There seems to be a software application for almost everything and lots that do similar things. It is important to note that the software application you choose is a vital tool that will help your seed business operate effectively, doing the mundane record keeping and calculating and summarizing data that provides the information you need to help you run your business. Choosing the right software solution is worth spending time and effort on.

Having recognized the need for change and embarking on a process to select a software application for your business, what are the key things to look for? First, select the five most important business improvements that the solution must provide. For example: tracking parent and planting for seed production, better visibility of seed production estimates, ensuring grower payments are accurate and on time, tracking lots and quality in inventory, accu-rate visibility of inventory and availability, standardization of the data for reports against production, inventory and orders.

Next, identify the scope of what the software must cover and specific business needs and requirements in collaboration with the people in the different roles and departments in your business. For example: manage production contracts with the ability to track bins and quality of the raw seed on-farm, track all inventory movements and adjustments, review quality information across all samples for lots and inventory, record and track cleaning, bagging and other costs against the seed being processed, automatically price orders using zonal price lists, etc.

You also need to work closely with the software vendor. Investment in software is for the long term and you need to have a relationship with the vendor for many years. So choosing the right software vendor is as important as the software itself. So what do you need from your software vendor? Domain knowledge and experience in the seed industry, implementation support and training throughout the proj-ect and beyond, aftercare and on-going customer service and help desk, customization service and regular software updates to meet current and future business needs. Software and technology never stand still for very long.

Your business will also most likely look very different in five years’ time, so the software application you choose needs to stand the test of time.

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