Sorry, I couldn’t help myself! There are too many puns to be had with this one. But in all seriousness, each day we inch closer to legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational purposes throughout the United States and in Canada. In fact, Arcview Market Research noted in a recent report that marijuana sales could exceed $21 billion by 2021 which helps to explain the surge in interest from growing cannabis businesses.
But while many companies are jumping at the chance to get a piece of the action, they are quickly realizing the significance that their software infrastructure has on the success of the business. Unfortunately, their existing technical environment is not designed to handle the revenue potential and regulation demands of this thriving industry.
Most cannabis processors tend to solely invest in seed-to-sale technology which is a vital aspect for fulfilling regulatory requirements. This typically surrounds the process of tracking product throughout its lifecycle, often with the use of barcodes. While keeping a strong level of control over lot tracking is critical, this type of software tends to limit itself to just this.
At the end of the day, seed-to-sale functionality should be considered a feature of the business management software used. The technology used to run the business needs to expand beyond just the typical seed-to-sale capabilities and deliver a deeper level of knowledge for smart business decisions to be made quickly. In short, there needs to be a full ERP system in place, just like other successful manufacturing, processing, and distribution companies have.
Here are some other things to should look for in a cannabis ERP environment that will meet the specific needs of the industry:
Report Generation – There is no “cutting through the red tape” when it comes to adhering to regulations in this heavily watched industry. If a cannabis producer is ever questioned by governmental authorities seeking proof that they are compliant with the law, they better be able to generate the necessary reports at the drop of a hat. Having quick access to accurate, historical data is critical to maintaining a reliable audit trail.
Genetic Tracking – When evaluating why certain plants are more successful than others, you need to be able to view a plants lineage. An ERP platform should be capable of tracking from mother plants to clones, and back through to the original plant. Having the strongest genetics portfolio will help cannabis companies gain a competitive advantage and using this historical data will help them get there.
Ecommerce – Just like any other type of business, cannabis companies can realize great revenue potential using digital storefronts. Consumers have the opportunity to read reviews, better understand product benefits, create a profile with shopping history and personal information, and purchase at the click of a button. All of this directly influences a positive user experience and thus repeat customers. From the business side, data that lives within an ERP can be automatically pulled to populate the inventory availability displayed on the ecommerce website. This can eliminate the potential for costly human error when trying to update these independent platforms manually.
Patient Management – With the government keeping a close eye on how medical cannabis businesses are operating, it is critical to carefully manage customer prescriptions. You will need to ensure a strong process is in place to restrict sales to only what a customer is approved for – from cycle limits to sale limits. Some ecommerce systems are equipped to only display the products that a particular customer is approved for, providing an extra layer of security for the business.
Inventory Management – With good visibility and strong control over inventory, businesses can reduce waste and maintain profit. It is also important to always know where the product is as it moves throughout the warehouse. Scanners and barcodes that are directly tied to a centralized ERP platform ensure that all product is accounted for and can be instantly located in the facility using real-time data.
Formulation for Extractions – As you identify the highest product demands, how easy will it be to replicate? Especially for extractions, you will want a fool-proof method in place for targeting specific potencies and selecting certain lots to get you to your ultimate goal. Keeping and storing records of these details within an ERP system will eliminate the need to rely on trial and error tactics in an attempt to reproduce a product.
Quality Control and Process Control – At Deacom, we define process control as “scalable and repeatable processes.” When it comes to the cannabis industry, this is critical to ensuring that steps are never bypassed by employees and that the finished product is of the highest quality each and every time. ERP software can keep records of each employee’s involvement in the process and provide QC holds, or control points, throughout a product’s lifecycle.
Cannabis has already proven itself to be a complex industry and as it continues to pick up steam, it will only get more difficult to manage. By taking steps now to ensure your ERP platform has the ability to deliver the above capabilities, your business can be positioned to scale efficiently and reliably.
For more information about how DEACOM helps cannabis companies strengthen their operations, click here.