Business management software

With all of the decisions and choices you have to make with your grounds care business, one of the last things you want to worry about is if you have the right computer software. Whether you are shopping around for the first time or looking for an upgrade, there are certain key factors and questions that you need to keep in mind to make the most of your business software. Is the software easy to install and run? Is the package flexible with my business needs? Is my current software really outdated? What is the future of grounds care software? Answering all of these questions and more can help you determine which business software package is the right one for your business.

Make it simple

One of the first things to look for in determining which grounds management software is best is to make sure that it is relatively easy to install and use daily. By searching for the program that is going to be the most convenient for you and your business, time will be saved in the long run and your business will see the benefits.

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Something that is necessary to know about a prospective software program is how much time it is going to take away from your actual work. Knowing approximately how much time it takes to set up and which types of information you will need to enter once the program is up and running will be helpful.

Another consideration is whether you can install the program yourself or if you need to hire a consultant to do it for you. Many software packages come with virtually automatic installation. If you don't feel adept at tasks such as installing software, this is a feature you'll want to pay extra attention to (or at least be sure you know someone who is “computer literate” and can do it for you).

In determining how much time a business software program is going to take away from your business, you also need to look at the time spent away from your daily routines. If you are going to be the one running the program, entering the data, and printing out the reports, you want to make sure that you are going to have enough time to spend both at the computer and in the field. One thing you don't want is to spend more time on the computer than actually out on the job.

Look for a software program that is also going to be easy to use with all of your daily transactions. The program should be flexible and allow you to enter information about customers, suppliers and equipment. Screens that are clear and easy to understand are available with the majority of business software out there. In fact, most business software providers show prospective customers a preview on their websites featuring the software. You can view what the screens might look like for your business and how easy they are to operate with multiple customers, jobs and equipment entries.

Necessary features

Besides making sure that your business management software is going to be easy for you and your company to use, you need to know what features your business requires the most. Each software company featured in the graphs above and on page Contractor 28 offers a different suite of programs to fit the different types of operations. Some include accounting and reporting programs to aid in the financial side of a business while some just focus on inventory and equipment. A number of grounds-care software programs include all of those features in one package. By searching each company's website, you can determine which package best fits your company's needs. Only you can determine which features are necessary, but it is important to map out those needs before you shop for the software.

No matter what features your grounds care business requires, it takes four key factors to run your business that should always be at the top of your list.

  • People

    The first factor, people, is split into two separate entities but they both require a great deal of maintenance and attention. The business software that you purchase needs to be able to handle both your customers and your employees. Some questions to ask are whether or not the program includes a customer database feature for easy access to customers, or something along the lines of personnel or labor records for employees. By managing the details of the people in your business, both customers and employees, you can keep track of areas your business could improve on.

  • Equipment

    If equipment is an important factor to you, which, of course it is, you need a software program that can keep track of each piece of equipment. Does the software allow you to monitor information pertaining to what equipment is being used at a certain time; which pieces require maintenance and when that repair work is performed; and if the equipment is being used effectively in reference to cost issues? The maintenance of your equipment is important to how you run your business and you need a software program that will help you manage all issues dealing with each piece of equipment.

  • Supplies

    In dealing with this factor of your business, you need to look for a management software program that will help you control the different products you use out in the field. By being able to maintain knowledge of how and when products such as chemicals and fertilizers are being used in your computer program, you can easily keep track of when you need to purchase more of the product and also how quickly you go through that product.

  • Money

    This is why you're in business, right? Almost any generic business software will perform basic accounting functions, so you should insist on this in any software tailored for the green industry as well. The complexity you need will depend on the size and scope of your business. You might even consult with your accountant to see what features would ease tax preparations and other accounting necessities.

Instead of keeping manual records of each of these transactions, business management software allows you to enter the information in a short amount of time and have the records available to print out in any form necessary. By working with a business software program that allows you to run different applications to maintain the most important aspects of your business, you will be able to manage those aspects with confidence and effortlessness.

Other features that you need to consider relate to the company that you are purchasing the software from. Some things to investigate are the reputation of the software company, whether they are planning to upgrade their program in the future, and if they are going to be available should any problems come up. Working with a company that understands the needs of the green industry and has some experience with it, can bring added benefits to your business. With technology expanding at a quickening pace, you have to anticipate that the software you purchase now will need to be updated within the next couple of years. Computers are being designed to hold more and more memory and work at a faster pace and because of this, they require software that can keep up. Therefore, you also want to choose a business software company that is going to be around to release these new updates and to help you with any current problems or questions you have pertaining to your software.

If you are trying to decide if your software needs an update right now, consider the following questions. Does the software still provide you with information you need? Is the package flexible? Does it match the way you do business? Do you feel that the applications are up to date? If you answer no to any of these questions, you might consider updated your software. It is not difficult to upgrade by adding certain features or improving the ones you already have.

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