Insource vs. Outsource Your Cannabis Dispensary IT Services

April 4, 2022
by John Lamarche

Outsource and inhouse signs

If you’re an entrepreneur launching a cannabis business you will need quite a bit of technology or IT (Information technology) to run your business. For example if you’re launching a retail location you will need a POS, CMS, you need to have these interfacing with a tracking system called Metrc, you’ll need a network (LAN/WAN), and security. This does not take into account digital signage, delivery, geotagging technology and much much more. All of these technologies will need maintenance and monitoring. To be clearer, check out Top Five Technology Needed to Open a Cannabis Dispensary and at some point, whether you are opening a dispensary, grow, lab, processor or transport company, you will be presented with a question: do I insource or outsource my technology procurement, set-up, monitoring and maintenance?

Do you know how to make sure your business can get up and running?

Our advice is plain and simple. Even if you can buy, set-up and manage your own IT, hire someone else who is qualified to do it. The cannabis business is high stress, fast paced, cash intensive, stakes are very high. There is no room for mistakes. And no one wants to pay for their own mistakes when they should already be up and running. It costs a lot more to set something up the wrong way because later on you’re going to have to rip and replace. You’re going to spend double the money versus bringing somebody in now who knows what they’re doing and can set it up for you the right way from the start, not only because you want it to be right for that single store, but so the solution is scalable over the long term.

Is your technology scalable?

No pun intended, the key to success in cannabis is growth. Consider, as you grow, will your IT be able to scale with your growth plans? How are you setting up your network? Are you setting up your cyber to scale? Or your software? What kind of software are you using to manage the irrigation in your grow? The reason why companies like Backcross are good at what we do is because we have the experience and we allow you to think about what’s your next step before we even start the first step. So it may be a little more expensive at first to retain somebody like Backcross to come in and do that, but in the long run, you are going to save a lot of money and increase your profit margin.

Are you prepared for something to go wrong?

Nowadays, you can pretty much DIY anything. Using the internet, you can figure out how to set up a network and a single pane of glass display. In fact, we are working on a whitepaper and video series to show how to DIY this properly. The crucial piece is you have to set up your IT, so it can scale for your business needs (no cannabis business is the same). Furthermore, you need to be prepared to immediately address an issue if something goes wrong. And something will always go wrong. Worse, if you use something improperly, it may work over the short term. In the long term though, you may start seeing issues. When you’re talking about the type of numbers that these cannabis businesses do in a day, it’s well worth the investment to make sure you have properly set up your IT backbone. If any one of your core technologies are to go down, it could mean $40k in lost revenue for a half day down in a busy store.

Who can you call when you need help?

And then the other thing to think about is, what’s your fallback? What’s your help desk? You may have a tech savvy relative, friend or business partner who can come set up your IT to get it working. But at the end of the day, what if something breaks? He’s in the middle of a meeting. Who’s your help desk? Who’s your maintenance? All that should be taken into consideration. Who do you call 4 pm on a Friday when something goes wrong and the weekend rush is starting to pour in through the door? That could be very damaging to your business. A company like Backcross can have you back up in 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the issue. We have so many backup systems going that there is always a fallback. We build IT infrastructure that way. We have built in redundancy at every stage, at every point. You must think five steps ahead.

Some people, including friends will come to us and ask, “I understand the risk. I still am going to try to set up our IT ourselves. What should I do?”

Our answer? “You better have a really good relationship with God.”

What do you do when it all fails?

Kidding aside, if you want to do the set up on your own, that’s fine. But maybe hire a company like Backcross to do your support. Setting up an IT network for a store isn’t rocket science if you just want to set one up. But what do you want it to do? How do you want it to act? How do you want to take it? What kind of redundancy are you building in? What’s the scalability of that? All that stuff. What products do you need? What’s best for the marketplace? What’s the right price?

You can go do all the research and set up your location. But God forbid it fails. And then what do you do? Then you have to call someone like Backcross. And again, it’s pay now or pay a lot more later. Because at that point, now you’ve got business interruption and the cost for somebody like us to come in and redo your network and fix it and at some point it’s going to happen.

Backcross Solutions has an IT consultant package for dispensaries where we come in, we give you advice on how to set it up, and then you can either do it yourself or let us do it. We can give you a cost for us to do it or you try to do it yourself. Regardless, we are here to help you navigate these important decisions. Backcross offers a free Alignment call for businesses looking to assess fit. To learn more about our process check out our services page and our resources page for all things cannabis IT related. We hope this article has been helpful. Best of luck!