Mark and Janet Barden run ‘Glenwarrie’ and ‘Tyrone’ near Edgeroi NSW and are broadacre winter crop specialists, growing faba beans, durum wheat, bread wheat, chickpeas and canola.
As farming systems have evolved, the Barden’s have implemented zero till; auto steer; private agronomy; and, controlled traffic practices, although strategic tillage has crept in, as weeds show signs of resistance. The size of the property means the couple can run the property by themselves day-to-day, employing contractors when it is time for grain haulage off-farm.
In 1996, Mark attended FarmFest in Narrabri and met then CEO Hugh Beattie in the Practical Systems display tent.
“Hugh was promoting Cashbook and Farmbook, so we signed up for a package deal for both software,” Mark said. “It also included the fastest, largest, most modern state-of-the-art desktop computer. It had a whole 16mb of RAM, and we nearly needed a new office to fit it in, the computer was so large.”
Like many of Practical Systems clients, this was the first time Mark had used a computer, and he picked up the skills just to use the software.
“The deal included start-up training and I think that cost them dearly, I was totally computer illiterate,” Mark said. “Everything I know about computers I have learned from Practical Systems. At the time, Farmbook was still running on DOS, but Cashbook was using this new technology called ‘Windows’.”
According to Mark, Practical Systems being a local company was a big factor in the decision to use their products.
“Twenty years ago, the three-hour drive from Narrabri to Armidale was considered short haul,” he said. “The internet existed at the time, but no one used it much, there were no emails, and mobile phones were the old Motorola bag phone/brick.”
As the technology and regulations changed, so did Practical Systems software, allowing the Barden’s to adapt to change quickly.
“Practical Systems’ software is designed by farmers for farmers. When we purchased the program, they trained us and listened to us. They modified software to meet our needs,” Mark said.
“When the GST was introduced in 2000, Practical Systems accepted the challenge. They incorporated the GST and its Business Activity Statement into the software and got us through the changes smoothly.
“The biggest (and best) change for us was to accept an invitation to engage their associated firm, PS Accounting, as our accountant. It was a natural progression to meet our changing accounting needs as our family grew.”
According to Mark, Practical Systems has changed but not in the areas that made him choose the software to begin with.
“It has been a great experience to see Practical Systems grow to where it is today and to have our business grow equally. They have continued to expand, employing more staff now than when we first met Hugh at FarmFest,” Mark said.
“The support is excellent. The team are understanding and may be slowly getting used to some farmer humour…or not. I still work my way into a corner with Cashbook occasionally, and the support team are very patient and understand that all farmers think two-finger typing is very fast.”
Mark cites Cashbook’s Bank Feed, Cloud Hosting, Inventory, Budgets, and Reports as the biggest improvements that have been made since he started using the software.
“I love Bank Feed and the new hosted version of Cashbook is spot on,” he said. “They have also updated the reporting and budgeting, so it is easier and more thorough than when we started out. The inventory recording has also been improved.
“It is easy to generate reports and budgets to email or upload these to a third party, such as your financial institution or accountant. Cashbook also produces the monthly cashflow budgets and projections that the Bank Manager loves.
“With the new ‘cloud’ feature, our accountant can check our work (and fix my blunders) from his office without the need to transfer any backup files or emails. It happens effortlessly.”
Mark said the flexibility and time-saving of Cashbook means he’ll use it for many years to come.
“Practical Systems software is easy to use, and it can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. It all depends on how much information you put in and what you want to get out of it,” he said.
“Cashbook saves me time; I do not have to spend my weekends and rainy days doing the book anymore.”