How a growing farm used technology to transform the business

How a growing poultry and dairy farmer used Xero, Figured and PaySauce to transform his business and make financially-informed decisions.

Ed Whiting isn’t one to shy away from technology. In fact, running three farms means technology is crucial to keep them all going. The chicken sheds on his poultry farm are computer controlled, so food and water levels can be checked instantly, and shed temperatures and humidity can be automatically set and monitored.

As the owner of Airport Farm, Ed is acutely aware of how technical innovation can help with the success of his business. Using the latest technology, he’s made work more efficient and has had substantial success in calf rates and reduced his animal health costs. 

But when it came to managing his finances, Ed wasn’t making the best use of Xero – his cloud-based accounting software – and Figured – his farm management system.

He was tracking his development expenditure and progress using spreadsheets, which not only took up a lot of his time but also opened the business up to potential data inaccuracies and even profit loss. 

With multiple revenue streams to manage and a huge capital development project, Ed became overwhelmed with the amount of information coming in. So, he hired an administrator to keep things on track. 

Using Xero to process their day-to-day transactions and generate GST returns made life easier, but they still weren’t using Xero to its full capacity – and they were barely using Figured at all.

Getting up to date with Xero and Figured

Working with Amanda Burling, his accountant at Baker Tilly Staples Rodway in Taranaki, Ed was shown what his business could achieve by using the true functionality of both Xero and Figured together. 

“Seeing Ed’s reaction when we explained it all was priceless,” says Amanda. “All of his issues would be solved without the need to have a spreadsheet tracking everything in the background.”

Figured has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the agricultural industry. And with multi-farm functionality, Ed can either budget per farm or on a consolidated basis, and the software includes production tracking, real-time budgeting and planning, as well as various reporting options.

Once he had been set up correctly on both Figured and Xero, Ed and Amanda were able to get accurate real-time information that meant they could easily access and identify how his capital development project was tracking.

And Amanda was able to see that Ed was going to be short on funding to complete the project. With an updated forecast and access to actual spend-to-date reports, Ed and Amanda were able to clearly see overspends, under budgeting, and what the shortfall was going to be.

“With all this information available, it meant that obtaining additional funding was relatively straightforward,” says Amanda.

Using the ‘Scenario’ tool in Figured meant Ed and Amanda were able to show the bank what the future looked like, give a clear indication of when debt repayment would occur, and show the business would still be in a healthy financial position at the end of it.

“Now that we have Figured running well, I spend more time looking at where we are and where we’re going. This means I can make financially-informed business decisions faster, saving time and headspace,” says Ed. “There are hours and hours of unproductive thought wasted on not knowing your financial position, it kills productivity and the ability to work efficiently.”

Introducing PaySauce for payroll

With more than 20 employees, getting an efficient and straightforward payroll solution was important for the smooth running of the business. So Amanda introduced Ed to PaySauce. 

Using PaySauce meant Ed’s employees could enter their time via a mobile app, select which farm they were working on and – if they were working in construction – even enter the exact shed they were working in.

For Ed, it means he and his accountant can see the accuracy in variance reporting per farm. They can also keep track and separate construction wages from operational wages. 

Running all his farms through his Xero account and using Figured means that Ed and Amanda can see the profitability of each farm. They can also track expenses per farm and per chicken shed, which makes shed performance analysis and asset capitalisation much more efficient. 

Having easy access to this information means Ed is empowered to make informed decisions about where his business is heading. 

The ability to plan and react to data in such a volatile economic landscape is crucial to business success. And using cloud-based systems also means that Ed, his accountants and bank manager can remotely collaborate around the same data.

“It also means that our time involved in completing the annual financial statements is a lot less,” says Amanda. “And that allows us to concentrate on providing value to the future of Ed’s business.”

Screenshots of Figured and Xero dashboards

Finding out the true functionality of Figured and Xero transformed Ed’s business.

Ed and his family taking some time out on the farm.

Ed and his family taking some time out on the farm.

Want to see how accounting software can work for you?

Explore how Xero works for small business.

Learn more

Explore more customer stories

Starting a farming business in a flat market

Simon started two farming businesses in a bad market. Find out how he made it out the other side.

Learn more

The perfect partnership behind an artisanal bakery

Ryan loves baking. Ed loves running a business. Together the two of them have created a thriving bakery in the Waikato.

Learn more