Operating a cannabis business is not for the faint of heart. Tight margins, tough regulations, the constant threat of price compression, and continued federal prohibition have people counting their years in the industry like dog years. Throw in the added challenge of managing, measuring, and tracking everything across multiple tech solutions, and the prospect of growth becomes an afterthought in the constant effort to streamline operations.
With so many challenges and a frequent need to put out fires, tunnel vision is a real threat for cannabis operators. More established industries have a solution for this madness: enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
ERP software integrates most of a business’s critical processes into a single system. Imagine the ability to track seed-to-sale, accounting, waste management, inventory, packaging, distribution, strategic forecasting models, and even compliance across multiple markets—all with one software platform.
“A lot of operators end up with a disparate collection of software applications and then sometimes end up having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and get all the applications working at the same time and talking to each other,” said Daniel Wu, senior marketing manager at NexTec Group. “With a single ERP system, operators can plug in every aspect of their business for full control and visibility.”
The increased efficiency can help save money over time, but Wu considers this a mere side benefit. “The biggest advantage is you can truly operate at scale,” he explained. “You can see across the entire business or multiple businesses, hone efficiencies, spot latent issues you couldn’t see before, and bypass a lot of the hassles that come with operating in multiple cannabis markets.”
NexTec entered the cannabis space in 2018 under the brand CannaBusiness ERP, building its proprietary functionality within the powerful Sage X3 solution. The company’s two decades of experience serving other highly regulated verticals such as the food industry helped prepare it for the demands of the cannabis market.
“Our products transitioned perfectly to cannabis due to our experiences with the food industry,” Wu said. “Immediately, we were able to facilitate and help a variety of cannabis operators, especially [multistate operators], manage a rapidly growing business in a chaotic environment.”
For example, when Candian licensed producer FIGR faced a sudden need for a new ERP solution, the company avoided potential chaos thanks to CannaBusiness ERP. The standard, run-of-the-mill seed-to-sale software just wasn’t going to cut it, according to FIGR’s chief financial officer.
“We didn’t have any time to waste, but we still needed to make the best decision to support our operations,” said Kyle Smith, the CFO. “First and foremost, we were looking for a complete, robust ERP solution with a strong reputation and capabilities spanning manufacturing, distribution, inventory control, and core accounting. We could then build on this platform to incorporate industry-specific capabilities.”
Smith and his team were impressed by NexTec’s industry knowledge and the versatility of CannaBusiness ERP. “We didn’t have to explain how we operate, what compliance mandates we face, or which workflows are critical,” he said. “They understood. And, importantly, they assured us they could meet our tight six-month deadline to go live on the new solution.”
NexTec worked with FIGR to integrate the ERP in just seventeen weeks—well ahead of the original deadline and without any disruptions for customers. The changeover “went incredibly smoothly, and we were processing orders right away,” Smith said, adding FIGR’s staff also enjoyed the increased operational ease and functionality of CannaBusiness ERP.
The average cannabis operator has so many important things to track that an all-in-one ERP solution should be a no-brainer, especially in the face of costly regulation changes that can leave unorganized operators scrambling on a regular basis.
“We build all that stuff into our annual and periodic releases, so you don’t have to worry about compliance issues or auditing requirements when new states legalize,” Wu said of NexTec’s commitment to compliance. “All that information is at your fingertips within the software, along with all the other tools you need to weather a particular economic storm.”
Implementing ERP software is like using an architect’s blueprint when building a skyscraper: You could construct a building without it, but the process would be disorganized and inefficient, and the result would be potentially unstable. With a blueprint, however, every detail is planned and coordinated. Every room, every floor, every electrical line and water pipe all fit together perfectly. In a similar way, an ERP system brings structure, coordination, and efficiency to a business, integrating all its different departments and processes into a coherent, well-functioning whole.
And that’s how you scale a cannabis business painlessly.