What is Agriculture and Farm Accounting Software?
Farms, ranches and other agricultural entities have unique requirements that require more criteria than basic accounting programs. For example, perishable or livestock inventory must be tracked within agricultural accounting packages, including births, deaths, birtfh weights, and weaning weights. It should also be able to keep track of inventory in multiple units of measurement depending on the type of crop or commodity. Multiple farms can often be tracked within the same solutions package for larger-scale operations.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- The accounting software functionality important to those in the agriculture industry;
- How to evaluate aggriculture accounting software; and
- How to determine which type of accounting software best suits your type of business.
As well as the core ag modules like payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable, farm bookkeeping software may have some or all of the following features:
|Crop/Livestock Inventory Management||Agricultural software should track the additional data needed for farms and ranches, including seeds planted, fertilizers and chemicals used, livestock parents/birth weights, etc. This will in turn support PTI compliance and feed into the sales and grower accounting systems.|
|Warehouse Management||Farming accounting software should also manage the inventory for fertilizers, chemicals, seeds, heavy equipment, the receiving, pallet and case labeling, re-packing and pick ticket management.|
|Ag Ratio Analysis||Grower reports analyze the percentage of crops planted to yield produced, so you can price accordingly, identify best practices, and increase yields for future seasons.|
|Breeding & Growing Calendars||Agriculture is a highly seasonal industry, and so much depends on the time of year, the age of the animal or crop, and the products used to support its growth. A farming software solution may include a calendar to track actions like planting, fertilizing, spraying for pests, harvesting, gestation, births, weaning, etc.|
Evaluating Agriculture Accounting Programs
Agriculture-specific solutions should be able to handle the wide variety of agriculture costs. Providing crop break-even analysis in consideration of fertilizer, chemicals, seed, and rent on land by individual field, acre or bushel is crucial for a precise agricultural accounting resource. The appropriate solutions package will also come equipped with farm industry standard ratios to gauge financial efficiency with respect to the agriculture industry.
When evaluating agriculture and farm accounting software, buyers should consider the following:
- Does the system support agricultural inventory types?
- Are the appropriate industry standard ratios included in the software?
- How many different farm operations can the program support?
- Can the system forecast based on hypothetical environmental conditions?
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Before evaluating your options, you must determine what type of buyer you are. We’ve found that more than 90% of buyers fall into one of these three categories:
- Small business buyers. These small farms are on the verge of upgrading basic systems, like QuickBooks, to support more sophisticated agriculture-specific functions like forecasting, product management and ratio analysis. As ranches and agriculture entities reach a certain size and require advanced functionality to grow, businesses will need to upgrade their systems.
- Enterprise buyers. These buyers represent farms and agriculture organizations that need the functionality of a full enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite for a large entity. Seamless integration is usually more important than specific features; however, there is considerable differentiation in both of these areas, and buyers should examine both. Sage and Microsoft Dynamics are two of the largest vendors for ERP and offer sophisticated systems.
- Best-of-breed buyers. These buyers need stand-alone software solutions for specific functions. For instance, while agriculture organizations need systems for core functions like payroll, they also need programs with specific features for inventory management or crop/livestock ratio analysis. These buyers may seek a product that has deep functionality in one of these application areas rather than a full financial planning suite.
Blue Skies Accounting
Blue Skies Accounting is designed specifically to provide easy but thorough bookkeeping for agriculture producers. It takes a visual approach to accounting and integrates with Windows and Microsoft Office.
The system is ideal for a number of industries, especially those where cost accounting is important. Today, the system is used by small to mid-sized farms, ranches, labor contractors, nurseries, vineyards, general contractors and accountants and bookkeepers in a variety of fields. AgData easily handles large payroll, multiple companies and diverse cost centers. It can be networked, and its ease of use makes it a favorite teaching and live management tool on university farms.
Cost Accounting defines enterprises to match a grower’s selection of ranch, field, crop, variety, herd or management contract option. It also generated specific P&L statements for each enterprise. Labor costs are integrated automatically when payroll is used.
The core of Blue Skies Accounting includes General Ledger, Cost Accounting and Payroll, with GL and Payroll offered as stand alone. Option modules include AP, AR, Check Reconciliation, Budgeting, Labor Contractor Invoicing and more.
For businesses or the self-employed who are looking for a scalable, comprehensive financial management system that is simple to learn and to use, Blue Skies Accounting provides a unique fit.
Intacct Financials and Accounting System
Intacct is a Web-based financial accounting software system with a broad set of functionality for small to mid-sized businesses. Founded in 1999 in San Jose, California, Intacct now serves over 30,000 users. The system is meant for a wide variety of industries as a horizontal accounting system.
Intacct can support applications for core accounting, time and expenses, revenue management, project accounting, order and billing, purchasing, global consolidations, multi-currency management, and financial reporting.
Intacct is web-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and can be accessed on demand through a browser over the Internet. Oracle is the database for Intacct, while the applications and data are hosted in IBM e-business Hosting Centers. Disaster recovery functions are provided by Sungard.
