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FSJ editor writes about Eulogica

FSJ

Brian Parsons, editor of the Funeral Service Journal has been invited to F. A. Albin & Sons in Bermondsey, London, to see the Eulogica bespoke funeral programme in action. He wrote this article about the changes which have taken place at this well-known funeral home.

The unusual sounding name – Eulogica – is created from two keywords, Logic and – of course - Eulogy! Designed to help with the administration of funerals, this computer programme for funeral directors from Eulogica Ltd is a user-friendly and highly sophisticated programme bearing all the hallmarks of the logical mind.

Eulogica Ltd have had a presence in this country since 2003 and their first priority was to research the needs of funeral directors. Although Eulogica’s directors have had considerable experience of the funeral industry in Europe, the decision to form a user group of 5 to 10 professionals in this country was a wise move. Through discussion and interviews over the last two years they have developed a bespoke software system which can be configured to meet the demands of any funeral directing business.

One of director Gary Bakke's initial contacts was Barry Albin of F. A. Albin & Sons in Bermondsey. Barry was willing to become involved with a view to introducing a new system to manage the funeral operations of his head office and four branches. He needed an easy to use system for booking funerals along with a facility to process information and generate documents and reports. But it had to be adapted to the company’s traditions as well as be sufficiently flexible to meet the increasingly varied request from clients. By the autumn of 2005 the system had been installed at the head office. The branches were connected by broadband, and all staff were trained in its application before the system went ‘live’ in November.

In March, FSJ’s editor was invited to Bermondsey to see the Eulogica bespoke funeral programme in action. This article gives only an overview of the system’s capability as it has been configured for Albin’s; readers interested in learning more about its potential are invited to contact Eulogica Ltd for a demonstration.

Barry says “the Eulogica software certainly offers a degree of customisation and an easy learning curve that we have not seen anywhere else. I am no expert with computers myself, but my son Simon is very good with this and has been enthusiastically involved.” While the main function of software for a funeral business is through acting as a powerful database for funeral records, from accessing this system one is immediately introduced to it’s versatility. Once inside, the screen soon fills with the icons indicating the software’s range of tools.

A key function is the diary which shows the timings and a basic overview of the details of all funerals, along with other staff movements, such as the hire of bearers, trips to a consulate, staff holidays, etc. Each funeral arranger can easily access this information and at a glance can see all commitments thereby giving them the freedom to work out availability and to make bookings directly onto the system. A name and basic timings can be entered by the funeral arrangers and then when the client has left the office the remaining details can be inputted.

F. A. Albins and Sons Ltd

F. A. Albins and Sons Ltd is one of the funeral companies to be involved with the development of Eulogica.

A valuable feature of the software is that it possesses a vast file of funeral related information, adapted to Albins’ needs in this case. Full details of cemeteries, crematoria and hospitals is accessible alongside local information such as ministers, churches, organists, newspapers, florists, musicians, suppliers, charities, etc. In addition, photos of churches, maps and other graphics can be accessed. A product file with coffins, caskets, vehicles and other services is also maintained. Not only can this be accessed at the time of funeral (and amended to ensure it is kept up-to-date), but it can also be utilised when inputting the details of a funeral arrangement. As an overview of the facility, all client and deceased-related information is entered into boxes or ‘fields’. Their layout has been designed to suit Albins’ traditions. To assist with the inputting of information, funeral arrangers can simply move icons, such as a hearse or a coffin, to ‘build’ the arrangement. Jackie Costin, the main funeral arranger at Albins, says “I was a bit sceptical at first, but then I discovered the system is so easy to use.”

When the information has been entered and checked, it can be drawn from the system on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. For example, details of the coffin, fittings and lining, nameplate and viewing arrangements can be printed off for those in the coffin workshop. Similarly, for the embalmer, only information relating to the embalming and preparation of the deceased along with dressing is made available to the embalmer. A letter to the minister can be immediately emailed or printed out for posting. All documents have been designed according to the company style and preferences. There is also a facility to handle donation payments.

After all details have been entered a task list provides a helpful reminder to order cremation documentation, book the minister, send off cremation documentation, etc. The task list reflects the company’s way of working, and when each task is completed, the staff signature, date and time is recorded. At a glance the progress of a funeral can be monitored.

After the funeral the account can be generated along with a covering letter. Payments can then be recorded or the system used to produce reminder letters for outstanding accounts. Lastly, a management analysis tool enables the financial director to create a large range of financial reports. Jonathan Fletcher, responsible for finance and operations at F A Albins, continues; ”This software will revolutionise the way that I work with financial management and create reports. It is very easy to configure the analysis part, and to create exactly the reports I want”.

Like most computer systems, access is only available by the member of staff entering a username and password.

The introduction of the system necessitated all Albin staff to be trained, and Eulogica Ltd has provided group training sessions in addition to one-to-one support. Eulogica also provide a telephone advice service.

For Barry Albin and his staff the introduction of this system has been of considerable assistance in helping to manage the ever-increasing number of funerals. Many have a complex dimension with requests that regularly fall outside the definition of average. Eulogica have listened to feedback from the users at Albin’s and risen to the challenge by making a number of amendments. Such are the idiosyncratic needs of Albin clients that under ‘funeral vehicles’ a boat is included! In this way the programme lives up to its name of being ‘bespoke funeral software.’

In short, this is an impressive system. But see for yourself; ask Eulogica Ltd for a demonstration!