Cannabis ERP Software: Should You Build or Buy?

There are dozens of software products available for the cannabis industry. Some have been customized from other products originally designed for different industries. For example, Point of Sale software was originally intended for the grocery industry. Others have been designed specifically to address the growing legal market for marijuana; these tend to be niche products that only address a small area of a cannabis business owner’s needs.

And one—yes, just one—is a holistic solution to the entire spectrum of software needs for any cannabis business. The rest are all square peg solutions trying to wedge themselves into round holes.

That one product is TigHC, which was built to prioritize configuration over customization, putting the power in the user’s hands and keeping more of the user’s money in their pockets.

TigHC is faster, adaptive, flexible, and costs significantly less than most of its competitors. Best of all, the TigHC user has complete control over their own implementation. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, let’s explore the two main types of solutions available. Cannabis ERP software solutions fall into two categories:

  1. Software built from scratch
  2. Software built on a trusted ERP platform (i.e., Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central)

Cannabis ERP Software Built from Scratch

Let’s start with the from-scratch solutions. You have the choice to build your own cannabis business management software that is custom fit to meet your needs. Built from the ground up, a software project of this size requires a full-stack development team with the necessary programming skills. The decision to build your own business management software solution requires extensive up-front analysis, planning, design, programming, design, documentation, and maintenance.

And that’s the problem. These made-to-order cannabis solutions are too new. They haven’t been tried, tested, and adapted for long enough to be true ERP solutions. And they tend to be buggy and frustrating for the end user.

They are also extremely costly, especially if you don’t have the in-house talent to create and implement the technology. Some of these solutions are meant to offer a full spectrum of functionality, but many of them address only very specific areas like point of sale, traceability, or distribution. For the growers among us, there are hardly any designed for cultivation and production.

These systems are tightly focused on one specific problem and do not provide a holistic solution, requiring users to purchase or subscribe to a variety of systems to meet all of their needs. Unlike many proven ERP solutions out there, these from-scratch systems aren’t seamlessly integrated into other essential systems, like QuickBooks. As a result, new systems have to be built and bolted on to manage them.

The reality is, the do-it-yourself approach is way more expensive and time-consuming than an existing cannabis ERP solution in the long run. While some of these new ground-up products will go bust; others will eventually catch up and may prove to be real competitors, but they aren’t there yet.

Cannabis ERP Software Built on a Trusted ERP Platform

Then you have systems built on a trusted ERP platform, like Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Dynamics 365 Business Central. NAV has been discontinued by Microsoft, but it will be supported until 2023. So, any software solution still running on NAV has quite a bit of transition ahead to be fully converted to the replacement, Business Central, by then. Regardless, the replacement is a huge undertaking and will result in some growing pains and frustrations for end users.

What is Cannabis ERP?

Fortunately, TigHC already uses Business Central for its backend. Business Central is great because, like NAV, it has been through the ringer for years; it is tried and tested and true. It also ties into other connecting systems, creating seamless transition among data sets and different areas of the business.

Even more fortunately, it’s different from every single other cannabis ERP software solution using NAV or Business Central in several ways:

  1. All other solutions make clients use production orders
  2. It has extensive built-in traceability requirements
  3. It’s more affordable than other solutions on the market

Not Your Standard Production Order System

A production order system is built for things like assembling a bicycle. When you build a bicycle, it will always use the same inputs to produce the same output: two wheels, a set of handlebars, and so on and so forth, will always add up to a bike. This is where production orders thrive; there is no need for flexibility for companies that use production orders to build things using identical inputs for identical outputs every single time.

However, as any farmer knows, organic material is never straightforward. Mother Nature produces variable inputs, which creates variable outputs. When you’re using organic material, the recipe is NEVER the same. One day a cannabis producer might need 26 grams of product to create 50 prerolls, and the next day they might need 33. Sometimes a plant is bursting with flowers, and sometimes there’s more stem and leaf weight that can’t be used in finished goods and ends up being waste material.

Of course, before you even get to dried weight, you have to dry the plant. A freshly harvested plant might weigh 30 kilograms. Once it’s dried, that could drop to 3 kilograms. This reality does not compute for any of the production order systems out there; how can 90% of the raw material disappear into thin air without a loss to report? Those in the cannabis industry understand how. All that moisture and stem isn’t a loss because it was never worth anything to begin with—but production order systems are thrown into chaos by it.

The cannabis experts at Tigunia recognized this integral feature and built TigHC with that in mind. Floor workers simply enter the product they’re working with, what they’re starting with (the input weight), and what the ultimate result is (the output numbers). That’s it; just three basic data points keep production going.

Plant Lineage Traceability from Seed to Sale

TigHC also shines when it comes to traceability requirements. Tracking in the cannabis industry is intense, and no other software can keep up like TigHC does.

When a seed grows into a mother, and when that mother becomes 1,500 clones, and when those 1,500 clones are harvested and weighed, and when the dry weight ends up in finished goods… you have to trace it all and be able to trace that end product back to the very first seed. Traceability requires lineage to be compliant, which is a heavy lift for most operations, especially when you need to be able to reverse engineer the lineage as well. Traditional ERP solutions can’t handle this multi-generational concept as it moves throughout the production line.

RELATED BLOG POST: The Administrative Burden of Regulatory Compliance in the Cannabis Industry

Affordable Monthly Subscription

You might think that this kind of full-service solution would be the most expensive option, but it’s not even close. Cannabis ERP competitor price points are significantly higher per user compared to TigHC built on Business Central.

TigHC customers pay as little as $115 per user. That’s because production order products require users to buy a Business Central Premium License on Business Central, while TigHC end users can subscribe to the much more affordable Essentials License. You can learn more about Business Central licensing in our Complete Guide to Dynamics 365. Products built on Dynamics NAV also require end users to pay for hosting, which ends up being hundreds of dollars per user.

Don’t Settle for a Square Peg Solution

The long road is not always the best road. Unless you have a team of programmers and a lot of money and time on your hands, save yourself the headache. There is a huge selection of cannabis technology out there. You just need to get familiar with what your current issues are and what functionality you need. You should also download a copy of our Cannabis Technology Handbook to learn more about what types of cannabis solutions are out there.

With unmatched expertise in business technology and a deep understanding of cannabis business operations, we built TigHC to meet your exact needs. We know how overwhelming the technology side of a business can be, and we’re here to help simplify your systems and reduce the IT burden. For questions about your existing systems or to book a personalized demo of TigHC, contact one of our cannabis business advisors below.

Contact Us Today

Related Posts