How To Buy Landscape Business Management Software

This is the first, in a five post series written to help landscape contractors buy landscape business management software.

My Experience Buying and Selling Software For Landscape Business Management

When I was a consultant, I recommended business management software to my clients. Now that I own a landscape software company, I sell it. Knowing what I now know as a software business owner and as a consultant puts me in a unique position to help others make better choices when purchasing software for their commercial landscape companies.

The Cost Of Making A Wrong Decision Is Very High

If you’re looking to buy software to manage your landscape business, it’s essential to do the right kind of due diligence before selecting a system.  Why? Because the cost of making a wrong decision is so high.  That cost comes in the form of time, money and disruption in all areas of your business.  So it’s important to reduce your risk by educating yourself to make a smart, informed decision.

This remainder of this post will serve as a general overview of the four categories of question that should inform your software due diligence process. Subsequent posts will address each category in detail.   Here we go:

First: How much does it cost?

The cost of purchasing software for landscape business management is not just the price tag. You must consider costs like:

  1. Support
  2. Upgrades
  3. Hardware
  4. Back-ups and server space
  5. IT consultants… not to mention the cost of downtime during deployment (software set-up and training).

It’s as easy to pay too little as it is to pay too much.

Here’s something you should know about the software business:  It’s relatively inexpensive to write the software. It’s very expensive to train, upgrade, and keep it working.

Buying QuestionSecond: How is the landscape software deployed?

Installing a new system takes time. The experience will produce frustration… and the new system will never function exactly like your old one.

The key to selecting the right software is to know the extent to which the software company will be involved in setting you up properly.

You should clearly understand the software vendor’s “deployment process”… how long it will take, and how much they do for you for the price quoted.

Third: How is the landscaping software supported?

Every software company makes choices in product design that affect the way you do.  I’ve included four below and linked them to how my company handles them for reference:

  1. Reporting
  2. Estimating
  3. Purchasing
  4. Scheduling, etc.

Some of these design choices may be in conflict with your current practices. This means you will need to learn not only the software but new landscape management business processes.

How will the software company “be there” to answer questions… what is the promised level of on-going support including response time and extra fees?

Fourth: Is the product built for the long-term?

Cloud software as service (SaaS) is the future. This means your data will be managed off-site (great cost saving), and that the software should provide full integration (significant productivity gains).

Before you buy you need to know:

  1. Is the product scalable (can it grow with you without you spending more money).
  2. Does the software company have the financial strength to re-invest as technology advances.
  3. Does the company have a “product road-map” outlining future features and functions.

You do not want to be “stuck” with an old system in a few short years.

Software Purchase PlanningThe Devil Is In The Details

The next four posts in this blog will address each of the above areas of the purchase process in greater detail.

My objective is to provide you with a road map allowing you to compare landscape business management software systems side-by-side and make the best decision you can. Again, the cost of making the wrong software decision is simply too high in terms of money, customer satisfaction, and employee morale.

It’s my hope to provide you with additional information and insights to help you make the best choice for your company.