July 14, 2022
 min read

End-to-End Operational software vs Seed-to-Sale software: What’s the difference?

As the cannabis and food industries grow, so too does the number of software players in the market

As more countries around the world legalise cannabis and food production moves into high yielding vertical environments, we see companies in these industries starting to scale. It's a natural progression that cultivation and post-production teams in cannabis and food will look for software to manage their compliance obligations and operations. As the cannabis and food industries grow, so too does the number of software players in the market and the level of sophistication.

But when you’re looking for software to manage your operations and compliance there is a huge amount of choice - so which is best for you? Let’s take a deeper look.

Seed-to-Sale software

Seed-to-Sale software is commonly targeted at cannabis operators to manage their entire operation and they usually claim they can manage all of your operational processes, but in reality, they can’t or they don’t.

If you are looking for a software to help you manage all of your operational processes, whether you’re growing food or cannabis, you need to take a look at who developed it and how it was developed. But before we dig into this, let's think about why.

First, a question: if you didn't need to track the compliance steps for your cannabis farm operation, would you still look at investing in a Seed-to-Sale software to help run your operations? If your answer is ‘no’, that's because the software has been built for compliance rather than operational management.

As any operator would know, from a cultivation and post-production perspective (whether it’s food or cannabis) there is more to managing your operations than just compliance. Some of the better Seed-to-Sale software should offer you some management capabilities outside of the track and trace system for your compliance, but most don’t, because they just don’t have the experience or the ability to understand how the processes apply in a working farm environment.

So let's first establish what a good Seed-to-Sale software looks like before we get into more detail about why there is not much crossover between cannabis and food cultivation & post-production software.

Any cannabis Seed-to-Sale software that is intended to manage processes from cultivation through to sales should ensure all of your plant batches and product information is tracked as per the relevant State, Federal and local/ municipal regulatory framework.

This activity should include track and trace for all your cultivation plant batch activity including but not limited to:

  • License ID;
  • Labelling;
  • Seed acquisition;
  • Batch numbers
  • Strain type;
  • Mother ID;
  • Plant phase;
  • Pest management;
  • Mortality and plant waste;
  • Dry and wet weights;
  • Lab results & testing; and
  • THC and CBD levels.

Your post-production processes and packaging movements should also be tracked including but not limited to:

  • Product type;
  • Facility and license ID;
  • Packaging details;
  • Lab results & testing;
  • THC & CBD levels;
  • Weight;
  • Transfer details; and
  • Retailer details.

End-to-End Operational software

Now let's take a holistic approach and think of a software managing your operational needs first and then integrating your compliance requirements to suit how you operate. When you look at a software as managing your end-to-end operations, you start to see how powerful a software product can be.

Compliance is necessary to keep the business operating but why would you not take a whole-of-operation approach to managing your facility or farm? It's really important, especially if you want to expand, reduce staff turnover, provide quality products and maximise revenue. When you take a broader perspective you’ll start to see cultivators and post-producers of other plants such as food or psychedelics use the software and gain value. At the end of the day, whether you’re dealing with cannabis, food or psychedelics, it’s all cultivating and producing a biological product.

We have taken this holistic approach with the development of the Blakthumb OS - an End-to-End Operational software. We look at your business with a “people first” approach because without your people and your team, your product will lack quality and you’ll spend more time training new people instead of nurturing existing team growth. This lack of foresight will ultimately cost you money and time.

High staff turnover is one of the most critical issues facing the industry in both food and cannabis operations. Coupled with a lack of skilled people as a result of rapid global industry growth, it’s a potential recipe for disaster. The fact is, the talent race is on, and those operators that are able to build and nurture their teams will be able to build the most value over the medium and long term.

It is critical for cultivators and post-producers to win and develop talent. Only the best will get to pick and choose. In facilities where procedures are informal or unclear, pay is low, conditions are poor, there is little autonomy, and there is little or no opportunity for growth or development; people will have the choice to move onto something better.

An End-to-End Operational software is a way to help nurture strong teams by providing clear direction on industry procedures, remove a lot of the opportunity for human error, relieve Lead Cultivators or Managers of much administration so they have time to develop their teams, and provide visibility for the entire operational team about work to be done which builds cohesion.

Looking after Lead Cultivators and Managers is important. Right now, the responsibility on their shoulders is huge. They are managing the entire grow and operation, managing the team, training new staff, setting up and making sure SOPs are getting done, managing compliance and costs, record keeping and managing unexpected issues on a daily basis. Providing your leaders with a software tool that will help them gain visibility over operations, provide structure to their teams, allocate jobs and manage compliance reduces their stress and gives them valuable time back in their day to concentrate on more strategic or complex matters.

An End-to-End Operational software also provides a huge data advantage to your operation. As your team goes about their day to day activities, an End-to-End Operational software will collect thousands of data points on your operation and this is accumulated to provide valuable insights on your operations and business.

One of the most valuable aspects of a big data set is the ability to forecast accurately. Rather than relying on the past few yields to generate forecasts; having an End-to-End Operational software allows you to collect the data from multiple sources and deliver insights beyond yields. Intuitive forecasting can tell you who from your team grew that batch, what nutrient mix was used, what room/greenhouse/modules will be available, the ideal environment setting at each phase, pinpoint issues during its lifecycle and then generate all of this into an actionable forecast. When you can access all of your data points, you begin to build powerful forecasting models for future yields, cost management and profitability.

Software is a tool that should help organisations grow, not be another thing on the list to manage. Any software needs to integrate intuitively with your operations, so it is important that the developers of your software know what it's like to be in your shoes. Software companies also need to be mindful of the operating environment for cultivators and post-producers and the value their software provides. Not only should software be priced reasonably to reduce barriers to access, it also needs to be transparent about how it treats your data, and the value it brings to your operation now and into the future.

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