Viridian Sciences is one of the most robust software packages available to the cannabis industry. It includes almost everything you need to run a cannabis business such as seed-to-sale tracking, production automation, inventory tracking and much, much more. However, there are some other applications that are not part of the Viridian Sciences platform that can be essential to operating a competitive cannabis company.
In this post, we’ll briefly touch on some of the more popular applications and services for needs such as video conferencing, collaboration, security, cloud storage and backup, marketing, staffing, training, etc.
Let’s get started!
Video conferencing and team text messaging are essential for running a streamlined business. Aside from saving tons of time and money on business travel, they also provide instant contact with team members, customers, vendors, freelancers, consultants and so forth helping to facilitate productive, ongoing relationships.
Although Skype is mainly known for its cross-device, cross-platform video conferencing features, it also allows you to record video conferences, share your computer screen with others in attendance, annotate PowerPoint presentations, editable whiteboards, and full-feature texting. Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, also offers 24/7 phone support and boasts enterprise-level security.
GoToMeeting, created and marketed by LogMeIn, is another online meeting, desktop sharing, and video conferencing software package that enables video conferencing. Transmissions are password protected and utilize high-security encryption. Software installed on a host computer can be used within highly restrictive firewalls.
This Skype-like service is designed for video calls, webinars, and demos. With selective screen sharing, Zoom hosts can choose which participants see their screen. Microsoft Outlook can be used to schedule Zoom video conferencing meetings using a plugin. Zoom also offers breakout rooms that allow virtual teams to gather inside video calls while monitoring the main feed. Zoom also provides simple desktop recording features that allow you to record and share conferences, presentations, training, etc.
Google Hangouts, originally a feature of the now-defunct Google+, isn’t just for social contacts. It’s actually aimed at enterprise communication. Now part of the G Suite line Google has also begun integrating features of Google Voice, its IP telephony product, as well as seamless integration with Google Docs, Sheets and Drive.
WhatsApp Messenger is a free, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) app owned by Facebook that allows users to send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media. WhatsApp’s client application runs on mobile devices but is also accessible from desktop computers. In 2018, WhatsApp released a standalone business app targeted at small business owners, called WhatsApp Business.
Collaboration apps have revolutionized how we work. Collaboration apps are used for a variety of purposes such as instant communication between individuals and teams, file sharing, and document storage. Some collaboration apps also provide a system for assigning tasks and setting deadlines. And there’s so much more.
Office 365 is a robust multi-use application for communicating, collaborating, and creating. It includes and integrates Microsoft Excel, Word, and Powerpoint and lets you share documents with custom permissions and privacy controls for granular visibility and access. MS Office offers 24/7 phone and online support.
Google offers a suite of free productivity tools including Google docs, Google Sheets spreadsheet app, Google Draw, Google Forms, Google Calendar, and more. Google Docs allows users to simultaneously edit documents online in real-time. It also integrates Grammarly, the popular grammar and spell-checking app. Google not only offers free entry-level apps but also offers enterprise-level communications and email apps such as Google Mail, Google Chat, and Google Voice.
Slack offers IRC-like, intra-enterprise collaboration features, including direct messaging and persistent chat rooms (channels) organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging. It facilitates file sharing and voice conferencing. Slack workspaces connect communities, groups, or teams via a specific URL or invitation.
Asana, owned by Google, is a robust project management tool. It offers the ability to create teams, manage projects, create milestones, assign tasks, subtasks, and deadlines, track time, and much more. Asana offers scores of plugins that allow users to interface with other cloud-based applications such as Harvest, Creative Cloud, Slack, Dropbox, Zapier, MS Office, G Suite, and much more.
Basecamp, formerly named 37signals, is another web-based collaboration application. It offers the ability to create, schedule and assign projects and tasks. Basecamp is more similar to Asana than to a communications app such as Slack. The open-source web development framework Ruby on Rails was initially created for internal use at 37signals.
Mindmeister is a collaboration tool of a different color. This cloud-based conceptual mapping tool allows users to visualize, organize, share and present ideas in real-time. Documents called mind maps can be shared both privately with an unlimited number of users or publicly. Users can share and edit mind maps, leave comments and feedback, attach files, images, videos, and links to external, as well as internal sources, via embedded URLs. Mind maps can also be turned into interactive presentations. This is a great app for visualizing and planning complex concepts and projects. Pro and Business tiers are available.
