Past articles in the benchmarking series explored the general concepts and benefits of benchmarking your performance, ideas about the data, its accuracy, timeliness and applicability and their importance to the integrity and usefulness of any benchmarking analysis. So, where can you find applicable benchmark data?
Industry associations will often collect and publish industry specific benchmark data. Agricultural associations exist in every state and for almost every type of agricultural product. States with Land Grant universities conduct a lot of research and have networks of local or regional offices staffed by experts who provide research-based information for agricultural producers of all sizes and for public consumption.
Financial advisors, business consultants and accountants have the tools, training, knowledge and experience to help guide you and your business by providing insight and analysis into industry performance.
It's one thing to measure your performance; it is quite another to interpret that information as it relates to your business. Advisors and consultants can help you explore, develop and implement specific types of decisions and action plans and plot their consequences in relation to your operations, financial position and overall goals.
Progressive, like-minded farmers who don't necessarily compete in the same geographic market can benefit from networking with each other and sharing information. However, care needs to be taken in order to account for differences in costs, local industry oddities, or supply and demand. Informal groups can be formed through casual conversation. Specific peer advisory groups are forming at increasing rates across the country as the benefit of participation is being realized by a growing number of agricultural producers.
Deciding what exactly to measure inside your business is another important consideration when you implement benchmarking analysis into your farm management system. It's not all about creating some fancy spreadsheet with a bunch of numbers. Deciding what to measure and why brings relevancy to your specific business. We'll explore what to measure in the next segment in this benchmarking series.
Explore additional items in the benchmarking series:
How Do You Rate? Benchmarking, Part One
Are You Operating an 'Average' Farm Business? Benchmarking, Part Two
Why timing is important: Benchmarking, part three
Ready to benchmark your farm? Compare apples to apples
Brought to you by Farm Financial Standards Council. The opinions of JIm Casler are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.