Is Cannabis Software a necessity in today’s industry and what exactly does the software do?
To help our fellow cannabis industry professionals navigate through the sometimes murky world of internet search results, we did a bit of research to discover what questions most industry pros, people just like you, had at the top of their minds when searching for information on cannabis software.
Whether a serious startup grower is looking for cannabis manufacturing software to maximize yields, or a seasoned business veteran in the legal weed game is looking for accounting software that won’t pull the rug out from under them, everyone knows by now that software solutions for the cannabis industry are here, and they’re fast becoming a necessity to maintain your place in a market so rapidly-expanding and full of noise.
Most licensed cannabis businesses who are integrating cannabis software like GrowerIQ into their operations are doing so to remain competitive because it’s an incredibly powerful tool when you find the right fit for your business.
Between cannabis manufacturing efficiency, process automation, inventory control, and centralizing data, a licensed grower or cannabis entrepreneur is fully enabled to hit maximum levels of yield, potency, and profit potential.
Hopefully, the information we’ve gathered for you here helps shed light on some of your biggest cannabis software questions, so you feel fully ready to decide to upgrade your operation!
1. What is a Cannabis ERP? Do I Need One for My Business?
An ERP (or “Enterprise Resource Planning”) is a type of holistic business management software widely adopted by business owners and management teams everywhere – a Cannabis ERP being one specifically tailored to the Cannabis Industry.
While taking virtually every element of your cannabis business “online” may be a very personal decision to make, the more your business grows, the more people will need to be managing the expanding and branching elements of your business. The more people you have on hand, the more variables you’re left to manage, and the risk of mistakes and oversights increases.
Depending on what stage of business you’re at, it may very well be time to consider introducing ERP software into your operation. Cannabis ERP software gives you the ability to monitor the operations of your cannabis business from front to back, start to finish. Depending on your current system and the software you choose, you can monitor and control all of the automated elements of your grow facility, keep fully up-to-date on regulations to ensure across-the-board legal compliance, and track all of your product testing data. You can also manage your accounting, sales, and ordering, and take full control of inventory management precision.
Having all of these functions in one place can mean an awful lot to the bottom line of a growing business. Process efficiencies, intelligent workflows, and fully-trackable, automated production controls mean that you’ll be able to improve the quality and ensure consistency of your products while producing them via the most cost- and labor-efficient means. Operational costs decrease, while revenues (and the understanding of your business’s finances) increase.
2. What does “Seed-to-Sale” Mean?
Typically a term used for tracking software, the name literally describes the meaning. “Seed-to-sale” is used to describe the timeline along which cannabis seed is initially planted, through the eventual packaging and retail sale of the final product to the end user. Licensed cannabis producers use seed-to-sale software to track every element of the cannabis production and sale timeline, on a plant-by-plant basis, providing loads of useful data, and the sort of transparency and traceability that makes regulators quite happy.
Having a cannabis production tracking system in place is a legal requirement to sell your products, and doing it all manually, when there’s already so much paperwork and red tape involved in the cannabis industry, is beyond difficult to sustain effectively. From planting a seed to harvesting, from lab testing to transport, and from packaging to retail, good seed-to-sale software will mitigate immeasurable quantities of your stress, especially where legal compliance is involved.
Not only will you more easily remain compliant, but you’ll also be able to isolate where any issues took place in a plant or crop’s life cycle if any quality or health concerns arise at any point. Batch numbering, an essential part of proper tracking, will also help quickly locate and pull any bunk product from retail shelves and transport vehicles, preventing any loss of credibility or safety concerns. From there, waste disposal can also be logged and monitored.
Because of the legal tracking requirements for your licensed cannabis operation, seed-to-sale software may as well also be somewhat seen as a requirement. It truly is the best possible method of remaining compliant and will save you tons of time and stress. Beyond the compliance functions, professionals at the highest levels of the cannabis industry are using their seed-to-sale platform to its maximum functionality, tracking a broad range of granular metrics for the sake of maximizing their business’s potential.
You can read a more heavily-detailed explanation of seed-to-sale tracking in our article here, but hopefully, the information you’ve just read is enough to answer most of your questions.
3. Is Cannabis Software “Worth It”?
One-hundred per cent, absolutely, without question – yes. Cannabis manufacturing software is worth the expense. Implementing the right software for your cannabis cultivation and manufacturing operation can rapidly make a significant positive impact on your yield capacity, the quality of your products, and the earnings potential of your licensed cannabis business. While available commonly as a standalone technology, the earliest stage of any high-quality seed-to-sale platform is detailed and AI-driven cultivation software. Other than anything compliance-related, it may be the most important non-living component of your entire operation.
From the moment a seed is placed in grow medium, to the exact second the buds are perfectly cured and ready to trim, high-quality cultivation software ties in every element of your large-scale licensed grow. All of your environmental sensors, pH/nutrient/moisture monitors, and light controllers can be monitored, tracked, and operated in one interface. Not only does this save you time and keep your operation more organized and legally compliant, it naturally saves you money by reducing your labor costs, risk of citations or fines, and reduction of lost crops. (Check out this article to read about the cutting-edge sensor tech we had developed for monitoring cannabis plant health!)
