How long does it take to get cemetery software up and running?
By Ken Munday
Steps and schedule to implement cemetery software to improve your cemetery management
You’ve decided you need to improve your cemetery management and are thinking about implementing a cemetery software package to help you do it. But, what are the steps involved and how long does the whole process take?
We have implemented cemetery software for hundreds of clients so we have a very good idea of the scope and process for implementation.
Step 1: Assess your cemetery software needs, wants and budget
There are a number of things to take into account when assessing your cemetery software needs. Some of these include the size of your cemetery, the number of cemeteries you operate, including active and inactive cemeteries, how many interments you typically do per year, how many people need to access the software, the functionality you need, what other software needs to interface with the cemetery software, what processes are still done manually (that could be automated by a software system), and support for your staff, etc. We recommend that you have all stakeholders involved from the beginning of the selection process, such as your finance and IT departments as well as those personnel directly involved in the day to day operations of your cemetery.
This is the single most important step of this entire process. If you do not fully understand all of your needs and wants completely, how can you choose the software that would be best suited to assist your operations?
Do not try to rush this step, take as much time as is necessary. This step should take a minimum of 1 month, and could take as long as 1 year.
Step 2: Do a preliminary check on existing software systems
There are a few reasons for evaluating existing systems before requesting quotations. First, you need to find out what options are out there and what the costs are, so that you can budget for the software. Second, by looking at a few software systems that are currently available, you may find some additional functionality that will assist your operations that you hadn’t thought of before.
This step should be fairly quick as a lot of the information required in this step can be learned simply by using the internet. Some websites will give you an idea of the pricing involved directly on their site, while a quick phone call to others will provide this information.
This step can be completed within a week.
Step 3: Select and purchase the best cemetery software solution and components for you
A detailed comparison of software vendors is key to finding the best functionality, price and support for your operations. Most software vendors offer various versions of their software, varying by size, functionality and integration. For example, at Stone Orchard Software, we offer many components, such as cemetery mapping, that can be fully integrated to meet your needs. A demonstration from the vendor, with all stakeholders present, can provide a good picture of what the software offers. This along with requesting a full proposal (based on your needs and wants), will help you to make the right decision for your cemetery.
This step usually takes between 1 month and 1 year (but can literally take years), depending on budget approval, time needed to create a Request for Proposal document, amount of time you provide the software companies to respond (from our perspective, a month would be recommended), and amount of time needed to evaluate the proposals and demonstrations.
Step 4: Implementation of your cemetery software
When implementing cemetery software, there are a few considerations. Do you have computerized data that needs to be converted? Have you ordered cemetery mapping ? If so, is your current mapping on paper, CAD or GIS? Do you require any customizations to the software?
At Stone Orchard Software, if a cemetery data conversion is required, we need to evaluate a copy of your data to determine the length of time it will take. However, cemetery data conversions rarely require more than 2 weeks to complete.
There are a generally 2 types of mapping available. At Stone Orchard, we offer both types:
- Legacy cemetery mapping – which is a graphical representation of your interment sites
- GIS cemetery mapping – which is to scale, overlays interment sites over an aerial photo of the cemetery, and is easier to be added to your website.
If legacy cemetery mapping is ordered, we estimate a day an acre to complete this process and be ready for installation. If GIS cemetery mapping is ordered, the process can be more time consuming.
If no cemetery mapping or data conversion is required, and no customizations are needed, installation can take place almost immediately upon receiving an order.
Please note that cemetery mapping and cemetery data conversions can be started concurrently, so one does not have to be completed before the other can be started. As a result installation will likely be ready upon completion of cemetery mapping as this is typically the longer of the two processes.
Installation and training takes between 1 and 2 days, depending on the number of components ordered.
This step can be as short as one week if there is no data conversion or mapping. If there is mapping, you can estimate one to two days per acre. Therefore, for a 10 acre cemetery, this step can take between 10 and 20 days to complete.
Step 5: Post Implementation Testing and Assessment
We recommend that you set up a testing environment when your software is first implemented, to ensure the software is running smoothly and to familiarize your staff with the new software. If you have another system in place, running both systems in parallel is a good idea, until you are comfortable with the new software.
This step usually takes as long as it takes for staff to be comfortable with the new system. We recommend not taking more than 1 month of running dual systems.
Cemetery Software Implementation Done Right, On Time
As you are going through the steps to implement new cemetery software, make sure you consider all areas of your business that can experience improvements through the implementation. Also, be sure to consult with your cemetery software provider to ensure they fully understand your business needs and the industry as this will help for a smooth, timely and successful implementation.