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Inrax for FarmersTwo of the three founders of Meier Pollard live and work on farms in Worcestershire. From the start when we developed Inrax we had farmers' needs in the back of our minds. When we looked at the main incumbent suppliers to farmers for business systems, Farmplan and Sage, we felt there were drawbacks to an approach which put a single user PC program into the farm. We think there are significant advantages to our approach specifically for farmers.
On most farms more than one person may need to work on the accounting data. These may include the farmer, a farm secretary, an accountant (if only for tax), and possibly the bank manager. A single user PC program requires all users to come to the farm to work on the PC, or for off farm users to work from print outs which they may well, inefficiently, have to rekey into another program. Inrax allows any number of users, at no additional cost to the farmer, to access the system from anywhere securely. Everyone who needs to, can work on the same data.
Anyone who has had a PC for more than a few months knows how quickly hardware and software can be outdated. Keeping PCs running and up to date soon becomes a chore which is completely peripheral to running the farm. Inrax keeps itself up to date at the start of each session, and all the technology and backups are managed for you. You can access Inrax from a PC as old as a Windows 95 computer.
It is a real advantage being able to upload files and documents into Inrax. It allows the farmer to scan and store important source documents, such as invoices, away from the farm in safety. It also allows users off farm access to those documents so that, perhaps, a farm secretary can do work on the accounts without visiting the farm. Should there be an accident or fire at the farm, copies of important source documents are readily available in Inrax to help the business recover.
Farms are unusual businesses in that they are rarely in direct competition with neighbouring farms. In fact DEFRA and others are urging farmers to form cooperatives to market their produce and source capital equipment. Inrax has been specifically designed for use by such a cooperative, because "template" organisations allow farmers to share information which they have in common, keeping private information separate and secure. An example is that many farmers will have many of the same suppliers and customers as their neighbours. In the case of common suppliers - and potential suppliers - details can be kept at the template level and inherited for reuse by the individual farm Inrax organisation. One can envisage a situation in which an Inrax cooperative could charge suppliers to have their details in the cooperative's template organisation.