What is the best computer program to keep our records on? seems to be the main topic when all of us instructors are out promoting the South Dakota Center for Farm & Ranch Management. I hope to shed a little light on the subject for all of you.
The answer is ALL OF THEM WORK for keeping track of the important financial information that is required. A consensus of all accountants, bankers, tax preparers, educational institutions and, yes, even us instructors at the Center is hard to find. It all goes back to what you the farmer/rancher are used to working with and how much general knowledge you have of the inner workings of computer programs and everyday business management.
I have found that some of the popular accounting programs on the market do a good job keeping track of the ins and outs of checking accounts but when it comes to inventory their capabilities are drastically lacking or non-existent. Most of them are not designed with the farmer/rancher in mind. On the other end of the scale, there are a couple programs offered to farmers and ranchers that can do everything that we can dream of for record keeping. These are for more advanced users and generally offer a whole bunch of bells and whistles on the inventory side to make up for what they are lacking in the accounting portion.
My theory is simple, start with something that is simple and easy to understand yet upgradable to a more advanced level. Capabilities like writing checks, entering deposits and tracking credit cards are probably what you want. Accurate financial reports are also important. Remember the best record keeping system is the one that is done. If there are any questions regarding different computer systems and you would like an unbiased opinion, send us an e-mail and we will be glad to answer them.