data, and our US-based support staff is available to quickly respond to your needs.
With our extensive industry knowledge, decades of cemetery software experience, and dedicated team of cemetery professionals, webCemeteries is here to provide a powerful software solution for your cemetery that is ready as soon as you are. Request a meeting today to discover how we can help you use technology to provide higher-quality service to the families in your care.