By: Bruce Clevenger, OSU Extension Educator
Hand written or Computerized farm records are the foundation from which many on-farm decisions are made. “Good records” offer invaluable insights into business strengths and weaknesses. Agricultural producers seek inexpensive, easy to use tools that accomplish a variety of management tasks. If a computerized system is the next step, several commercial products have been developed that are customized for agriculture. However, some farmers report they are often expensive or cumbersome to use.
Many producers use commercial software marketed primarily for other uses, primarily, Quicken® which is sold for personal finance and QuickBooks® targeted to small business finance. Both tools can be used to help support farm management functions, including anticipating income and expenses in a changing economic environment; communicating with and reporting to business partners, lenders and government agencies; managing and paying employees; and analyzing the business. Recordkeeping software enables users to quickly record, then sort and summarize records in a variety of ways. It’s important to compare and contrast the applicability of two popular commercial software packages for use in farm/ranch financial records. The features of Quicken® and QuickBooks® have advantages and disadvantages in supporting farm management functions. Both tools are relatively easy to use and flexible. For many farmers, Quicken® is an inexpensive alternative with advantages for producers who want to track both family and farm income and expenses and/or have off-farm investments. For larger producers with multiple employees and/or the need to invoice and track accounts payable/receivable, QuickBooks® is clearly superior.