Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Are You a "Big Bucket" Accountant?

In recent years we’ve observed two divergent trends inside many leading-edge operations:

1) Business scale and complexity are increasing exponentially.

2) Rather than recalibrating their accounting system to match this new level of detail, managers often turn to stand-alone, production-oriented record systems as their primary, if not exclusive, management platform. For example, crop growers use mapping programs while livestock producers either subscribe to an online record service or specialized production software.
As a result, even as the production view of the business achieves greater sophistication and granularity, the accounting process is relegated to a generic, “Big Bucket.”

The potentially-fatal flaw in this strategy is that accounting is the core control process in any business.

1) Planning, action and performance monitoring must ultimately be valued in actual dollars. By necessity, stand-alone production programs use “plugged” cost and revenue assumptions.

2) If a segment can be managed it should also be evaluated as a cost or profit center within the accounting system. Big Bucket accounting can’t effectively track or roll-up costs for the number of centers in most operations nor can it allocate costs to other centers.

3) In order for an accounting system to be in control, there must be a true tie-out between the balance sheet, income statement and actual inventories. “Big bucket” accounting generally relies on “plugged” or standard work-in-process inventories disconnected from real production data.

This deficiency is not a concern for most production software developers. After all, their expertise is in the agronomic/physiological worlds, not the accounting field. However, without meaningful segmentation and tie-out between accounting and production numbers your big, generic, un-integrated accounting bucket most certainly will be leaking.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's Just Around the Corner?

Here's an inside look at what's happening deep inside the super-secret FBS Bunker:
  • Version 10 (.NET), our biggest upgrade in years, is currently consuming 90% of our R&D efforts (on quiet days, anyway). Switching to .NET will keep your software compatible with the Microsoft and web worlds for years to come, but it also takes a lot more programming time and testing than our usual upgrades. As a result, we're certain that we won't hit the normal VIP/Corporate October shipment target this year. Meanwhile...
  • We will be releasing an interface with DTN market prices this Fall. You can see a preview of this exciting technology through our webinar on Monday, October 4th. (See Webinar Schedule below.)
  • By this time next month we plan to "cut-over" to a brand-new Website and e-newsletter format that will knock your socks off! Stay tuned (as if you have a choice with the Internet).

October Webinar Schedule

Our Monday morning webinars are back with all-new content. All run from 10:00 am-11:00 am CDT.

Integrating FBS with DTN market data, October 4th.
Accounting for hedging transactions, October 11th.
Advanced livestock budgeting and margin analysis, October 18th.
Smart Feeder User-Defined Reports, October 25th.

To register, e-mail by 9:00 am CDT on the day of the webinar.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Q&A of the Month--Hot Keys

Q. Are there any shortcuts to make data entry in FBS faster and easier?

A. Yes, there are over 40 “Hot Keys” built into FBS that make input and navigation faster and easier. To learn what these keys are and what they do, go to the Help menu from the FBS main screen, then click on FBS Hot Keys to display, print or export this list.

Here are a few examples for TransAction Plus data entry hot keys:

Press the F12 key after you select the vendor to scroll through all previous entries made to this vendor during this calendar year. This hot key acts much like an input macro (or “template”) in that you can save any of these prior entries as new entries (with, of course, a new date and necessary changes to amounts, accounts and centers).

Speaking of macros, the F8 key will bring up your macro or vendor list depending on what field you are in and F9 will toggle the vendor list on and off.

Click F4 (or “+,” “*,” or “/”) in any numeric field to bring up a calculator from which you can paste the calculated value back into TransAction Plus by pressing Enter two times (same as the Return Value button).

Keep reading this column for more handy hot keys and tips!

Friday, September 10, 2010

FBS Users in the News

Kerry Knuth, Mead, Nebraska describes how he takes advantage of basis moves and uses FBS E.CLIPSE management accounting to track transportation costs in the September 2010 Farm Futures cover story, "The Joy of Marketing." To illustrate Knuth's cost-tracking prowess, F.F. photographed him in front of is JD 9430 48-row planter. Click on this link and select the September issue:

Friday, September 3, 2010

More User Conference Moments

Thanks to Paul Hey for these candid shots from the 2010 FBS User Conference.
The User Conference began with special training for professional farm managers.
John McNutt explains the process of hiring controller/CFO services.

Jim Marzolf presents the LarsonAllen perspective on the function of controllers and CFOs.

Steve McWilliams compares the pros and cons of out-sourcing CFO services.

Bill Stangel offers his insight on farm management technology.

Norm explains how users can take controll of their data.

Don Konz describes some of DTN's ag professional solutions.