In a well-run operation, implementing high-quality cannabis manufacturing software can act like the spaceship that your business sails into the cosmos when used to its potential. The AI integrations and automation tools can help dial in your process with needlepoint precision, helping you find your most ideal balance of cost, time, and product results.
If you choose to focus on maxing out the yield your licensed grow facility can handle, you’re shooting for the optimal cannabinoid content of multiple varietals, or you want to develop a strain with the most objectively-delicious terpene profile that has ever been experienced by a cannasseur, you can do so. More importantly, you’ll be able to guarantee consistent quality, which increases credibility with your customers, and elsewhere within the cannabis industry. In any industry, credibility is worth triple its weight in gold.
4. Can I Lab Test My Own Cannabis Products?
While the expense of setting up a proper cannabis testing lab may be too unappealing for many licensed cultivation operations, if it’s within your budget, yes, you can test your own cannabis and cannabis products yourself, just as long as you have a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), or something similar, in place. The primary purpose of the LIMS is to ensure transparency, traceability, and quality management from start to finish throughout the testing process, as well as maintain a trackable chain of command.
If you dig hard enough, you can typically find plenty of used labware and analytical equipment online. For a thorough analysis, you’ll need equipment capable of detecting the levels of cannabinoids, mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, and solvents. You may also want to test for terpenoid compounds as part of your analytical regiment. To do this all properly, you’ll need a range of sophisticated equipment in place. At a minimum, you’ll need some sort of liquid or gas chromatography system (maybe both), which uses liquid solutions or vaporization gasses to separate the chemical makeup of what’s being tested into layers which the equipment can then interpret.
Another common piece of equipment in a cannabis testing lab is a mass spectrometer, which functions similarly to the chromatography systems, but uses the ratio of the material’s ionic charge against its mass to determine the accurate volumes of chemicals in the tested product. You’ll have to determine your top testing priorities, as well as make sure you’re satisfying regulatory testing requirements before you decide what sort of lab equipment to purchase. There are many specific types of testing equipment, each with its own benefits and limitations, so make sure you’re selecting the appropriate system.
To certify the results of your analysis legally, you’ll have to have a tracking and quality management system in place for the lab results themselves. Because of the automation and transparency, most third-party and internal cannabis testing labs employ LIMS software to monitor processes, maintain historical data, generate a legally-acceptable Certificate of Analysis, and continue building credibility for their business and brand. The streamlined manner in which quality LIMS software manages information and processes makes it very possible to bring this sort of testing, product certification, and quality control in-house. Especially if you don’t mind used lab equipment!
5. Can I Use “Normie” Accounting Software for Cannabis Sales?
While a few of the major providers of accounting software have recently softened their stance on serving those in the world of legal cannabis cultivation and retail, they may not always be the best suited for dealing with all the nuanced details of operating a business within the legal cannabis industry. Luckily, an entire industry has emerged around the financial and transactional end of the legal cannabis trade, so not only can you employ a bookkeeper who exclusively serves marijuana cultivars and retailers, but easy-to-use, purpose-built accounting software has been crafted for the cannabis industry, as well.
Depending on what you select, good seed-to-sale software will also include a proper accounting component, which saves you the time and expense of shopping for a standalone accounting product or vetting a human bookkeeper. Instead, you can keep your books in the same system where every other bit of your historical data lives. That data coagulation can make you nearly infallible when regulators come knocking, and can be monumentally useful in long-term data tracking/sales forecasting.
6. Which Cannabis Manufacturing Software Should I Use?
Like the people behind them, every business in this industry is unique, and has a unique, though overlapping, set of needs. To choose the right cannabis software for you, you’ll need to take the time to look into your options, see what sets them apart, and then find among them what fits your needs most completely. Depending on the size and scope of your business, you may need some simple tracking or accounting software, while everything else is managed manually. If your business has grown, is growing, or you intend for it to grow, managing any of the tracking elements of your business might prove to be difficult to keep up with eventually.
If you’re a large-scale licensed grower, and especially if you’re producing your own cannabinoid concentrates, you need to consider implementing a seed-to-sale ERP platform over multiple pieces of technology with multiple interfaces to learn and control. Monitoring and tracking everything well enough to be able to certify your products are high-quality and unadulterated is really important for your brand to establish trust, which we’ve mentioned repeatedly throughout this article. Beyond that, it’s truly game-changing to have a top-down vantage point over every element of your business for the first time, and even more so to be able to plan and strategize for the future in the same place, from a thoroughly informed perspective.
As you can probably tell by now, using these systems allows you to operate more fully to the limits of your potential as an entrepreneur in this industry. While you’ve got some noteworthy software options available to you in the marketplace, GrowerIQ is the most intuitive ERP system available for licensed cannabis producers. Machine learning and AI allow the GrowerIQ system to help anticipate your needs and facilitate the growth of your business, all while keeping you legally compliant and maximizing efficiency.
But whichever direction you head, whether with our system or with that of a different developer, at some point, you should strongly consider implementing a piece (or pieces) of cannabis software to make your life easier. Take your time, look at all your options, and ask plenty of questions before you make your final decision. Whenever you need us, we’ll be right here, willing to help out however we can!
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GrowerIQ leverages proprietary machine learning algorithms to improve facility automation and provide producers with insights to improve quality and consistency. GrowerIQ is changing the way producers use software - transforming a regulatory requirement into a robust platform to learn, analyze, and improve performance.
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