What waste management firms wish they knew before choosing software
20 November 2023
If you’re looking to boost operational efficiency with automation and real-time tracking—all while managing compliance—you already know software is the answer. But choosing the right software for your waste management business is much more than comparing features.
This decision can literally make or break your business’s efficiency and success. (No pressure.) You might be thinking; “How do I even begin to decide what’s best for our needs?”, or “What will really move the needle for operations?”.
That’s where this blog comes in. We interviewed other waste management firms to find out what they wished they had known before choosing waste management software.
Let’s jump in.🗑️
7 learnings: What to look for in waste management software
As a growing waste management business, things can start feeling chaotic—fast. Next thing you know, you’re gripping your mobile like a stress ball, wondering what else might pop up.🤳
Bottom line: You need a job management system. But what are the key things it should be able to do, and how do you properly vet suppliers?
Here are the must-haves that waste management businesses should look for if they want to seriously boost productivity and profitability:
#1: Scalability for growth 🚀
There’s nothing more annoying than finding a solution and using it for several years to hit a ceiling. Maybe the product didn’t automate beyond scheduling jobs. And this means migrating to a new tool during a busy period. (Not ideal!)
That’s why it’s so important to choose waste management software with features like route tracking for multiple trucks and automatic customer updates. This makes it easier to manage an increased workload—it’s all managed by the tech.
Tom Pickering at Clearance & Clean Up say it best; “as we have grown, BigChange has grown and evolved with us,” He adds; “BigChange allows us to offer an unmatched level of service whilst ensuring waste is dealt with quickly, legally, and ethically.”
Needing to scale was an issue for Eurotech Environmental too; “We had honed our (old) system over many years but it was still very much paper-based and the business had grown to the point that we knew we needed to automate,” says Ops Director, Nick Banks, “However, we didn’t want to change anything and BigChange offered a truly flexible solution that has been successfully adapted for our needs”.
Bottom line: These features should be as standard rather than needing customisation. It makes things easier to manage as you grow. And always avoid systems that cap the number of users.
#2: Weighing up cloud-based vs on-premise tech ⚖
The main reason waste management firms opt for cloud-based tech is the ability to access it from anywhere. Some platforms even allow you to make updates offline and sync up once there’s a signal—saving repeat data entry.
On-premise solutions just don’t work like that.❌ Plus, they require effort to run hardware maintenance and have higher upfront costs. But going with a cloud-based solution that’s reputable means you can keep within budget, mitigate access issues, monitor data security, and have less need for IT support.
Cloud-based waste management software was a game-changer for Nick Banks at Eurotech; “Since BigChange is cloud-based and easily accessible anywhere, anytime, we can expand more easily nationwide as we don’t actually need an office—just somewhere to park our tankers”. Nick adds; “We are also much more reactive to emergency jobs as we know where everyone is and what they are doing—it’s fantastic to have this visibility”.
But wait for this; “Through improved efficiency and productivity, we have seen a £1million boost to our business and are on track to double the size of our fleet. And customers are so impressed that I know we are winning more business thanks to the enhanced service we can now offer”.
I mean, can we pause for a moment and appreciate these results? 👏😍🔥
#3: Integrations with other tools you use 🔗
If you already have systems in place, say accounting software like Sage or Xero, you’ll want to know that it can sync up with your job management platform. Otherwise, you’re headed towards an “oh, crap” moment when you sign the dotted line and then realise it won’t integrate.🙈
So take time to understand what types of integrations are offered with the waste management software platforms you are considering. You’ll want systems that integrate seamlessly with other tools you rely on like accounting, CRM, messaging, and more.
Take Ivan Smyth, MD at Quest Waste Management who values being able to use a platform like BigChange to run operations seamlessly; “From the initial enquiry through to job allocation, completion and invoicing, BigChange helps us manage our resources and share critical information both within the company and with contractors and clients.”
As Ivan points out, syncing data between solutions also helps with sharing information. Plus it means no more duplication of work—like double-keying into two separate tools.
Thetford International, another waste management firm also needed seamless integrations; “It all works very well and seamlessly with our other systems. The whole service operation just runs a lot more smoothly and our customers – and the company Accountant – are a lot happier!”
Note: Look for solutions with open API capabilities or pre-built integrations with major platforms you use. Strong integrations equal enhanced visibility and less operational headaches. (More on this here.)
#4: Implementation timelines—how long to get up and running ⌛
You don’t have time to stop running your business while a provider takes you through a lengthy implementation plan. Time is money! But the timeline for getting up and running on new waste management software can vary widely between solutions.
