Growers, manufacturers, and retailers in the cannabis industry are expected to comply with the industry’s regulations. To do so, they are mandated to track weed products through their respective manufacturing lifecycles and all related expenses from seed to sale. Because of the vast amounts of data generated, a digital record-keeping system is best suited to handle the process. And this is where seed-to-sale management software system comes in.
Picking a seed-to-sale software is a crucial decision for any cannabusiness. This is because it takes a lot of resources to employ and run new software regularly. Also, once your staff is trained on operating one system, it’s difficult for everybody to change effortlessly. So, you need to get the right seed-to-sale system from the start.
You might be new to the weed industry, or you’ve realized that your existing technology is hampering your operations. Regardless of your situation, this seed-to-sale software buyer’s guide seeks to lead you in the right direction. Read on for further insight.
What Is Seed-to-Sale Software?
Seed-to-sale software can generate digital records of every marijuana plant in a given region, beginning from seed and tracking each plant through harvest, manufacturing, processing, and eventually sale.
According to cannabis regulations, this sort of tracking is mandatory in almost all regions where marijuana has been legalized for recreational or medicinal purposes. Some jurisdictions even stipulate this kind of tracking for hemp-derived products.
From basic compliance monitoring and dispensary point-of-sale functionality to forecasting analytics, seed-to-sale software enables you to operate every aspect of your licensed weed dispensary by the book.
A Checklist of Considerations
Before you start looking for seed-to-sale software, you need to brainstorm a little on what would make the best software for your company.
Understand Your Needs
Depending on your jurisdiction, you need to know what regulations you’re expected to adhere to as far as your cannabis dispensary is concerned. Also, you must think about the measures you need to adopt to stay in compliance with the given regulations. Here are some of the questions you should mull over:
- What records do the cannabis authorities require you to keep?
- How should those records be kept?
Devise an Implementation Strategy
Visualize your cannabusiness and note every facet that requires the use of seed-to-sale software to satisfy compliance regulations. Here are areas of your cannabusiness where you may need to implement the software:
- Logging genetic materials into the system
- Creating plant identifications and batch numbers
- Tracking harvest weights
- Tracking product sales and customers
Think About Your Specific System Needs
Cannabis cultivators use varied cultivation techniques and growing environments. So, each business may have somewhat varying needs. Based on your needs, staff, and locality, you can choose software that caters more purposely to your niche.
Think about what a seed-to-sale software that’s able to integrate fully with your cannabusiness would look like. Think about the gaps that the specific software may leave and the steps you’d have to take to plug those gaps.
Take Your Time
Don’t rush into making a purchasing decision. Check out the variety of seed-to-sale software. Make sure the software you pick can capture all the nuances of your day-to-day practices in your cannabis business.
Read Testimonials and Reviews
You want to check out the experiences of other users with a particular seed-to-sale software before committing to it. Reputable vendors often share their Google reviews and testimonials. You can contact previous users and inquire if they’re satisfied with their own picking, where the platform falls short, and what features have been the most beneficial.
Weigh the Price
Of course, you want to get a good deal. But if the price is too low compared to that of other software providers, then that could be a red flag. Chances are you may end up facing compliance and security challenges due to a shared hosting platform, so look for software that’s affordable but not suspiciously so.
Think About Long-term Benefits and Difficulties
Conduct a thorough analysis of seed-to-sale software platforms. Ascertain there are no hidden fees and that they perform routine software and hardware maintenance. Also, make sure the system can sustain business development and alterations in cannabis regulations.
Important Questions to Ask your Potential Seed-to-sale Software Vendor
There are so many software vendors out there that it can be difficult to settle on one. Here are the several questions that will help you narrow it down to the most appropriate software:
Which Compliance Standard Does the Software Adhere to?
The main objective of seed-to-sale software is to allow cannabis business owners to adhere to the regulations set by cannabis regulating authorities. This means the software must be vertically integrated and provide traceable documentation across the entire supply chain.
Compliance standards differ from one region to another. Check out the standard for your jurisdiction. Then, inquire from the vendor whether its platform provides that specific compliance certification according to your region.
Have You Passed a Regulatory Audit Before?
Has the seed-to-sale software vendor passed a regulatory audit by your local jurisdiction? A software provider who has passed regulatory audits usually boasts a proven track record of promoting compliant marijuana cultivation. Moreover, its staff is experienced with assisting growers in getting their licenses.
These vendors know what cannabis regulators are searching for and can help you steer clear of common errors and pitfalls. Thus, they transfer their vast expertise and experience into their seed-to-sale software. Ultimately, they can guarantee that their software will effectively help you with compliance.
Do You Provide Independent or Shared Server Hosting?
Cheap single-user subscription fees are a warning sign that you’re being taken for a ride. It’s unfeasible to provide unique, standalone cloud infrastructure at an economical price. Cheap platforms may later bring you challenges related to compliance and security.
Ideally, opt for a provider who provides independent hosting for every part of your seed-to-sale software infrastructure. Sharing cloud infrastructure violates quality standards. This is because one of the key stipulations for cannabis compliance requires that the plants and personnel caring for them are individually identified in the database and that the system generates incorruptible and secure records.
