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New accounting startup leverages technology with experience

TAGS: Business
Courtesy of Traction Laptop, tablet and phone screens from Traction's cloud-based farm accounting application
NEW ACCOUNTING TOOL: A move to cloud-based software design means Traction users have improved access to farm management information.
Traction is a cloud-based accounting application that brings a new approach to managing the farm.

Brian Stark was looking for a job. His position had ended at Trimble, where for more than 10 years he was involved in farm accounting and other tech-related areas, including FarmWorks software. He knew he could turn to opportunities at another tech firm, but a different idea appealed to him and two other colleagues — innovate the world of farm accounting.

The trio — Stark, Ian Harley and Scott Nusbaum — saw an opportunity. “We found that no one was really going after the next generation of cloud-based technology for farm accounting,” Stark says.

Nusbaum was the accounting expert at FarmWorks, a desktop-based farm management system acquired by Trimble more than a decade ago. Nussbaum stayed on after the purchase, until late in 2019.

Nussbaum, Stark and Harley got together to launch Traction Ag in early 2020. The idea was to create a management accounting system that was cloud-based. For farmers, that would mean having access to key farm management information anytime and anywhere by smartphone, tablet or computer. No more need to head back to the office to manage the farm.

Soon after the company formed, the initial partners brought in Jeff Dearborn and Aaron Hunt, both experts in operational logistic, agronomy and geographic information systems.

“We started writing software in March of 2020,” Stark explains. “And we're kicking off with basic accounting, but we'll be adding field operations in time for spring planting.”

1-stop shop

Moving to a cloud-based accounting platform will allow farmers not only to have easy access to key information, but also to speed transfer of information from external sources into the system. A headache of managerial accounting is getting the information you need input into the system.

Traction developers are working to solve that and while they're off to what Stark calls a “basic” start, the initial program does include the ability to manage an unlimited number of farm entities, connect your bank and credit card accounts to synchronize transactions, maintain your cash-based balance sheet and income statement with drill-down analysis, use your phone to take pictures of invoices, tag them to transactions, and perform standard accounting tasks.

For spring 2021, the system will allow you to be upgraded to view profit centers by field or crop from actual expenses and revenue.

Stark explains that more features are on the way. A benefit of a cloud-based design is that linkages to other forms of data become easier. Seamless imports from other field record systems, grain elevators or other suppliers to link directly to fields, and processes, can impact farm management.

Adds Harley, who is CEO at Traction: “We've delivered an accounting application unique to the marketplace that will soon integrate your actual financial transactions to the fields and crops for true profit center analysis. This solution saves you time and improves the overall decision-making process for the entire team.”

In a media announcement for the launch of Traction, the company quotes Julie Rose of Glencoe, Minn.: “Until today, I was the only one on the farm who had access to our day-to-day financials and reporting. Now other family members can easily participate and access our current financial situation from any location throughout the season, allowing us to leverage this information as a team to maximize profitability.”

Traction’s Basic Accounting solution is available for $950 per year, which includes two manager logins. The company is working on field operations and agronomy solutions to provide seamless integration, expected to be available later this year. For more information, visit tractionag.com.

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