Some can be implemented in days, while others may take months before going live😴. (That’s a headache you don’t need). So carefully assess timeframes and what’s involved in the implementation process when comparing options. Consider things like data migration, training, and testing. And if phased rollouts will be supported (if needed).
You’ll also want to make sure that you can get support to customise the solution to flex and adapt to meet your needs. This was key for Andrew Goddard at Thetford International; “The BigChange solution is very flexible and adaptable and we were able to tailor it to meet our needs.”
Bottom line: The sooner your teams get up and running, the faster you will realise ROI. So prioritise solutions that provide support and implementation resources and have a track record of onboarding customers swiftly.
A drawn-out or complex implementation period can significantly delay realising the software’s operational benefits. Not to mention frustrate everyone involved.
#5: Customer support options—support response times and resources 💁♀️
No one wants software with bad customer support. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting days for a response. Especially when the tech powers your entire operations.😩 How do you make sure this doesn’t happen? Look for solutions that provide multiple support channels like phone, email, live chat, and ticketing systems.
Ask about average response times to work out how quickly you can expect issues to be addressed. Documentation libraries, training resources, and community forums are also super helpful.
Prioritise solutions with strong customer service track records and 24-hour support if possible.
Having responsive, knowledgeable experts on hand when you need them to troubleshoot problems and answer questions is invaluable, especially when getting started.
Customer support has been critical for Serious Waste over the years; “BigChange has been an integral piece of the puzzle that has been Serious’ journey over the last few years,” says MD Jeremy Proctor. “We experienced good levels of growth before being impacted by Covid, and with the support of BigChange, we have bounced back from this and are stronger than before.”
Don’t wait until after purchasing to assess the support ecosystem—vet it upfront
#6: Security and compliance—data protection should be a top priority 🔐
You need to understand security and data protection when choosing waste management software—since these systems house highly sensitive operational and customer data. Prioritise solutions with robust encryption, role-based access controls, frequent backups, and other protections.
This was key for MW Waste who found that security and compliance were absolutely critical as they scaled; “We’ve seen a big increase in demand recently as a result of the tightening up of legislation and we realised we needed to find a system that would help us manage that demand and allow us to expand.”
So check what certifications and compliance standards the software adheres to (e.g. ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA) to understand how your data will be safeguarded. 🔐And look for features like single sign-on, two-factor authentication, and audit logging to further strengthen security.
For instance, you could ask potential vendors detailed questions about their security measures and protocols, like; Can they provide assurances around avoiding breaches? Do they conduct frequent external security audits?
For waste management firms, protecting customer data is also critical for retaining accounts. Don’t leave security as an afterthought in this decision process—let it be a guiding factor to prevent disasters down the line.
#7: Costs: upfront costs, ongoing fees, pricing models 💰
Cost is (obviously) a key consideration when choosing software. We recommend comparing both upfront costs like licenses and setup fees as well as ongoing expenses like monthly subscriptions, support fees, and maintenance charges.
Why? Because some solutions charge per user, while others base fees on metrics like the number of trucks or routes. Also, look for pricing transparency from potential vendors. For large operations, enterprise solutions with customised pricing may be required.
Then weigh the value delivered against total cost. But don’t stop there. It’s also really important to consider the ROI. Some waste software providers, like BigChange, find that for every £1 invested in the tech, businesses experience a £5 business benefit. That’s a 400% return on investment.🤑
As just one example, MW Waste found this to be true; “The real surprise was the savings. We reckon it is going to save us a fortune over time and we’re already saving around £50,000 a year,” said MD Keith Chadwick, “The elimination of paperwork administration, the improved utilisation of resources, accurate invoicing and fuel savings are the most obvious benefits of the system,”
Choosing the best waste management software
In the end, running a waste management business is about empowering your team to do their best work. You give them the best tech, schedule jobs efficiently, work with them on their bandwidth— and then watch them do their part to fit in more jobs, satisfy clients, and enjoy it along the way.
To choose the best tech, grab a copy of our checklist, and go through them one by one.
Or reach out to us and let us walk you through everything you need to know.
To sum up, the right software isn’t just a tool — it’s an investment in your operation’s potential. By taking an informed, thorough approach, you ensure the solution you choose isn’t just good for today, but great for tomorrow and the years to come.
SIGN UP FOR BIGCHANGE NEWS AND RESOURCES
By clicking ‘Subscribe’ you confirm you are happy to receive regular email newsletters from BigChange. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time.