BillQuick offers some of the most flexible time billing and accounting solutions on the market, both in terms of functionality and deployment. Available as a stand-alone solution, self-hosted or a cloud service, BillQuick offers comprehensive business accounting, project management and business intelligence in a system flexible enough to support a variety of industries, including construction, architecture, engineering, accounting, consulting, graphic and interior design and more.
Increase revenue by reducing your overhead with more accurate time tracking. That, with simplified billing and project accounting is available to professionals working from a PC, via the web or on a network. Exchange data via email, hand-held computers and smart phones. This deployment flexibility can support various smartphone platforms, including the iPhone, Blackberry and Android. The solution also comes with over 400 customizable report templates and more than 150 invoicing templates.
This flexibility extends to BillQuick’s integration with third-party accounting software, in which BillQuick complements a company’s existing accounting program. BillQuick has certified partnerships with Microsoft, Intuit, MYOB Australia and more to ensure that you can easily extract, customize and present accurate information.
This scalable, highly configurable software solution leads to better client communication, faster billing and, ultimately, lowered administration costs.
BQE Software has been in the business for 16 years, has over 300,000 users worldwide and is a 5 Star award-winner from the CPA Technology Advisor for the last seven years in a row. For a complete professional services solution complete with accounting and customer management functions, businesses should look into BillQuick.
Sage 300 ERP (formerly Sage ERP Accpac)
Sage 300 ERP (formerly Sage ERP Accpac) is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system that serves small and medium-sized businesses in professional services, financial services, the public sector, and other markets such as distribution and wholesale. Sage 300 ERP comes in three different versions: Sage 300 Standard, Advanced, and Premium ERP. These versions correspond with the scalability requirements of the customers, as defined by company size and the number of users.
Sage 300 ERP has applications for accounting, customer relationship and contact management, fixed asset management, human resources management, business intelligence and reporting, service management, EDI transaction management, and document management. Sage 300 ERP also offers multi-language, multi-location, and multi-currency capabilities. Other modules can be added as needed.
Sage 300 ERP accounting software is scalable and is designed as a multi-tiered architecture. It can run on Windows and Linux operating systems with Microsoft, Pervasive, or Oracle databases. Typically, the system is installed on-premises. Sage has a new cloud offering, Sage 300 Online, as a subscription service for a monthly fee, bundled with basic and premium modules.
This solution connects to the Sage Data Cloud, allowing users to connect to multiple mobile and web services; teams can increase productivity and efficiency regardless of what time it is or where they are located.
Microsoft Dynamics GP
Microsoft Dynamics GP is a financial accounting system for small to mid-sized businesses that has expanded to encompass a range of functionality increasingly consistent with a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite. The product has been extended by a large network of partners focused on a range of vertical markets. Microsoft Dynamics GP was originally developed by North Dakota-based Great Plains Software and was acquired by Microsoft in 2001. The latest version, Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010, was released in April 2010.
Microsoft Dynamics GP has applications for financial management, human resources management, manufacturing planning, supply chain management, field service, business intelligence, collaboration, compliance, and IT management. The Advanced Management edition contains additional features not found within the Business Essentials edition. There are also a la carte modules which can be purchased separately, along with hundreds of third-party applications from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) which can be added to the system to fit additional needs.
Dynamics GP leverages Microsoft’s Windows and .NET frameworks. Because Microsoft develops the Dynamics products, the resulting technical consistency is a significant benefit. The system can be deployed on-site or hosted for a monthly fee. The company and its partners provide benefits such as online training and support.
UNIT4 Coda Financials
UNIT4 Coda Financials is a financial accounting software package with core accounting and other capabilities. As a best-of-class system, it is designed to integrate with a mixture of specialized company software applications as business needs change. Coda Financials can serve a wide variety of industries.
Capabilities of Coda Financials include accounting, business intelligence, budgeting and forecasting, and expense management, along with additional modules and features. Miscellaneous other features include multiple languages and web services.
UNIT4 Coda Financials’ unique architecture allows the use of web services to connect best-of-class applications of all types to Coda Financials as a central hub on an as-needed basis, providing a customized and integrated experience. The server runs on Windows, Linux, Unix, or AS/400. Coda Financials is fully web browser enabled, enabling use of the application from a variety of different devices.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Microsoft Dynamics NAV is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite for mid-sized organizations. The system offers specialized functionality for manufacturing, distribution, government, retail, and other industries. The system was originally developed by Denmark-based Navision A/S until it was acquired by Microsoft in 2002.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers applications for financial management, human resources management, manufacturing, multiple and international sites, project management, sales and marketing, service management, supply chain management and business intelligence. The functionality is particularly strong in manufacturing and distribution. The system is known for being highly customizable and partners have developed a long list of industry-specific configurations to serve various vertical markets.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV deploys on the Windows operating system and Microsoft SQL Server, and is developed in the .NET framework, all of which are core Microsoft platform technologies. This offers customers a tightly integrated stack from infrastructure to application. The system is deployed on-site or hosted for an additional fee.
