Business Management Software Questions

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A landscaper from Connecticut called me the other day to talk about various business management software options he was considering for his growing company. During the conversation, we discussed multiple points of concern, for his staff, his company, and for the future. After a lengthy dialogue, I suggested he schedule a series of demonstrations with his top five alternatives to gain first-hand exposure to the software, the vendor, and his comfort level with each.

In preparation for those meetings, I offered the following list of questions to be asked of each vendor.

  1. Given the much-discussed steep learning curve, how much on-site support will your company provide to us as we make this lengthy transition? Will there be an added cost for such support?
  2. When creating a customer contact, does the software pull various types of information that will show up on other documents? Or will I have to do repetitive data entry?
  3. I keep seeing reviews and hearing from other landscapers that your software has a consistently low rating for ease of use. What happens if this software is unmanageable for my workforce due to inherent technological difficulty?
  4. Is there perfect integration between your software, and QuickBooks, Outlook, GPS, iCal, Google Calendar to keep everything in sync?
  5. Does this software package allow us to send personalized communications, updates, and reminders via text and email?
  6. Does this software allow staff to sync their calendars with the software so we can see their availability on the fly, and allow us to track details associated with each project (i.e. its location), and get GPS directions to the employees’ next job site?
  7. Does this software send landscape estimates quickly and let us know when they’ve been received and read by the clients?
  8. Does this software let clients approve estimates electronically and communicate back and forth, so we can get to work faster?
  9. Does this software help clients pay online, while booking, upon invoicing, or on the spot via a mobile device?
  10. Does the software provide scheduling, inventory, dispatching, equipment preventative maintenance schedules, invoicing, estimates, online payments, service phone system, auto-notifications, and related functions?
  11. Does this software provide basic operations calculations (e.g., gross margin, hourly average wage, revenue per employee, labor burden rate) at the job, crew, portfolio, and department levels?
  12. How will this software allow me to manage and optimize my sales pipeline?
  13. Does your software system allow me to accommodate my customers if they want something special done to their invoices?
  14. Is the follow-up technical support offered only as an online chat or will my employees actually talk to a real person?
  15. Does this software allow me to track cohort employee retention data from the beginning of the month to the end of the same month?
  16. Does this software allow me to track maintenance job retention and adjoining job revenue retention on a monthly basis by job Foreman and Manager?
  17. Does this software allow me to track repetitive customers and related job revenue from one year to the next, as well as the number of new clients entered into the system as a percentage of total jobs each month?
  18. Will this software provide me with a monthly report tracking job size, employee staffing levels, job-based gross margin, and client reviews for each job?
  19. Will this software allow me to go from QuickBooks P&L, to your software, to Excel spreadsheets, and sync back and forth in both directions, without disruption, rekeying, or inaccuracy?
  20. Does this software allow me to modify existing production rates at my discretion?

If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything else related to human resources, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.