20 September 2023

5 Ways to Reduce The Amount of Time You Spend on Farm Admin

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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 

You can also book in a free demo of any of our farm soft­ware here.