Many cemetery managers know that it's time to upgrade to modern cemetery mapping software. While some are looking to digitize their paper-based records, burial ledgers, and spreadsheets, others are looking to transform productivity and efficiencies. So, where should you begin as you search for new cemetery software?
The OpusXenta team has been working closely with cemeteries across North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific since 2016. In our experience, these are the 10 must-have features that cemeteries of any size should be searching for.
You may currently have paper cemetery maps, simple digital maps, or an Excel file with a rudimentary plan of your grounds – which is manually updated when, or if, someone remembers. But your cemetery map can be so much more.
With GPS-enabled functionality in your cemetery maps, you can help to point visitors, workers, and industry providers to exactly the right location every time. Look for software with Google Maps integration (or ArcGIS Online as another option) such as OpusXenta byondpro, and you'll be able to create a highly-detailed picture of your grounds, including graves, landmarks, flora, and even plumbing and electrical drawings. If you need greater detail than Google Maps can provide, you can also supplement this with drone mapping functionality.
Effective cemetery mapping software builds a full and accurate picture of your cemetery grounds, so you and your team can make bookings in real-time without the risk of double-selling plots.
Sales staff can check and book available inventory from their mobile device as they walk through the grounds. There never needs to be an embarrassing phone call to a family about a double-up, because everyone in your team is working with the same information in real-time.
You may well have historical records, information on points of interest, and photographs relating to specific plots, points, or graves within the cemetery. With modern cemetery mapping software, you can build a truly multi-faceted map that links these documents to the relevant location.
Perhaps you'd like to add information about different trees within the grounds; outline the history of certain buildings and landmarks, or compile community information to link photos and letters to specific graves. Visitors and families will be able to travel through the cemetery grounds with an interactive map on their device and access a rich source of information at the click of a button.
It largely goes without saying, but a cloud-based system is essential for a secure and multi-user cemetery mapping solution. You can configure multiple user roles and access levels, all of which connect back to the comprehensive database. There's one single point of entry for all information, and yet users will be able to access this data from wherever they happen to be using their own device.
There are benefits for everyone involved:
With an accurate representation of your cemetery grounds, you'll be able to plan for future needs, see inventory in real-time, and optimize the use of space across all of your cemeteries.
Of course, you'll want to be certain that your cloud service offers a high level of data security and automated data backup, which leads us to…
You'll know that regulatory compliance is key in successful cemetery management, but it can be difficult to find a solution that makes compliance easy. While compliance requirements vary from region to region and sometimes even from town to town, it's worth looking for cemetery management software that offers mandatory fields (so that users must enter certain data), custom document creation (so you can ensure you're meeting every requirement), and secure data storage located within your country.
This, together with a software provider that can help with any customization you might require, will ensure that you can stay fully compliant with best practice record-keeping standards.
It simply makes sense to ensure you'll have scheduling capabilities in your new cemetery management software. An option such as byondpro enables you to manage resources, staff, services, burials, and even facilities and vehicles from within one system. It means no double-booking of staff or venues. It means work will be carried out at the right place and right time. It also means that internment spaces can be promptly prepared in time for the family to arrive. Any changes within the system (for example, if the family has to move their service date) can be updated in real-time with notifications for appropriate users.
In addition, customizable workflow functionality allows you to create detailed work orders and see when each step has been completed. This can be a game-changer if you're running larger or multiple cemeteries.
Financial and accounting capabilities are a key consideration when you're choosing software. Ideally, you'll be able to send quotes and invoices from your mapping system and keep track of all outstanding accounts receivables.
There are real advantages to using a financial system that's dedicated to cemetery management. For example, you can use byondpro's fully integrated financial system, which allows accurate tracking of trust funds for easy budgeting. Alternatively, you might prefer to easily export data to third party accounting systems if this is more appropriate for your needs.
If you have a cemetery sales team, they should have everything they need to provide a highly professional service for bereaved families. As we've already covered, digital cemetery software should include real-time inventory management and remote access to the central database. When sales associates are speaking with a family or provider in the cemetery, they'll ideally be able to check the availability and dimensions of a particular plot right there and then.
Another important feature is that of pricing management. byondpro allows you to easily generate price lists so staff can select a product and provide accurate pricing. You can immediately produce a detailed price list upon request to customers or authorities, for example, to adhere with the FTC Funeral Rule applicable to certain providers in the United States. You can also update prices based on a particular date and automatically keep a detailed history of all prices, which can be important for compliance.
If a bereaved family member or a funeral home calls the cemetery office, you'll want to be able to bring up their details and be able to answer any questions they might have promptly and clearly. This is why a cemetery layout software with built-in customer relationship management is so important. You'll be able to manage the entire booking process from start to finish, see customer details at a glance, take electronic signatures, and manage payment plans easily. You'll be equipped to nurture your customer relationships and pre-empt customer needs.
Whether you're marketing to industry providers, directly to families, or both, marketing automation capability provides an excellent way to reach your audience in highly personalized ways via email or social media. You can send updates on new services or areas and explore how these are beneficial to the reader; send sympathetic reminders of memorial days and events, and monitor the responses to these communications over time. You can read more about marketing automation and its benefits here.
At its most basic, modern cemetery layout software will allow you to create a comprehensive map of your cemetery grounds. At its most sophisticated, it will provide an all-inclusive cemetery management solution that empowers you to easily plan, manage, and optimize your cemetery grounds well into the future.