Truck by day, lighting fires by night...any time for the books?


Article by Jack Hayes and Michelle Ng

For many growers at this time of year there is so much on the go. Another 10 or 15ml of rain and you need to put the bar in the ground and start turning the wheels. Fertiliser has been ordered, but not all collected. Seeding gear is serviced, but not hooked up. Paddocks are being prepared, casual staff are being on-boarded, and the kids are even home for school holidays.

The day-to-day management of the farm business is front of mind. However, this needs to be balanced with financial management and even more importantly your family time - kids only have so many Easter breaks back at home. All too often important business decisions are made at this time of the year and they are sometimes inadvertently rushed because growers have so many balls in the air. Does this sound familiar to you? If it does, don't do the same thing next month, or even next season. Consider your day/week/month, locate the distractions or blockages, and identify a business function that can be easily resourced by someone other than you.

One of the easily resourced business functions to free up time we are seeing many growers consider is bookkeeping. Whether growers are looking at the process to simply streamline it, or completely outsourcing it all together. It is definitely a new trend of thinking across the wheatbelt.

Bookkeeping is something which businesses in the Big Smoke have been outsourcing for years. With the introduction of GST there was an increase of bookkeepers either employed in house or contracted for their services. With the ever increasing reporting of information required by the government in the last few years, take single touch payroll as an example, bookkeepers demand is increasing once again.

Farming businesses though, have traditionally kept their bookkeeping function in house, or have looked to their accountant to take care part of it. This was because of;

  • Physical documentation such as bank statements, or cheque books were needed to process a farm's books and with that, the tyranny of distance made it non economical for bookkeepers to travel to prepare accounts on site.
  • Knowledgeable bookkeepers, especially those specialising in farming, that is, those that know the difference between a hydraulic ram and one with four legs, were few and far between.
  • Software accounting programs were based on the computer desktop which suited poor internet connections in the bush.

Traditionally a farm's scale was comparatively small, reporting was less onerous, and growers time required to prepare the books was possibly more available.

In the growers environment, have many of these factors changed in the last few years? Arguably, the internet is still frustratingly improving ever so slowly, but on balance, there has been real shifts in farm finances, how growers operate, and software used in their businesses. It is a fair statement to make, that bookkeepers, accelerated by technology and government legislation changes, are becoming more relevant to growers.

In the bookkeepers world, they are increasingly becoming more and more sophisticated. This is arguably driven by government reporting requirements, government registration requirements, expectations of reporting standards by business owners, but also the plethora of technology hitting their space. Most of this technology is time-saving focussed cloud based software. Business owners interact more efficiently with bookkeepers by using such software, and the bookkeeper can work remotely as they please. Gone are the days where any old person could put together someone's books by mastering a couple of accounting programs such as MYOB or Quicken. Now there are 6 or so different platforms, apps coming out their ears, all with business owners expecting more accurate and timely information. Let alone the ATO who not only wants a business to report quarterly GST, but also single touch payroll, fuel tax credits, pay as you go withholding, JobKeeper, and employee superannuation. A bookkeeper is expected to be a highly skilled individual when compared to a decade ago.

If you find yourself wanting more time with the kids over Easter next year, not spending hours in the office or just want less stress, start by taking a look at your bookkeeping processes and consider how to streamline them or contact our Bookkeeping team to ensure the process is as streamlined as possible. You may even value your time more than this and engage Byfields Bookkeeping division to take care of your books. They have a direct link to your Accountant and are highly skilled and cost effective.

Next Step

To discuss this article further, we encourage you to contact our Bookkeeping team on (08) 6274 6400.


Disclaimer: This content provides general information only, current at the time of production. Any advice in it has been prepared without taking into account your personal circumstances. You should seek professional advice before acting on any material.

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