The opportunities that are available for farmers to use new and innovative technologies to improve their operations are both exciting and, at times, daunting. There are many options available to producers, with an enormous range of equipment and software packages on offer.
The right software can be a powerful tool for a wool or lamb producer. The ability to gather and store data, then generate reports from that data that can assist greatly with decision making and streamlining on farm operations. Before you purchase any farming software, think about what you want the software to do for you. Consider the information you wish to collect and how you want to utilise the information in your operation.
Things to consider
- Ease of data input.
- Method of data entry – Manual and EID compatible?
- Ease of generating suitable reports.
- How are you going to use the information?
- Will you use the information?
- Is the program formatted to suit your information and enterprise/s?
- Is the program compatible with other software, hardware and equipment that you are currently using or are considering purchasing?
- Will the software allow you to share information with organisations you currently work with in a straight forward manner (ie. LAMBPLAN, NLIS Database, QA Programs)?
- Are you comfortable with the program and will you use it regularly?
A good method of summarising your requirements of a software package is by answering the following questions about your enterprise and how you work. You can then apply the information to the software package you are considering purchasing to assess whether it will actually fill your needs:
- Decisions – understand what decisions you make in your enterprise, why and where – eg. In yard decisions versus in office decisions.
- Information – you can't make a decision unless you have the required information, so based on your key decisions, what information do you require?
- Reports – this is where your information comes from. What do the reports need to look like? Does the system give you the reports you need?
- Data – Data fills the reports. Ensure that the software has the ability to capture and report on the data you need to make the decisions crucial to your business.
The majority of software companies will give you free demonstration discs on request, or you may be able to download a demonstration copy from the internet. This allows you to 'try before you buy'. Test any software package thoroughly before purchase to ensure that it will meet your requirements and is a program you are comfortable using.
Remember that software packages are only as powerful as the operator using them and the level of accuracy of information that has been inputted into the system. The initial set up of the package may take some time in order to use the package to its full potential. Once this is done, however, the analysis of this data, made possible by the right software package, can impact significantly on your business and should help clarify some of those difficult on-farm decisions.
Plan your system
The EID system that will suit your enterprise may be very different to that of your neighbours, or the one that someone is trying to sell you. For many producers, the use of a contractor to undertake major and or irregular tasks will be a much better investment than purchasing equipment that will sit unused for 11 months of the year.
Knowing your needs, and understanding the various equipment components will ensure that your system is efficient, and cost effective.