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12 Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Seed-to-Sale Software Vendor

By Ample Organics

October 13, 2020

Like any major software purchase, evaluating seed-to-sale software vendors for a cannabis facility can be complicated. While you need a tool that solves your unique problems, you’re also going to be choosing which company you trust the most with critical business data. Balancing these two tasks is where it can turn from complicated to confusing, as no seed-to-sale provider is perfect for every cannabis facility. Some providers may claim to have flashy features and integrations, but lack the proven experience of operating in a highly regulated market. Other vendors may check all the boxes, but it can be difficult to tell if you’re overpaying for features you may not need. 

To help you get started, we compiled the 12 questions to ask seed-to-sale vendors when considering a purchase. The answers to these questions will help uncover more about each vendor than their website, marketing materials, and demos could ever show. 

12 questions to ask seed-to-sale software providers

Questions about seed-to-sale platforms 

Is the platform easy to learn and use?

Not only will many different employees use seed-to-sale software, you’ll definitely have some power users in the tool on a daily basis. With that in mind, you will want the platform you select to be easy to learn and use. This will result in less training time required, less time dealing with support calls and tickets, and overall more productive and happy employees. 

Does the software meet your business’ compliance and regulation requirements?

Some providers’ software is only designed for specific states or country regulations. It’s important to make sure that the provider is not only compliant in your current operating territory, but also in the territories in which you want to expand. This will save thousands of dollars in switching costs later on if your provider prevents you from entering new markets. 

Does the software generate compliance reports?               

All seed-to-sale providers facilitate the tracking of a plant’s movement within a cannabis facility, but not all automatically generate compliance reports. This leaves too much room for human error, which can ultimately result in a license suspension or termination. Choose a provider that automatically generates compliance reports based on your tracking data and you will significantly reduce the likelihood of human error affecting your reports. 

Does the software easily integrate with tracking hardware?

Imagine signing a software contract for a great price, only to find out it can’t integrate with your printers, scales or scanners. It’s basically a glorified version of excel at that point, as you would have to push laptops around your facility on a cart, while manually inputting data. If you want to avoid this, make sure the vendor can integrate with the proper tracking hardware. 

To learn more about hardware integrations, read How to Optimize Seed-to-Sale Implementation for Your Cannabis Facility [link to floorplan blog] 

Can the software scale with your company as you grow?

When regulations change, and new revenue opportunities are created, will your seed-to-sale provider be ready? You want your business to grow, and your provider should too. That’s why it’s important to ask if your provider updates their software according to regulatory changes and can scale with you as you grow. 

Questions about seed-to-sale companies

Does the company have high quality customer service?

No matter which vendor you select, your team will have questions, encounter challenges, and need some help along the way to get the most out of the seed-to-sale platform. Waiting for tickets to be solved, or waiting for the support team to call you back can greatly slow down your operation. This is why a strong customer support team is one of the most important factors to consider when evaluating providers. To find vendors support and customer service reputations, you can look at software review sites, ask vendors during demos what their support offerings are, or ask peers within the cannabis industry what their experience has been like. 

What is the company’s reputation for security?

Beyond typical data security, any company dealing with medical cannabis patient information must take the furthest possible security measures. Ignoring data security could result in massive losses in trust from competitors or legal action from customers and government bodies. If there has been a data-breach in the past, look into how the company handled it. Did they act fast and compensate customers, or were they left to deal with the damages on their own? This is why you will want to research each vendor’s security history, and specifically ask how they will protect your data. 

Does the provider offer an eCommerce service?

If you plan on selling to medical cannabis patients (in Canada specifically, as other countries have different systems), you will need an eCommerce website that is integrated with your patient database. This is to ensure patients don’t order above their monthly prescriptions and to stay on top of reporting requirements. There are additional complexities introduced at this stage, such as shipping, fulfilment and payment processing. This means that you have to set up each of these functions individually or use an eCommerce store builder that can integrate with seed-to-sale software. To simplify this integration, certain seed-to-sale providers offer  eCommerce features as a part of their offering. 

Does the company support you through onboarding?

Hardware calibrations, user-permission setup, and training for specific roles are just a few of the activities you need to complete during seed-to-sale implementation. Having a designated account manager visit your facility will make implementation run much more smoothly, and will empower your employees to use the software quickly. 

Does the company provide consistent system upgrades and build additional features?

Listening to customers and acting on their insights should always be a top priority for software providers. An easy way to find out if your provider does this is by asking to see version release notes, and software update history. There’s also a major difference in fixing bugs vs. improving the user experience of the software by building new features and simplifying routine tasks. You can uncover this by asking the provider to give examples of major upgrades they have made over the past couple of years. Are they making major improvements and benefiting their customers, or just addressing symptoms of problems with fake fixes?

Is the provider reputable within the cannabis industry?

While there are more and more seed-to-sale vendors entering the market each year, it can be hard to distinguish the difference between them based on websites and demos alone. Sometimes social proof is the best proof. Look at the customer logos and testimonials from each provider to help form your opinions on their reputations. Better yet, ask industry peers what their experience has been like with their seed-to-sale vendor. There is certainly value in knowing that others are succeeding and enjoying their experience with a seed-to-sale vendor you are considering using. 

Who can you ask for help?

Ample Organics builds technology that helps companies compete in the highly regulated cannabis industry. Our seed-to-sale software has been powering cannabis facilities like Aurora, Aphria, and Organigram for more than five years, and we now service over 100 standard cannabis licence holder sites within Canada. 

We’re known for our experienced team of cannabis experts, data security, and white glove customer support. We also work with licence holder applicants by providing support documentation that can be used in your Health Canada application. 

If you’re ready to learn more about seed-to-sale software and how we help power cannabis companies just like yours, book a demo in the box below.