How Cemetery Management Software Can Help Cemeteries to Mitigate Risk

By: Graeme Arthur
Monday, October 16, 2023

What does risk look like for cemeteries? Are the impacts financial...legal...reputational? The simple answer is, like any organization, they are all of those and more.

Here we explore some of the risks common to most deathcare providers, the challenges they pose, and how they can be mitigated with the help of cemetery management software.

SPACE AND SUSTAINABILITY Space, (somewhat inevitably), is one of the biggest risks faced by cemeteries.

Where opportunities for expansion are limited and land availability in parts a challenge - how can cemeteries remain sustainable and mitigate the risk of running out of space?

How well do you know your inventory? A good place to start is ensuring that you know exactly what you have, where you have it, and the rate at which you are running out of it.

A lack of visibility of your data may seriously limit your ability to effectively manage your inventory and maximize the space that you have. Up-to-date, interrogable information, linked to ‘true’ digital cemetery maps is key to helping you forecast accurately and plan for the future.

Some modern cemetery mapping tools utilize high-resolution aerial drone imagery for a truly digital cemetery burial plot map, showing locations with plot reference, linked to records within their database and updated in real-time.

When combined with data verification processes, this can also provide a forensic inventory audit of your inventory, and even identify untapped inventory for sale.

With cemetery operators looking for ways to stretch the lifespan of their cemeteries for generations to come; and where capacity is reached and additional land is hard to come by, it’s also important to be able to find innovative ways to use the space that they have.

Not only this, but in such a perpetually challenging environment, the ability to make data-driven decisions is key to ensuring sustainability.

Key to making informed business decisions about the future is being able to accurately forecast the rate at which you are running out of space. That can be a challenge when information is not easily accessible as a result of using disjointed systems or multiple sources of data.

Having a clear picture of what you’re selling against what inventory you have left - from week to week, or month to month - will provide a good indication of the rate at which you are running out of space, and in turn will allow you to take appropriate measures, such as reviewing the release of pre-paid plots, or revising your facilities management plans.

Consider then, the value in cemetery reporting tools that show you exactly what you have available at any one time - a single system linking live data records to plot locations providing the visibility required to make accurate, reliable forecasts, years in advance.

LEGACY SYSTEMS Think about the wealth of information that you hold. Now think what would happen if that was to be lost - either to time, or an unforeseen event such as water or fire damage?

Think also about how long it takes to pore over that information to find what you need. How does that impact both your time and that of your customers?

Put simply, paper poses a risk.

Older, disjointed systems - even those that aren’t paper-based - often mean that data comes from various sources, running the risk of conflicting information, and the increased chance of errors or mistakes being made, such as double or triple entry.

INSTITUTIONAL KNOWLEDGE Quite often, we rely on ‘institutional knowledge’ - the knowledge carried ‘in the head’ of long-serving members of staff - often not written down, stored, or accessible by anyone else.

What happens to that wealth of knowledge when that person moves on or retires? What systems or processes are in place to avoid that loss?

It soon becomes clear then, the importance of protecting that legacy of knowledge and information by storing it digitally - backed up, protected, and easily accessible.

A single cemetery management system, with linked data, updated in real-time, backed up and accessible by everyone in your organization provides a safe home for your records.

Records management is one of the foundations of effective cemetery management, and by intuitively bringing deceased electronic records together into a single, quickly searchable database, cemetery software systems can protect and provide all of the information you need at the click of a button.

UNSUPPORTED SOFTWARE And while we’re talking about backed-up information - did you know that running old, unsupported software not only poses risks in terms of data security but can also limit your future growth?

When the time comes to upgrade your hardware, you may simply not be able to run your old software on it, costing you valuable time and money.

Not only this, but software crashes can have a massive impact on your daily operations - without access to data, you’re running blind - increasing the chance of mistakes, slowing productivity, and increasing the likelihood of unsatisfied customers.

These are just some of the risks that can be mitigated by using cloud-based cemetery management software and switching to a technology partner who operates a Software as a Service (SAAS) model.

HEALTH AND SAFETY Cemetery spaces pose several health and safety risks to both staff and the general public.

Hazards such as toppled or unsecured monuments, overgrown flora, downed trees or overhanging limbs, and cracked paths, to name just a few, can pose very real and literal risks to individual safety, and if overlooked or missed, may even expose deathcare providers to legal action (more of which in a moment).

It’s therefore imperative that you have everything you need to ensure that the physical space in which you occupy is as safe as possible. That means carrying out regular safety checks, and risk assessments and keeping on top of your memorials management.

All of this can be made simpler using a cemetery management system that streamlines your workflows, refining processes essential to carrying out effective risk management.

Record memorial safety inspections and view risk assessment histories on each plot record - run reports to ensure compliance and see when plots are due their next risk assessment.

Do your teams have everything they need to mitigate safety risks? Do you have the right processes, procedures, and workflows in place to ensure tasks are completed efficiently and in good time?

LITIGATION Double-sold plots, mislocated burials, wrong graves opened for burial, and installing a marker or monument at the wrong grave are just some of the many risks that can lead to the real possibility of litigation and a real human toll.

There have been numerous reports of families visiting the wrong graves for years - even decades - causing untold grief and distress, but also potentially millions in lawsuits for the cemetery operator.

Deathcare providers will always have the best interests of their families at heart, but without the right systems and processes in place, they run the risk of damaging that relationship.

It’s imperative therefore that records are accurate, and matched exactly to plot locations on digital cemetery maps. This can be a challenge with records and maps stretching back many years, and information pulled from several different sources.

It’s clear, then, that deathcare providers can mitigate these risks by having a cemetery software management system that provides them with ‘a single source of truth’ - one which gives clear visibility of data and inventory, as well as confidence in the accuracy of the information they hold - allowing them to get ahead of any potential issues.

For more, visit: www.plotbox.io

Graeme Arthur is a content specialist with leading deathtech software provider PlotBox. Graeme has over 20 years of experience working in a variety of marketing roles and is passionate about deathcare management. PlotBox is a cloud-based deathcare management solution that facilitates cemeteries, crematories, and funeral homes to operate to world-class standards.

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