It's no big mystery why cloud accounting has become a popular and effective way to manage agricultural businesses. Cloud accounting offers a savvy, robust way to track complicated expenses such as water and labor - and especially when you're working across multiple partnerships, thorough records are critical.
"Oftentimes, our Ag Team works closely with our internal Grimbleby Coleman cloud accounting specialists to provide expertise to ag clients ready to make the jump to QuickBooks or Intacct," says Ag Team Lead and Principal Jeff Bowman. "This hybrid client-service approach has proven valuable for many of our ag clients recently, allowing them to evaluate income from the actual crop year, not just residual revenue from the fiscal year."
Why Should You Try Cloud Accounting on the Ranch?
Cloud accounting allows you to scale based on your needs. For example, we recommend tracking by field to truly monitor actual costs. That information is invaluable, especially if you're trying to decide whether to reinvest in your orchard or evaluate new opportunities.
"With water being so scarce, our clients really need to know how they will be able to afford and nurture a young field or orchard," Bowman says.
Many family - and even corporate - ranches have operations within various partnership entities. That makes tracking paramount, especially when each entity is providing complementary services such as paying for labor, water rights, equipment rentals, or providing cash flow to another entity. Cloud services will allow you to capture and articulate your full financial portfolio.
In the past, growers have been able to evaluate production expenses by comparing fields side-by-side; however, actual field costs were harder to track. Now growers can account for costs, labor, and various expenses such as poling, pruning, and harvesting to provide comparisons between fields, seasons, or even varieties.
Recommended Cloud Accounting Tools
The two most highly recommended and regularly used tools are QuickBooks Online and Intacct. Bill.com works nicely as a way to pay vendors, as well. Our team is certified in all of these tools.
When using QuickBooks Online or Intacct, the first step is to determine what you would like to track regularly. Most customers opt to see cash by account, accounts payable, debt with available lines of credit, cash on hand for each entity, and cash requirements over the next week and month. Easy-to-read graphics and charts make it easy to understand your full picture - as long as you're working with good information.
"If you put garbage in, you'll get garbage out," says Implementation Specialist Tami Davis. "With cloud services, you have to be conscientious of your inputs to gain the information you need."
QuickBooks Online provides plenty of power for small entities. It uses "classes" to track items such as acres and types of crops, and it's easy to customize the user-friendly interface for your needs. Our cloud accounting team can access your QuickBooks Online account remotely to assess records, which is an especially helpful perk if you need assistance or coverage for your regular bookkeeper.
Click here to learn more about our QuickBooks seminars, led by Linda Bossard.
We prefer Intacct for multi-entity businesses, especially those with several partners.
Intacct's customizable dashboard allows us to track expenses by lot, which means you can access a quick P&L report for each entity.
Intacct's security settings can be easily adjusted so parent companies can view the big picture while monitoring the books within each business. As with QuickBooks Online, our team can easily access the service and provide oversight and recommendations from afar. Intacct also offers storage for PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, bank statements, and other relevant attachments. Their easy tracking system allows you to include other non-financial information such as seed, chemical, and field service logs.
"It can be easy to get a little carried away with all of Intacct's features," Davis says, "but a simplified chart of accounts can actually provide better reporting."
How Can Your Business Work with Our Cloud Accounting Services Team? The Accounting Services and Cloud Accounting Services Teams can seamlessly integrate into your business on a temporary or permanent basis. We can serve as bookkeeper, controller, accountant, or even chief financial officer. We're excellent trainers for internal teams, as well.
"We're here to fill the gaps as needed," Lisa Mazza, Principal, CPA and Cloud Accounting Team Lead says. "Oftentimes our services are used to take accounting beyond the expertise of the client's bookkeeper. This results in more meaningful accounting data for analysis, decision making and tax planning.
Is it time to tune up your books during this harvest season? If so, please reach out to your accountant, Jeff Bowman, or Lisa Mazza for a demonstration or to learn more.