| Read time: 5 mins
Depending on how far you got through your geometry textbook, you’ll know that the shortest distance between two points is often defined as a straight line. So why then in providing services do we often find ourselves taking a more circuitous route when getting from point A to point B?
Here, we explore why a joined-up approach is essential for the modern funeral home-cemetery combo operator and how a single source of truth can help them to achieve it.
But first, let’s look at one of the most common barriers to success for any organization:
The problem with information silos
The lack of synergy perpetuated by that perennial favorite - the information silo - causes a myriad of problems, including duplication of effort, redundant roles and bottlenecks, resulting in inefficiencies across the organization.
While we might consider information silos in terms of incompatible data systems, or more broadly as organizational silos, where information is not freely shared between teams or departments, in each case, the net result still remains the same: a series of barriers to where you want to be.
A single source of truth
So what exactly is a ‘single source of truth’ and why is it important to obtain it?
Let’s start with what a few questions:
- How easy is it for you to find information?
- What barriers are there to getting the information you need?
- Do you need to use multiple sources for a complete picture?
- How reliable is that information?
The answers to those questions may indicate whether your organization needs to introduce a single source of truth.
A single source of truth (SSOT) might be considered a ‘state’ or concept rather than a ‘thing’. The ‘thing’ is what will help to provide you with a single source of truth. That ‘thing’ is the aggregation of all of the data held by an organization, within a single location, providing a single point of reference for all. Put simply, it’s a single destination for all of your data or information, reflecting a single truth. 
The impact of silos
Without it, information can remain within silos meaning that people within the same organization can be operating using different data. That can be a challenge for a number of reasons; it can make data-driven decisions more difficult, it can slow process flow and impede collaboration, and it can negatively impact productivity as you search for information.
As we often say, multiple sources of data, and a lack of a single cemetery management system means that deathcare professionals are more like detectives, piecing together sometimes conflicting information to create the whole picture, with routine tasks often taking much longer than they need to. The result? Lost time and a more drawn out experience for families.
Why is this especially important for modern combo operators? Let’s look at some of the challenges:
The challenges for combo operators
The convenience afforded to families by funeral home-cemetery combo operators is largely predicated on the integrated care they provide.
Shared staff and facilities should provide a more seamless experience for families with fewer touchpoints and a simplification of arrangements  - but with overlapping roles, as well as multiple teams, locations, systems and processes pulling information from different sources, there are also a number of challenges.
You can read more about some of those challenges and how to overcome them in our blog here.
So, when considering the number of steps involved - from first call, to pick up and through to interment, it soon becomes clear that without a single repository of information, accessible by all, updated in real time, two key challenges arise:
- Ensuring an experience for families that is not drawn out
- Ensuring that work is not duplicated
When managing complex, interlinked processes, the importance of just where, when, and how accurately information is gathered can’t be overstated.
And of particular importance to combo operators is ensuring that families are not asked for the same information multiple times - for example, a cemetery team asking for the same information provided to the funeral home team - extending the pain and grief they are experiencing, as well as duplicating the amount of work for those who serve them.
What does that mean?
In light of that, as a combo operator, again ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I currently using a number of separate systems to manage my funeral home and cemetery processes from beginning to end?
- Are silos disrupting the flow of information, creating bottlenecks and making communication difficult?
- Does it take me a long time to pull the information I need from a number of different sources?
- Is work being duplicated across teams?
- Do families need to attend separate appointments to collect information and make plans?
- Would a simpler process that can be completed in one meeting be valued by families?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then it’s time to consider creating a cemetery management system that provides a single source of truth for your organization - one source of data accessible by all relevant staff that provides the right information in the right place at the right time.
You can do that by implementing a single platform deathcare management system, such as PlotBox.
PlotBox provides a single platform solution that integrates the essential functions of deathcare management - combining the process flows for deathcare providers that allows them to record one true source of information.
Before doing that, and to ensure you are doing what is right for you, there are a number of factors to take into consideration.
These include: defining what your purpose is, defining your system functionality - what it needs to achieve, and the cost and the risk to your organization. You may discover that the cost of managing disjointed systems is much higher than the risks associated.
You can learn much more about these and more factors to consider when thinking of building our buying a cemetery management system in our eBook.
 Information silo
J. Chen, Investopedia, Mar 22
D.E. Harrington and J. Treber, CATO Institute
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