NetSuite is a business management software suite offered as a service that performs enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) functions. It is a horizontal package designed for an extensive range of industries. The NetSuite Financials system can integrate with a company’s back-office, sales, and service processes.
NetSuite Financials includes applications for financial accounting, financial reporting and analytics, payment management, order and billing management, supply chain management, and inventory management. Financial information through NetSuite can be accessed through a web browser or mobile device. The system undergoes automatic upgrades and comes with various customization options.
NetSuite is web-based and runs on a range of Internet browsers. It supports data export into IIF or CSV files. Data security is ensured through NetSuite’s data center and the built-in security controls of the suite itself.
Sage 100 Standard and Advanced ERP (formerly Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200)
Sage 100 ERP (formerly branded as Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200) is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) with between ten and two hundred fifty employees; it is typically recommended to companies with annual revenue between one million and $100 million.
Out of the box, Sage 100 ERP delivers comprehensive financial and operational functionality, including light manufacturing and strong inventory management. Visual Process Flows offer novice or advanced users a graphical interface that show the steps necessary to complete business processes. In addition, there are a large number of add-ons available for purchase that provide vertical industry functionality. Sage 100 ERP products to be used by a wide range of manufacturing, distribution, and services companies, and more granular verticals such as industrial supplies and services, building materials, and electronics.
Sage 100 ERP is designed to be compatible with Windows. Sage 100 Standard ERP was originally built on a Windows platform and is typically deployed on a small Windows network. Sage 100 Advanced and Premium ERP were built to be database-driven, and the premium edition uses Microsoft SQL Server.
Sage 100 ERP includes modules for core accounting, distribution, manufacturing, business intelligence, customer relationship management, HR, time and project management, e-business, and new cloud, web, and mobile apps designed for remote and field use to increase sales, provide a better customer experience, and get paid faster. Combined, they offer comprehensive functionality to support most business needs.
Sage 100 ERP supports remote access and nightly back-up operations. Automated disaster recovery services can restore the products in the event of unexpected damage. For additional customization not initially available, Sage Development Partners can supply product modifications upon request.
Sage 100 ERP also connects to the Sage Data Cloud, allowing companies to connect to multiple web and mobile services that help teams be more productive and efficient no matter where they are or what time it is.
Microsoft Dynamics AX
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is an ERP system for mid-size to large enterprises. It is the most robust, scalable, and functionally rich enterprise resource planning system in the Microsoft Dynamics family of products. The system was originally known as Axapta, owned by the Danish software company Damgaard. Damgaard later merged with Navision before Microsoft acquired Navision in 2002. It was later renamed to Microsoft Business Solutions Axapta, then Axapta 3.0, Dynamics AX 4.0 and Dynamics AX 2009. At the same time, Microsoft purchased Great Plains Software and obtained two more ERP packages, Great Plains and Solomon. Microsoft subsequently rebranded the four systems as Microsoft Dynamics.
Microsoft Dyanmics AX competes aggressively with other Tier 1 ERP software companies. It has particular strengths in manufacturing and distribution but is a functionally broad system, capable of serving buyers in most industries. Multi-language and multi-currency features make the system a popular option for companies looking to centralize operations in multiple locations across the world.
In addition to core accounting, Microsoft Dynamics AX offers complete functionality for inventory control, warehouse management, transportation management, demand and supply chain planning, material requirements planning, production management, quality assurance, product lifecycle management, asset management, and business intelligence. It relies entirely on Microsoft’s .Net technology. It is often installed on-premise, but can be hosted remotely if the customer would prefer an on-demand system accessible over the web.
Microsoft Dynamics AX can serve a wide range of markets, but has particular strength in manufacturing and distribution. Its industry-specific functionality meets the needs of discrete manufacturers in the high tech, electronics, metals, industrial machinery, aerospace, consumer products, and medical devices industries. It supports repetitive, make-to-order, make-to-stock, light assembly, and engineer-to-order manufacturing. Process manufacturers requiring automation of batches, formulas, and recipes also adopt Microsoft Dynamics AX. As a result, we recommend it very often to pharmaceutical, chemical, food, and beverage companies. It is a truly configurable and flexible system able to address the needs of just about any type of manufacturing firm.
In addition to manufacturing and distribution, Dynamics AX is also a popular choice within the retail industry. Microsoft has developed a version of AX for medium-sized merchants, Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail, that along with Microsoft RMS and Microsoft POS, are commonly evaluated retail software solutions.
Microsoft Dynamics AX is suitable for the companies whose size and functional requirements can justify it. We typically see it used by companies with at least $50 million in annual revenue (although occasionally a little less in unusual scenarios), 20 employees, 20 concurrent users, and expectations of an enterprise purchase.
(Source – http://www.softwareadvice.com/accounting/agriculture-software-comparison/)