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Is Your Data Being Held Hostage?

August 31, 2020

Feature image of Is Your Data Being Held Hostage?

By Kelly Gilgenbach, Vice President of Sales

Recently, a funeral home lost every single paper file they had in a fire. It was absolutely devastating. Luckily, no one’s life was lost, but the damage to property and the loss of their historical data was huge.  

Another funeral director friend of mine lost all of his data when his computer hard drive crashed. His data was not backed up, and it was not able to be recovered from the damaged hard drive. 

Neither of these friends ever thought anything like this would happen to them. Unfortunately, their data was at risk, and they didn’t even know it! Luckily, we live in a digital, online world! Technology can and should be leveraged to serve your staff and to run your funeral home more efficiently. A recent nationwide study shows that 83% of funeral homes use some kind of administrative software. However, not all funeral home software systems are created equal. Often, it is like comparing apples and oranges. When evaluating software options or your current administrative system, here are some questions to consider asking: 

  • Is my data localized on one computer, or is it backed up on an off-site server (i.e. the cloud)? 
  • How does my data get backed up? Does that cost extra?
  • Is my data protected from ransomware and malware attacks? 
  • Can I export my data at any time? Is there an additional cost? 
  • What computer platform can run this software? 
  • How many devices are included with this administrative software package? 
  • Do I have to download drivers or special software to access the administrative system? 
  • Is the software consumer friendly? Can it be used with families throughout the arrangement process? 
  • How many staff members can access my funeral home data? 
  • What roles and permission does the software offer to keep my data secure? 
  • How many times do I have to enter/retype data within this system?

Let’s walk through a few of these questions and why they are important to your funeral home and families!  

What is “the Cloud”? 

Managing your data can be a difficult task. Most funeral homes have countless filing cabinets or record books from years past of all the families they have served. “The cloud” is simply off-site data storage that can be accessed from the internet on any device. Imagine being able to take a family’s call from anywhere and give them preneed or at-need case information without having to run up to the funeral home. Providing relevant data and information in a quick manner provides a greater level of comfort to families than having to call them back the next morning or after you drive to the funeral home to retrieve that information. When choosing an administrative software system, make sure you can access all your information in real time from any device. Furthermore, understand that some software companies charge for each device and limit which devices can access data remotely. For example, there are companies that can only operate on Windows and each device outside of the one funeral home computer has an additional charge. They may claim to be “cloud-based” because they offer a sync function, but they are actually still installed software programs. Other companies truly are cloud-based and can run on any browser, require no installation, and offer remote access at no extra charge for any and all of your devices including iPads, tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc. 

Safety and Security 

Ransomware and malware attacks have been buzzwords in recent news. Cyber attacks are happening across the globe. Funeral homes are losing historical data in tragic fires, water damage, and even theft. All data files are at some level of risk. In the past, funeral homes were limited to just using one local computer or a filing cabinet to store important information. Today, more and more data is being stored in “the cloud. Whether your data is stored in the cloud, on your local desktop computer, or at the funeral home, it is imperative to understand how you can protect your vital records.  

  • Computers that are more than 5 years old often have out-of-date security protocols and are at risk of hard drive failure. Keep current with your computer hardware and if possible, implement an antivirus software that helps to scan for attacks.  
  • Some cloud-based software companies use the same security measures to protect your data as banks and online retailers. Some do not. Choose a company that is built on the latest technology using the most advanced security measures. 
  • If all of your case information is in a filing cabinet, consider scanning your files to create a digital back up to prevent loss due to fire, water, or theft. 

Whose Data Is it, Anyway? 

Now that you have all or some of your data in an administrative software, what if you need to back it up, export it, or want to move it to another provider?  This is where the situation can get very sticky. Some companies charge hefty fees to have the software automatically back up your data. Other companies will basically hold your data ransom. Recently, I talked to a funeral director who was going to be charged $1800 to export their own data. Some companies make you upgrade to their latest version before they will even consider letting you have your data. If you are looking for a change in funeral administration systems, these practices can be beyond frustrating! Look for a provider that gives you the ability to export your data at any time, provides hourly back up, and allows for custom report generation so you can see and manage your data whenever you want, however you want. It is your data, anyway, right? 

Bottom line, if you do a little homework ahead of time you can find an administrative system that best suits your needs. Technology is helping funeral directors spend less time on data entry, have access to their data in real time from any connect device, have automated backups, and even online arrangement tools.   

If you want to know how things turned out for my funeral director friend, we were able to help him get up and running again within 48 hours of disaster striking. Their historical data was lost, but they have peace of mind now that going forward, all of their data is being automatically backed up and stored in the cloud. If you are currently using a filing cabinet to manage all of your historical information, it is time to leverage technology to increase your efficiency, protect your data, and better serve families. If you are currently utilizing an outdated system that is no better than a digital filing cabinet, your data may be at risk for loss because it isn’t backed up. Isn’t it time to find solutions that actually work for you and the families you serve?


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