The days of dealing with droves of hard drives and servers are numbered. As the internet gets faster, cloud storage is becoming much more popular. Cloud services are often secure, redundant, automated, and very affordable. Most also offer ways to share files with collaborators and clients.
Google Drive not only offers robust cloud storage and backup but it’s the place where all your Google Docs and spreadsheets and so forth are stored. Google Drive can sync with a desktop drive for backup and offers massive data packages at a very low price.
Box is a cloud storage app that provides file-sharing, collaborating and other tools for working with files that are uploaded to its servers. Box offers three account types: Enterprise, Business and Personal. A mobile app allows Android, BlackBerry 10, iOS, WebOS, and Windows Phone users to access their drive.
If your company runs on the Apple ecosystem, iCloud offers world-class cloud storage and file sharing. iCloud runs on iOS, macOS or Windows devices. iCloud also provides the means to wirelessly back up iOS devices directly to iCloud, instead of being reliant on manual backups to a host Mac or Windows computer using iTunes.
Customer relationship management applications, aka CRMs, enable companies to manage interactions with customers as well as prospective customers. CRMs provide a database system custom-tailored to help sales teams to improve these relationships and can greatly multiply productivity.
Salesforce is a pioneer of cloud-based customer relationship management. Originally intended as a sales tool, today Salesforce integrates its CRM platform with marketing, commerce, and customer service. It allows users to track schedules, set goals, and automates workflows.
Pipedrive’s superpower is its well-organized interface with drag and drop functionality. It allows users to organize business leads in a way that provides an overview of sales success and to prioritize actions. Pipedrive easily integrates with Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and other Google apps and many popular third-party business systems.
Email marketing enables mass commercial messaging using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing, however, its real value lies in the ability to capture and segment emails and create targeted and individualized campaigns.
Constant Contact is an industry-standard email marketing and ecommerce marketing platform that offers features that make creating professional-looking email newsletters that look great on all devices. It also provides autoresponder features that let you send individuals a pre-arranged sequence of emails and provides analytics related to opens and clicks.
MailChimp is another popular web-based email marketing service that facilitates the design and distribution of email newsletters. MailChimp offers an array of customizable templates or you can build templates from scratch. As with Constant Contact, MailChimp allows users to segment lists and analyze data such as opens and clicks.
Social media, newsletters, and keyword search-based advertising are among the most effective and profitable advertising mediums in the world. Here are a few of the top digital marketing apps.
Hootsuite is a social media content management platform. The browser-based dashboard supports the scheduling of posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. Additional integrations are available via Hootsuite’s App Directory, including Reddit, Storify, Tumblr, and Marketo. Hootsuite offers both premium and free tiers of the service.
HubSpot is designed for inbound marketing. It includes content management and search engine optimization tools among others. CRM Free is Hubspot’s customer relationship management tool. It helps marketers organize sales leads and tasks in one dashboard. HubSpot Marketing Hub is a content management system for creating landing pages and websites. And Sales Hub uses email automation and tracking to allow salespeople to connect with and follow up on leads more easily. Hubspot also offers tools that make it easier to schedule meetings and speak with potential buyers.
It’s damn near impossible to run a business today without a website. Thankfully website development apps have become more and more user-friendly, manageable, and less expensive. Many companies will still choose to work with a web developer, but if you’re taking your web in-house these are the most popular apps.
More than a quarter of the web is running on this free, open-source content development tool. It allows users to build ecommerce sites, blogs, business sites, portfolios, etc. WordPress offers thousands of 3rd party themes (templates) and plugins that add all sorts of functionality to WordPress websites including forms, calendars, galleries, and much, much more.
Both Wix and Weebly provide website hosting and development apps. The browser-based dashboards allows users to create secure websites that run smoothly on any device. Both offer a myriad of templates with drag and drop design features as well as a host of marketing tools such as forms, SEO guidance, and much more. And both eliminate the need for having to manage website hosting and security which can be timeconsuming and tedious.
As with all businesses, cannabis companies need employees. However, in addition to the usual staff such as reception, HR, accounting, etc., the cannabis industry has a litany of specialized careers ranging from master growers to bud trimmers and budtenders. Here are a few of the top cannabis staffing services.
HempStaff has been in hemp and cannabis recruiting since 2014 and has helped place thousands of employees in hemp and cannabis jobs in over a dozen states. HempStaff has over 50,000 candidates in its cannabis recruiting database. Their Cannabis Training Division specializes in marijuana dispensary training.