Thus, the software should be secure, and the generated records kept on a certified platform that is incorruptible. Each user also needs to have their account so that actions can be traced back to the individual who completed them.
Does the Platform Provide All Users With Unique Access, or Do They Charge by the User?
Good seed-to-sale software provides every user with an account, and thus unique access. However, if it proposes a number of users-based model, this is a tell-tale sign they lack the necessary experience to keep cannabis businesses compliant. Plus, this model leads to an awkward economic situation that punishes your business for its growth and compromises accurate documentation.
While it may seem tempting, never share user accounts on your platform. Not only is this a significant regulatory infringement, but it also risks the revocation of your cultivation license.
What Industry Experience Do You Have?
As a new industry, cannabusiness is riddled with questions and hesitancy. This is why experience counts a lot. You want to pick a traceability partner with tech expertise and industry experience. To help you determine if the provider knows what they’re saying, consider asking them if they have anybody in their staff with actual marijuana experience. If their team is made up of just technologists, then that’s a red flag.
An experienced provider may have an in-house team comprising of:
- Master growers
- Quality assurance experts
- Regulatory professionals
Thus, you don’t have to wade through confusing regulatory guidelines or spend lots of time modifying your SOP documentation. Instead, you can pass it on to the same team that handles compliance technology.
Does the Platform Provide Digital Records of Compliance or Sheets of Paper?
The documentation captured by your seed-to-sale software is evidence that you’re abiding by regulations. Everything from your plant barcodes, batch numbers, and weights to plant destruction needs to be reported to industry regulators.
A good platform eliminates the need for paper records and the associated human errors. Instead, it provides meticulous digital records for legal storage.
Does the Platform Come With a Quality Management System (QMS)?
A QMS is a process that guides how cultivators will conform to regulations. If the software is not aligned with your quality plan, you may be left with a disjointed operation that requires you to store piles of paper to plug in the gaps.
The right platform works in conjunction with your quality management system. If you experience an anomaly, all the painstaking tracking will enable you to resolve the problem and log a report directly in the seed-to-sale software. You’ll be able to identify the problem, the person involved, and the affected cannabis plants. From there, you can devise an accompanying corrective and preventive action plan directly on the platform.
Is Your Seed-to-sale Software Designed for Cannabis?
The explosive growth witnessed in the cannabis marketplace has led to various extant software technologies rebranding to enter the marijuana space. Some were initially designed as water delivery tech, environment sensing, or warehouse tracking. However, tracking software that’s working well in another industry does not mean it’s appropriate for cannabis.
The ideal platform must be built with cannabis in mind, and this can be seen from its features and capabilities that are insightful and representative of the actual world.
Does the Software Enable Tracking of Marijuana-specific Metrics?
A suitable seed-to-sale software allows you to track different metrics for every batch. These include:
- Real-time and previous environmental data
- Plant care processes
- Amount of yield
- Weight of yield
- Plant locations
- The growth and processing phase
You can compare different batches to evaluate what factors may have contributed to one plant producing a more abundant harvest than others. You may also pinpoint trends that may enhance your cultivation techniques.
Does the Seed-to-sale Software Provide Operations, Accounts, and Client Service Functionality?
Rather than having to use different systems for each function, a successful traceability system allows cannabis businesses to combine account management, product sales and marketing, and customer tracking within an integrated system. When your product supply and sales system are interlinked, it gets easier to perform accurate tracking throughout the supply chain operations.
What Is the Value of the Software Compared to the Cost?
Seed-to-sale software systems come at different prices. While some may have attractive low monthly subscriptions, they may be laden with a lot of hidden costs, including:
- Huge upfront implementation costs
- Charges for extra user accounts
- Future software upgrades
Also, as we mentioned, if a traceability platform comes with low monthly costs, chances are that it’s lumped together in a shared hosting serving. Extremely low prices may also mean that the software provider is cutting corners on cannabis regulatory compliance, or they may raise rates later on once they’ve gained market share.
You may consider price an important aspect, especially if you’re concerned about your bottom line. That makes sense. But pricing should be the least of your concerns. It’s good practice to evaluate seed-to-sale software based on the value it offers to your weed business.
Compliance is an important aspect of your cannabusiness, and it’s worth paying more for a suitable traceability system. You don’t want to risk losing your cannabis license.
What If the Software Does Not Live Up to Expectations?
It’s important to have an exit strategy if for some reason the traceability software does not match its initial promise. What if the capabilities promised are not functional, or the software isn’t sending accurate reports to the regulatory authorities in real time? Make sure that the fine print allows you the flexibility to turn to another provider for any reason.
The Bottom Line
Investing in the right traceability system upon which to build your cannabusiness ensures that you stay in compliance in the long haul.
With the cannabis space flooded with myriad software vendors, you must keenly look at all your options. Do a comparison of various seed-to-sale software with your quality system to determine which one can keep all the necessary records for compliance purposes. Ideally, pick a traceability platform that can integrate 360° with your marijuana business.