Lessons from living at the intersection of agriculture, technology and accounting

by Sophie Stanley

It’s been a big year for Figured!  This time last year we were preparing to launch the much anticipated “Farming in the Cloud” story to the market for the very first time at the Mystery Creek Fieldays alongside Xero. One year on, we are excited to bring live to farmers our latest 2.0 version of Figured and a whole lot of stories along with it.

In the calm before the storm, amongst the flurry of Fieldays organisation for this year, it has been a good time to reflect on how far we have come in only a year in the fast paced world of agriculture, technology and accounting.

As one of the first employees at Figured, and with a background in mainly farming and finance rather than technology, I didn’t realise the pace that the technology sector could move, and how much passion and enthusiasm there would be for something to do with accounting software.

But that in itself tells a really great story.

Xero have paved the way for changing the perception of what business management can be by creating an easy to use, valuable and even ‘fun’ accounting solution. And being able to deliver that now to the farming sector with Figured has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

The world looks to NZ particularly in a lot of agri-innovation, therefore the intersection of technology and agriculture is a space where we have a lot of opportunity. So, learnings I have found a year on:

We have two ears, and one mouth for a reason: So we can listen twice as much as we talk

The vision for Figured from the beginning was to develop a product that would help make farmers lives not only easier, but give them a deeper understanding of their business and where it was going (particularly in volatile times).  We have learnt a lot in the last year by listening to our early adopter farmers and accounting partners.  We’ve done a lot of listening in fact,  and continue to encourage feedback to do so. Reading the blog of one of our earliest accounting partners (Greg Newman, from Winstanley Kerridge Chartered Accountants in Blenheim) really highlights the strong relationships we have built over the course of the last year. Which is why our decision to launch our new release was an easy one. The feedback from the last year has given us incredible insight and our pre-release of Figured 2.0 to our accountants at XeroCon in April was phenomenal. We are excited to finally launch live our latest version of Figured at Fieldays and show you how easy managing your livestock, cashflow & profit now can be.

There have been many farmers, accountants and bankers that have said “I have been waiting for something like this, there is great need for it in the industry and the vision of where you can take this is exciting”. Feedback like that is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Definition of Insanity: Doing the same thing over & over, and expecting different results

Progress is impossible without change but I know better than anyone that change can be scary.  A funny story I often refer to is teaching my grandmother how to use an iPad. Before she used one, she didn’t see its value because she didn’t know any different. However, one year later, she reads all her news online, connects to all of her grandchildren regularly via email and skype, and is probably reading this blog as we speak.  Often you don’t know your current “good enough” solution could be a lot better, easier and provide a lot more value (and stereotypes about age need not apply!).  Whatever your family and business goals may be, knowing your business position in real time and having a plan for the future can really save time and money, and alleviate stress.

NZ Farmers are incredibly resilient and tech savvy

This isn’t really a learning, I always knew our sector was ahead of the game and the envy of farmers worldwide. But what I have learnt, is that the No.8 wire mentality, passion of the sector is stronger than ever despite the volatile world we now live in.  It’s incredibly encouraging to see the sector pull together and support each other in volatile times.  Working closely with your farming team (banker, accountant and consultant) is particularly important in a season like this, as everybody is keen to help their clients get through. Online collaboration tools such as Xero and Figured can make that process so much easier and quicker. So less time stressing, and more time getting on with it.

There’s been plenty of other learnings over the year, and if you want to hear more, make sure you stop by our stand at Fieldays next week. We will have our main presence on Xero’s Premier Feature Site in the main Mystery Creek Pavilion, as well as on ASB, BNZ and Vodafone’s sites so be sure to pop in for a chat.

We have a few more exciting developments in the pipeline later this week, so stay tuned to the blog for more info and announcements.

Over and Out