Spending Too Much Time In The Farm Office? This May Help!
A recent study carried out by ourselves amongst 242 British farmers reveals that a huge 74% of British farmers have seen an increase in farm admin over the past 3 years and it is not looking to abate any time soon.
Nearly half of all respondents (48%), report spending 5 – 10 hours every week on farm administration, this equates to up to 40 hours every month. There is also a substantial group of farmers (18%) who spend over 15 hours every week doing farm admin which includes accounts and all record keeping. That is the equivalent to a permanent part-time member of staff solely carrying out admin tasks for the farm.
We wanted to share our top 5 tips to help ease this pressure for farmers so you can focus on the practical aspects of running your businesses.
What Can Farmers Do To Reduce Their Time In The Farm Office?
- Stop duplicating data
There is so much data that needs to be recorded, from animal births to medicine treatments. It may be that you are having to duplicate the recording of data such as purchasing of cattle both in your accounts and then separately with BCMS for example or perhaps you are writing down medicine usage in a notebook and then having to calculate the impact on your gross margin using a homemade enterprise costing spreadsheet. Choosing one digital place to record all your data that links with all areas of your farm including BCMS, HMRC and any weighing or ID equipment will save hours of inputting and recording the same data. Time to wave goodbye to those various spreadsheets and notebooks! Your future-self will thank you, especially when it comes to assurance scheme assessments and the like when everything will be accessible in one central place.
- Update wherever you are
If you don’t already, it may be worth thinking about getting access to your records on your Smartphone or tablet via a farm management app. This will allow you to view and update your farm’s data as events occur, instead of perhaps writing something on paper to later remember to update on the PC when you are finally back in the office. This not only helps save valuable time but also helps prevent errors. Many farm management programs now have the option of storing data in the cloud which means data can be accessed by all team members wherever they are. Our apps also work offline so you don’t need to worry about intermittent signal when looking to view your data out and about on the farm.
- One place for paperwork
Lots of people find they waste a lot of time trying to find the right invoice or receipt. It is a good idea to have a single labelled pocket folder or tray where all receipts are put by anyone on the farm that receives them. You can also have a separate folder or tray for invoices to be paid. This will make things a lot easier when doing the bookkeeping and you’ll spend less time searching around or chasing people to find out where they put that bit of paper! Or you can look at software providers that store your invoices digitally alongside the Accounts entry for easy access at any time. Our electronic invoice storage module does just that and can save hours of faffing with paperwork, especially at year-end when working with your accountant.
- Automate your processes
There are certain admin tasks that may be repeated every month or quarter, for example, paying standing orders or carrying out bank reconciliation. Where you can, see if you can automate any of these processes. For example, there are Accounts programs that allow you to pull in your electronic bank statements and it will help automatically match up transactions to make arduous bank reconciliation a lot quicker. TOTAL2 accounts allows you to easily transfer in all your transactions from your bank account which can then be automatically matched up to sales and purchases you’ve entered into the accounts software. This can save hours of time each month when doing bank rec.
- Little and often
Farm admin often falls to the bottom of the pile in terms of priorities which means it can be even more stressful and time consuming at the times when up-to-date records are needed such as VAT period end or assurance scheme audits. It is a good idea to schedule in an afternoon each week (or whenever you need to!) to process any outstanding payments and ensure all records of new farm activities that week have accurately been recorded. It can save a lot of time and headaches when events and data are fresh in your mind.
When it comes to emails, it may be a good idea to try using the RAF method Read + Action + File your emails if the action take less than 5 minutes. If the action will take longer, you can flag it a certain colour and come back to it during a dedicated session at the end of the day when you can action any of the important tasks that take a bit longer. This prevents your day being regularly interrupted by replying to emails and gives you a set time you know you can reply. Setting up separate email folders for things such as ‘invoices’ ‘vets’ ‘livestock sales’ etc can be helpful to get your inbox nice and organised.
If you would like to find out more about how to reduce the amount of time spent on farm admin, feel free to give one of our friendly staff a call on 01844 213003 or email us , we’d love to discuss our various solutions with you.