As farm operations grow larger, more complex or simply have more people and more moving parts, one idea that many farmers have found helpful is to put processes in place.
Processes help because it can otherwise be tough to know where to start when you’re dealing with major decisions. They can save time and resources – especially for the leader when he or she doesn’t have to spend time wondering what to do next.
A process can provide a framework for decisions that might be very complicated, yet time-sensitive. I’m thinking of decisions that have major implications – like purchasing a piece of ground or deciding about grain sales.
Think it through
When I say something like “Try to get processes put in place for your operation,” that can feel overwhelming and leads to many questions. Some of the questions that probably come to mind include: what aspects of the farm would benefit most from processes, how complex do the processes need to be, and who should be involved in creating them.
Every farm is different in terms of what aspects would benefit most from having processes in place. Look for areas where big decisions have to be made, must be made fairly often, and involve multiple people as decision-makers or who need to be consulted or informed about the decision.
Once you’ve identified a few areas or decisions that could benefit from a process, it’s time to create one. You might bring together the people who are currently involved in the decision-making or who need to have input.
Create a list together of all the things that need to happen before, during and after the decision. Then decide how to tweak the order of those items for the best flow and most efficient way to make the decision. That might include adding or eliminating certain steps. Try the process out on a trial basis first, and then make changes based on what you find about how it works real-time on your farm.
Places to start
Here are two ideas of decision-making areas and aspects of the farm that might benefit from creating a step-by-step process and trying it out within your operation.
- Major purchases. You might define a certain dollar amount that initiates when this process needs to be used. It might include purchases like land, certain equipment, bins and buildings. Using a process to made decisions about major capital purchases can be extremely helpful. It takes out some of the guesswork and can outline ahead of time who should be involved in these purchasing decisions.
- Marketing plans and decisions. A process can greatly help the marketing decision-making in your operation. Especially when there are several decision-makers or people who give input about marketing decisions in the operation, having an outlined way that you go about making decisions can be a game-changer. You can create different roles for the people who are involved in marketing decisions, and the timing of when and how they should be consulted or informed when decisions need to be made.
One person you may want to include in your marketing decision-making process is a market advisor for your farm. You can get in touch with our market advisors and get a free trial of our market information service.