In today’s busy world, every business would be lost without the assistance of technology to aid their day to day operations.  Where would we all be without the everyday use of apps on our mobile phones and tablets?  Apps have become the new normal as they are mobile friendly and quickly accessible on a variety of devices.  From simple applications such as notes and calendars to bespoke software systems, every industry utilises some form of app technology to ensure their business operations continue to run smoothly.  

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Photo by Boitumelo Phetla / Unsplash

We asked some of our funeral director colleagues working in the industry - What are the apps that you would be lost without?  Which apps do you use on a daily basis?  Along with information provided by other associates within the funeral industry, we have compiled the top apps that every funeral director should be using in 2021.

Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive


As with most modern businesses, the use of Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive has become an integral part of day to day operations in most funeral directors.  In today’s electronic world, the ability to store and share a variety of documents online has allowed business operations to be streamlined, removing the old-fashioned necessity of having to print and store hundreds of paper documents in the office.  An advantage of using these cloud based apps is that they can be accessed on a variety of platforms or devices from anywhere in the world.  All of these systems have different tiered memberships depending on the individual storage requirements and the needs of the business.  OneDrive links in with all of the Microsoft products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint Etc) and is better priced for many smaller businesses, whereas Dropbox is often preferred by funeral directors as they focus on syncing and backing up files from a variety of operating systems.  Dropbox holds the advantage over OneDrive and Google Drive in terms of faster upload speeds but often funeral directors will use a variety of these apps in conjunction with one another.


Docusign and Adobe sign


The ability to sign legal documents electronically has been one of the most significant upgrades for businesses in recent years.  Apps such as Docusign and AdobeSign have allowed for agreements to be signed digitally without the old fashioned, time consuming process of signing documentation face to face.  E-signatures have been particularly useful in assisting the funeral industry.  Quite often family members of the deceased are geographically located in very different places, but agreements and important decisions regarding the funeral planning can be swiftly reached using these electronic signing apps.  Adobe Sign is part of the Adobe Document cloud suite of services which like Docusign, also offers this service using a browser or mobile device.  Docusign believes that using their technology allows for business to be done faster, greener, with less risk and lower costs.  As consumers are often looking for quicker and increasingly greener alternatives to the paper-based administration of old, these apps are a must have for every modern funeral director.


CamScanner

CamScanner is an incredibly useful app for individuals and businesses.  The app allows the user to scan paper documents through their mobile telephone or device, creating a high definition PDF electronic document.  The app includes features such as autotrim and will automatically lighten the photo, producing a professional PDF scanned document that can be easily shared online. The app also provides a PDF processing tool to support file merging, splitting, compressing, annotating, adding signatures / watermarks and the editing of text in files in the PDF.  The app also includes OCR character recognition as part of its scanning facility.  Using the text recognition feature, long text in a scanned image can be converted to text instantaneously to allow editing of the document prior to the PDF conversion, with more than 40 languages recognised by the app.  CamScanner provides an essential mobile service which when used in conjunction with the other signing apps mentioned above, can create huge efficiency savings for busy funeral directors.


Youtube, Vimeo, Zoom, Facebook and Instagram Live.


During 2020 we witnessed the devastating Covid-19 pandemic which affected every country, particularly impacting the funeral industry.  In addition to the increased number of deaths in 2020 outside of the normal seasonal spikes, social distancing and limitations on attendees have significantly impacted the way in which funerals and other events are conducted.  To combat the limitations on numbers that are allowed to attend funeral services during the pandemic, some funeral directors have begun to use funeral streaming apps such as Livestream by Vimeo or YouTube.  With restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for funerals to be webcast has increased significantly throughout 2020.  By streaming the webcast online, many more relatives have been able to access the service remotely.  For this reason, the streaming of a funeral has become increasingly popular with families to offer friends and family that cannot physically attend on the day, to still be a part of the proceedings.


Whilst there are a number of options available to funeral directors for these webcasts, the most popular apps used are Livestream by Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram Live.  YouTube Live is often considered to be the best platform to livestream services as they allow the funeral director to capture, save and share the memorial service.  However, Zoom is also a great app for live funeral webcasts as it offers a different perspective to the other streaming services.  Whilst the other streaming apps are more of a simple video visual, Zoom allows multiple people to join the same virtual video and voice call, creating a cohesive sense of community, akin to a live service.  Music streaming apps such as Spotify and Apple Music also play an integral role in ensuring the family’s music requests are met by the funeral directors at their loved one’s service.


There are a number of funeral streaming companies that provide a complete solution in conjunction with funeral directors should they prefer to outsource the webcast to a third party.  There is more information on these companies in our blog post on the future of the UK funeral industry.

Address books, Notes, Reminders and Calendars


There are many basic apps available to all funeral directors that are used many times a day.  Whilst they may seemingly be obvious choices, they are invaluable apps to ensure the smooth running of their operations. These include:


Address books - to capture and update the client and their family’s information.  It is also used to capture the important details of the funeral service itself, including the addresses for family pick up en route to the funeral and drop offs afterwards.

Notes -  As above, to capture important information as required - used similarly to an electronic post-it note when required!

Calendars and Reminders - These apps are used to highlight important dates surrounding the funeral and create prompts for both the directors and their staff members.  These can include prompts for payments, to highlight cut off dates for decisions regarding the funeral or any others related to events on the day of the service.

Obit

Obit is a cloud-based web app offering a complete solution for modern funeral directors.  It is a funeral management software programme that features many of the functions provided by the essential apps listed above, pulled together in one efficient system.  Obit allows the user to capture the client family’s complete details with the ability to add in additional notes, prompts and scheduled reminders for the staff too.

Some of the features that are specific to the Obit app include:


Round the clock accessibility - As it is a cloud-based app, it is available to funeral directors twenty four hours a day, seven days a week allowing them to deal with new enquiries outside of the confines of their office be that when remote working or out in the community.  All they need to do when an out of hours call is received is to put the client on handsfree and use the Obit app on their mobile phone to capture all of their details.  Funeral directors remain connected to their business wherever they are, reducing admin time and creating efficiency savings.

Funeral Specific Storage - We mentioned how useful the cloud storage apps were but with Obit a funeral director has that functionality tied directly to a particular funeral.  If they’re visiting a grave where a headstone will later be added, it’s often useful to take a picture of the plot to help them to find it later.  This can be done within the app, with Obit opening the camera allowing a quick upload of the photo to the client’s funeral information.  Users of Obit can also quickly add any important documents they receive, such as the death certificate for their client and it will immediately become accessible to all staff members.

Notifications - Obit includes an advanced notification system so that the relevant staff members are always on top of what’s happening.  Just a quick glance of their mobile and they can catch up with everything that has been happening back in the office in their absence.

With other key features such as the ability to generate invoices that integrate with different back office finance systems, Obit is a complete solution and considered by many to be the best funeral home software for the modern funeral home.

These are just a few of the apps that we consider must haves for the funeralcare industry in 2021. The funeral sector must continue to evolve, modernising their ways of working to fit the needs of their clientele.  Are there any other essential apps that you feel should be on this list?  Let us know in the comments below.