Best Practices, Feature, Operations, V6I2

Software Organization for Sheds

Using a software package to organize your shed business can help reduce paperwork and errors. (Photo courtesy of Zan on Unsplash)

If you’re trying to run your shed business the old-fashioned way with purchase orders and other random notes written on scraps of paper encased in a sheet protector that follow a job around the warehouse, stop it. There is a better way. 

Lost information, inventory that disappears, and orders that go over budget are signs that you need a software package to run your business. From customer relationship management (CRM) and 3D configurators to project management and inventory control, there’s a software for that. And the benefits are out of this world.


Reduction of paperwork and errors—If you’re constantly tracking down sticky notes that lost their sticky or double-checking addresses for lost delivery drivers, a software package can make those nightmare situations a thing of the past. 

Mobility—The 1980s business person had to go to the office every day. After all, that’s where everything was. Today, you can run a business from a coffee shop, road trip, or by the side of a lake because the fish are biting. If you want more freedom in your life, consider putting your business in a database that can go with you in your pocket.

Streamlines communication—If you want your team members all on the same page, without weekly meetings and lengthy conference calls, a project management software package is the answer to your dreams. 

From the time the sales rep inputs a client’s information until you deliver the building, everything is documented in the same place, accessible to all. Since everyone on your team has access to the same data, errors are few.

Less time with customers—A 3D configurator lets a customer design and order a building from the comfort of their easy chair. Some programs even take their payment, making the sale without any time investment from a human being. 


If you’re convinced you need digital help keeping your shed business running smoothly, it’s important you get all the information you need before signing on the dotted line. 

First, ask your team members what they would like a software package to do for them. Then, shop for those features. It might help to make a checklist so when you’re speaking with different developers you’re comparing apples with apples.

For instance, if your team wants to sell more upgrades like windows, workbenches, or cupolas, ask if the software includes a 3D configurator. If you need help keeping a finger on your inventory, ask if it tracks inventory. 

What is your background?

Some software developers have a background in the shed industry. Jason Graber, CEO and founder of Shed Suite, worked for 12 years in the business before developing his software. Robert Oxley, PhD, owner and visionary of the Shed App, started working for a shed business right out of high school. These men bring an understanding of the industry to their product that other developers don’t have. 

However, Russ Whitney, CEO and co-founder of The Idea Room, has never worked in the shed industry. He worked for Microsoft before developing ShedView, but he thinks that gives him a different perspective.

“We see things others don’t see,” he says.  “And we ask ourselves how we can make this process easy and fun for anyone to use.” 

Do I need a website or an updated one?

If you’re running your business from a Facebook page, have an old website, or have no online presence at all, this is an important question. 

“The ShedView configurator can act as your website,” says Whitney, “or be plugged into an existing one.”

Will this package work offline?

Many shed manufacturers don’t want to have access to the internet in their offices, but many of the programs are cloud-based and require at least limited access to the internet. If you’re concerned about offline capabilities, ask if the software works offline or can be downloaded onto your desktop. 

“Our Amish customers have the 3D configurator set up to generate an email to fax which prints out a paper copy in their office,” says Whitney.

Is the package mobile-friendly?

If you want the freedom to converse with a sales lead while watching your kid’s ballgame, you want a mobile-friendly software. Mobility allows team members with large sales lots to walk with customers and offer immediate assistance from their software loaded tablets. And delivery drivers can access the platform from the road.

Is your package customizable?

Some software programs come with so many bells and whistles a non-techy person could get overwhelmed. Or, maybe you don’t see the sense in paying for something that takes care of your inventory when you already have that covered. Ask if the developer can tailor his product to meet your needs.

“No two customers are using the same version of our product,” says Colin Dexter, owner of Sound Data Solutions and developer of Sheds software, “because it’s completely customizable. This allows the program to grow and evolve with the business.”

What is the cost versus value of the package?

If you think that a software package is a big investment, you’re right. But consider the value behind that cost. Ask the developer for case studies that show the return on investment for those clients who use their products.

“We have companies on our platform that are fulfilling 50 percent more orders with a third of the staff they used to have,” says Oxley. “Going from a $2 million a year company to a $5 million a year without having to hire more help in your office is a fairly straightforward value proposition.”

How much training and support do you provide?

Not tech-savvy? Ask your software rep what kind of training they offer on their product and how much support comes with the package that interests you. 

Do they walk you through the process step by step? Refer you to online videos? How will you contact them? You obviously don’t want to have to fill out a form on their website and wait three to five business days for a response. 

“Our clients get free support,” says Dexter, “and are given my cell phone number.”

Is your system reliable?

Nothing is more frustrating than waiting on a web page to load. If you’re spending minutes for a page to refresh, that’s too long. But once your software database grows, what does that mean for your response time? That’s an important question to ask.

“As you’re researching software options,” says Oxley, “ask about the failure points and what solutions and remedies are available. And keep your expectations realistic with the understanding that even Google has the occasional hiccup.”

How do you protect my data?

Cybersecurity is a hot topic. You want to assure your customers that their information is secure. And you want that reassurance as well. 

“Ask your software rep how they protect your data, where they host the application, if they use an encrypted technology, and if their security certificates are up-to-date,” says Graber.

Will your software integrate with third-party apps?

If you’re happy with your current CRM, or any other kind of software package, ask if the two integrate. This is particularly important if you’re hoping to get everything stored in the same database and make it available for everyone from sales team members to delivery drivers.

Can you provide referrals?

Would you hire a new employee without asking for references? Of course not. Ask for references from your software rep, too. Don’t settle on reading Google reviews or testimonials on their website. They should be willing to give you the contact information of happy customers.

What is your vision for the future?

Technology evolves daily, and so do digital products when their developers want to stay current in the industry and meet the needs of their customers. Graber says to ask the developer what his vision is for the future of the product. 

“If his answer for five years is the same as it is today, then it’s a no-go,” he says. 

Also, if there are things you might want to incorporate into your business model in the future, like a 3D configurator or delivery app, you want to know this company is going to grow with you.

If after a reasonable time I’m not happy, what’s involved in transferring my data to another program?

No business wants to admit that their product isn’t for everyone. But sometimes that happens. The software needs to be intuitive for the user or the user will lapse back into his old paper-and-pencil habits. If you purchase a product you’re not happy with, ask what happens next.

While there’s some value in doing things the way you’ve always done them, there’s no value in holding onto old tools when there are new and improved ones on the market. After all, would you rather use a crosscut saw to clear your land or a chainsaw? If you said chainsaw, you know that subscribing to a software service for your shed business is the right thing to do.

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