There are few farmers more knowledgeable of Practical Systems’ Cashbooks program than Wellington grazier and Cashbooks trainer, Lachlan Campbell.
While he acknowledges that the Advanced CashbookPlus is well suited to those who have a fundamental understanding of basic accounting concepts, he says that getting educated about the program can be one of the most powerful achievements in a farming business.
Mr Campbell and his wife, Teena, farm 6880 hectares of grazing country at “Bonada”, Wellington, in conjunction with Mr Campbell’s brother and sister-in-law.
Mr Campbell started using Cashbooks five years ago and through his role as a business coach for agricultural consulting firm, PrincipleFocus, he has gone on to train more than 50 farm business owners to use Cashbooks, on a one-on-one basis.
“It’s an all-encompassing program that monitors and manages your balance sheet, and monitors asset performance,” he said.
“It gives you very clear indicators through KPIs (key performance indicators) and return on equity.
“It produces the most comprehensive, complete and timely reports I ever get and I know where my business is at a keystroke.”
Mr Campbell said anything worthwhile involved hard work and people needed to be prepared to put time into learning how to use the program, so they could accurately monitor the performance of their farming business.
When not training farming families about how to use Cashbooks, Mr Campbell works on the family’s large-scale grazing property, where they run a sheep and cattle breeding and trading operation.
At Allied Beef, accurate information is crucial for benchmarking and the traceability of our production systems, with a view to improving the supply chain going forward.
We place cattle on property partners’ properties, which enables them to specialise on their own properties to maximise production while providing cattle for premium markets.
Allied Beef require property partners to maintain animal treatment records and ideally we want regular weighing intervals, all weight gains and information on the performance of cattle whilst they are backgrounded on a property. We also like dispatch data so we can see what cattle have been sent to various markets and their performance history when they are dispatched.
It is crucial we supply our cattle customers with the information generated from Stockbook, to build their knowledge in respect to the cattle’s treatments and production prior to them receiving them. We believe this is very important from a market relationship perspective.
Stockbook has the ability to easily analyse and record information. You could record information manually but it is a lot slower and more time-consuming process and can potentially lead to errors.
The capacity for Stockbook to make business decisions improves over time, through regular benchmarking and accumulation of data. A single set of data by itself is a bit irrelevant. However, when combined with data from a number of other properties or a number of different years within one property, then you start getting some very meaningful comparisons.
Collecting data over time enables you to measure the performance of cattle given the management system or even measure the effect of changes to the management systems when they are implemented. To my mind, Stockbook is the only way that you can make an educated decision in regard to whether strategy A is better than strategy B: through the comparison of data over a period time and benchmarking.
I think Stockbook has merit on two major fronts. Firstly, from a customer relationship point of view it improves the transfer of cattle information through the supply chain and marketplace. Secondly, it is also even more useful from a farm operation point of view, through benchmarking.
Cashbook Plus! saves time and gives me greater ‘peace of mind’ that the accounting books are accurate. The biggest time saving is running the BAS report directly out of the program. Being able to set up the shearing pays more efficiently is a great benefit to my business.
I like using Stockbook because of its user friendliness. Unlike other farm software programs, Stockbook has a logical and methodical approach to data input. The more data you can build up on your sheep or cattle, the more information you can supply to clients. It is just a matter of importing or exporting data by the press of a button.
Quality assurance audits have become a breeze since we started using Farmbook. We put purchases in as soon as they come onto the property, and we do the stock movements every week and put in treatments at the same time. I now do the book-keeping for four properties in the time it used to take to do one.