Cemetery Record Keeping: Best Practices for Managers

May 2, 2024
Stewart Hindmarsh

As a cemetery business, you should know exactly how to keep cemetery records and how best to protect them. There is no doubt that records management is an essential function of your daily business. In addition to accessing critical financial and regulatory records, when you maintain up-to-date information on your customers, their families, and their relationships, this can have a real impact on your business. So, the big question is, do you know how to protect your cemetery records?

To ensure cemetery record keeping best practices, the question you need to ask yourself is: does your current records management software solution do enough to protect and support your business?

If you are not sure of the answer, or you feel that the answer shows some flaws in your current systems, here are some tips to assist your cemetery with keeping more accurate and relevant records. When implemented properly these practices will also work to protect your cemetery records and therefore your business, for many more years to come. 

Importance of Record Keeping in Cemeteries

Record keeping has been the cornerstone of the cemetery industry for hundreds of years, and cemeteries would never have been able to run effectively without adequate record keeping. For today’s cemetery managers, the benefits that come from digital record keeping, include: 

  • Providing an accurate and searchable database of crucial information such as sales, burials/burial permits, cemetery deeds, plat records and plat maps/grave locations.
  • Shows inventory and prices in real time. 
  • Ensures business accuracy and compliance.
  • Increases workflow for improved efficiency.

Not only is record keeping an invaluable tool for the cemetery staff, for people looking for information on where their
ancestors are buried, cemetery records provide a window into the past. Cemetery records often contain important information such as:

  • The name of the deceased.
  • Their age at time of death.
  • The date of their death and/or burial.
  • The location of their grave in the cemetery.
  • The names of other people buried in the same grave.
  • A transcription of the inscription on the headstone.

This information is especially important for older burial sites where the headstones may have naturally weathered or fallen, or the markers have been intentionally vandalized or destroyed. In many instances, the records kept by a cemetery are the only remaining documentary evidence about the people who lived in the area and were buried in the cemetery.

Key Components of Effective Cemetery Record Keeping Systems

When considering what you require most out of your cemetery record keeping software, look for:

  • Comprehensive record and database management.
  • Cemetery analytics software.
  • Easy-to-use sales support. 
  • Booking, finance and payment tools. 
  • Affordable digital plot mapping.
  • Clear inventory management.
  • Effortless compliance.
  • User-friendly task management and workflows.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation tools.
  • Highly secure cyber security.

Best Practices

1. Invest in a digital cemetery record keeping solution

Your cemetery needs a records-keeping system, and not a manual one. Increasingly, the expectation from customers, your community and regulatory authorities is that important records and documents are online, accessible, and up-to-date. How much time would you save if all your deceased records were online and able to be searched? For many cemeteries, responding to requests to search cemetery records takes resources away from the day to day running and operations of the business. The more records you have, the more resources are being spent searching through them.

A fully integrated cemetery record keeping management solution enables you to report on your finances, regulatory requirements, deceased search, business trends, available inventory, and much more. Can your current solution do this? A comprehensive solution can manage everything from funeral home bookings, chapel hire and event management, plot management, graveyard mapping, interred records and compliance – all in one, centralized place.

If you’re still sifting through paper files to find records, or feeling overtaken by physical records, it’s time to learn how to keep cemetery records digitally, and once you do you will see a difference.   

2. Maintain accurate cemetery records

Your cemetery record keeping needs to be accurate. The single most important step to moving to a digital solution is ensuring all your data is migrated into your new cemetery software. This process alone will often identify duplicates, missing records, damaged or incorrect records.

Depending on storage conditions and access to your historical records, essential documents may in part be unreadable and damaged by age, wear, and tear. Consider reaching out to your local community who can help; they may be at the local church, historical society, council, etc. Remember your records preserve the history and development of your community, local celebrities, settlers, and are important for the continuity of your community.

3. Ensure compliance in cemetery record keeping

Compliance with regulatory agencies keeps the cemetery and funeral industry protected, but can become a painstaking process if records aren’t stored meticulously.

Deploying an accurate solution makes meeting your regulatory and compliance requirements easier. A clear dashboard with standardized reporting will ensure that you have the information you need at hand instantly and in a real-time environment.

In addition to information as required, you can schedule standard reports to be available based on your local reporting requirements and compliance. Rather than recreating these reports each time, new data will automatically be brought in and reflected in reporting.

4. Uncover cemetery record insights with business intelligence

Harnessing the data from your cemetery record keeping software removes the guesswork and delivers clear, actionable insights into your business. Do you know your sales revenue trends, your largest customer base or supplier base? Unlocking this information allows you to better prepare for future trends, and address any areas that are not performing as expected.

Using analytics over your data provides an objective way to identify overarching trends, as well as recognize opportunities or threats within specific areas of your business. Hunches are helpful, but data provides proof of what is working and what needs addressing.

5. Tap into a wider audience with customer records

With your cemetery records online you are now able to respond quickly to any deceased search queries, but you can also share this information online so anyone anywhere can view the records of people buried or interred at your site. Opening up your business to a new audience may help increase your revenue.

With popular services such as Ancestry.com, LegacyTree.com, MyHeritage.com, 23andMe.com, and others gaining worldwide attention, interest in genealogy continues to grow at a record pace. As people trace their family history and roots from anywhere in the world at any time, connecting families with burial records opens opportunities for cemeteries to begin conversations and foster new client relationships.

6. Control access and protect cemetery records

Make sure your cemetery records and the information you are storing are safe, secure, and in the correct hands. Most solutions are role – or permission-based, so you can set up the structure you need to ensure users can only see and edit the information that is relevant to their role.

Using role-based security also means users are compelled to use your business process for each department. Implementing record-keeping software creates more efficient business practices, fewer errors, and reduces the induction and training time for new employees.

7. Implement disaster recovery for fatal incidents

Do you know how to protect your cemetery records? You might think saving your records electronically is enough, however, with any digital solution you need to make sure you schedule regular back-ups of your data and test these back-ups in order to ensure your cemetery data protection will work in the most effective way.

There is nothing worse than thinking those weekly backups are working, only to discover after a critical incident that you are unable to use or restore data. Disasters are usually unpredictable but can have a catastrophic impact on your business; at any time a disaster may strike and that means you need to be as prepared as possible to protect your cemetery records from such disasters as fire, flood, tornado. Ask your solution provider about automatic backup – this is one of the critical benefits of a records management platform.

OpusXenta Can Show You How To Keep Cemetery Records With Ease

Each of these steps around cemetery record keeping best practices can help manage the lifecycle of records at your cemetery. The right records-keeping management software ensures that you are meeting compliance requirements, serving an ever-connected global community, exceeding customer expectations, and planning for the future of your business.

If you would like to know more about how to keep or how to protect your cemetery records with a software such as recordkeepr – see opusxenta.com.


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