Data Unites

April 1, 2014 09:44 PM
Data Unites

Software firm thinks it’s cracked the challenge of merging records

This spring, a new kid on the farm software block is rolling out its first version of a product designed to merge opera­tional planning with financial data. Granular hopes to solve a farm manage­ment puzzle that has frus­trated farmers for decades—too much data in too many places. The first stage of Granular’s cloud-based platform is slated for May 2014. 

"While not excluding anybody, Granular has particular applications for top of the market, large-scale growers with a large number of employees," says Sid Gorham, CEO of the San Francisco-based firm funded by Google and investors. 

Granular plans to phase in features to merge operational planning with managerial accounting. Full accoun­ting functionality is antici­pated in 2015. The initial cost will be about $2 per acre, with add-ons costing more. For now, Granular will sell direct to work closely with farmers in an effort to refine software and analytic capabilities, Gorham says. 

Granular is the newest software in the ag market, but it’s not the only one. Two years ago, Conservis introduced a partial link of its cloud-based software with accounting packages that provide real-time cost data on a field basis—including labor, equipment and more. A further link between the two will be offered this year, says Eric Jackson, Conservis ag services president. "Total interface is the goal," he adds. 

How It Works.
Gorham says one of the key benefits of Granular’s software is that it allows producers to create field-by-field work orders, enabling farms to more easily and efficiently manage their operations. Users can input data into field-specific templates, assign those plans to fields and automatically turn the plans into work orders that employees receive via smartphone app. If users encounter something note­worthy, they can use their smartphones to make a note or take a picture. The owner can read the note or view the picture from his dashboard, which also shows an overview of all farm operations. 

The managerial accounting functionality will assign costs to each task so producers can precisely determine production costs on a per-field basis. "This piece will also enable producers to determine what the financial impact would be if they took on an additional 2,000 acres in the area, for example," Gorham says.

While new to ag, Granular’s concept has been used by other industries for quite some time, says Kip Tom, a Leesburg, Ind., producer who is beta testing the software. While he has been tracking much of the data that Granular’s software will automatically do, it’s been a complex, labor-intense process involving numerous spreadsheets, each with 150 to 200 tabs. He anticipates Granular will make that easier and faster, with the ability to eventually generate more real-time production data and merge that with marketing and accounting functions. 

"Let’s face it: Agriculture requires real-time information with 24 hour-a-day-commodity markets," Tom says. To capture market opportunities with high volatility levels and global factors changing markets, produ­cers need up-to-the-minute cost of produc­tion information, he says.
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