To date, Vangst has connected over 10,000 candidates with employers in the cannabis industry. Vangst GIGS is a fully-compliant on-demand staffing platform that connects vetted temporary and long-term labor with employers in the cannabis industry. Vangst also offers career fairs and an online job board.
HerbForce is the newest entry in cannabis staffing, however, ForceBrands has been working with cannabis operations for the past few years. Since the passage of the Farm Bill and the subsequent legalization of hemp, ForceBrands has officially launched its new division, HerbForce.
Ms Mary Staffing works with cannabis operations to place entry level to senior executive employees in retail and cultivation operations both temporary and permanent. In addition to cannabis-specific careers, this agency also seeks out non-cannabis specific professionals in areas such as accounting and security that possess cannabis industry experience.
There are a number of companies that provide education and training for workers in the cannabis industry. Some offer online courses.
Cannabis Training University offers comprehensive advanced education related to medical marijuana. Their team of professional educators is among the most knowledgeable in the industry. Available courses include training for budtending, growing, dispensary operations, and extraction technology.
Cannabis Training Institute courses are accessible via any desktop or mobile device. Educational modules include video, audio, and motion graphics.
Oaksterdam University is the first-ever brick-and-mortar cannabis college in the USA. The university has been more than 35,000 alumni around the world. Oaksterdam University’s faculty includes cannabis attorneys, activists, entrepreneurs, and cultivators from around the world. Their curriculum includes comprehensive hands-on training in all aspects of cannabis operations.
THC University teaches indoor growing techniques. Courses, all developed by industry leaders, are held online.
Green CulturED provides students the opportunity to not only learn about cannabis operations but also to network within the industry. Green CulturEd stays up to date with the latest developments in technology and science.
Below are some other software applications and services that can be invaluable to a successful cannabis operation.
Adobe Creative Cloud – Graphics, Video, Web and Desktop Publishing, and more
Adobe Creative Cloud is the gold standard of pro desktop and web publishing apps. Subscribers can choose packages that include only the apps they use such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro (video), Lightroom (photo) and Dreamweaver (web development). While there is some competition out there, Adobe offers top-of-the-line, cloud-based applications at a competitive price.
Grammarly – Grammar and Spelling Checker
Grammarly is the premier grammar- and spell-checking app. The company offers a free version as well as pro-level versions. Grammarly utilizes artificial intelligence and natural language processing to continually improve its suggestions. There are also plagiarism detection features. Grammarly makes suggestions to improve vocabulary, clarity, delivery, and tone. Grammarly integrates nicely with Google docs and a myriad of other content-powered apps such as Facebook and Twitter for real-time spell-checking.
Norton – Malware Protection
Norton, developed by Symantec, is the industry standard for malware protection. This robust suite of tools includes Norton Security, Norton Small Business, Norton Family, Norton Mobile Security, Norton Online Backup, Norton360, Norton Utilities, and Norton Computer Tune-Up. Without a product such as Norton, cannabis companies risk the disastrous consequences that comes with computer viruses and ransomware.
Procurify is purchasing software that allows you to implement controls and gain visibility into your organization’s spending. With a simple and user-friendly desktop and mobile interface, Procurify offers a purchasing solution your team will actually want to use. Reduce manual entries, manage complex spending, and track your budgets effectively all in one place.
Zendesk – Customer Support
Zendesk offers a robust, cloud-based customer service application that includes a case ticketing system. Zendesk is used by around 150,000 organizations worldwide from the smallest mom and pops to worldwide enterprises.
Shopify is a powerful e-commerce platform that enables businesses to easily build and operate online stores, manage orders, inventory products, fulfill orders, manage refunds, track sales, and more. Shopify is known for frictionless customer service and is one of the few ecommerce services that allows the hosting of cannabis-related shops.
Zapier – Inter-app Translation and Automation
Zapier is a pretty amazing application. It offers scores of API plugins to integrate, translate, and automate tasks across more than 1,500 applications. Zapier integrates apps such as Facebook Lead Ads, Slack, Quickbooks, Google Docs, and much more. For example, Zapier can automatically add emails to Mailchimp from new entries on Google Sheets spreadsheet or from starred emails in Gmail. Used properly this application can greatly expand productivity. It must be seen to be believed. There are both freemium and paid tiers.