14 November 1997

Take it easy at first for success, says expert

MUDDLE, half-baked information and over-ambition.

Avoid these three mistakes in your approach to software and youll be well on the way to successful computerisation, says Robin Hobson of Laurence Gould.

Muddle comes as farmers try to take on too much, too quickly. "Dont try and do everything at once."

Having half-baked information results if, for example, farmers record the amount of fungicide applied, but dont then measure and record crop yields from those fields.

And to avoid over-ambition, ask one simple question before entering the world of computers: What do I actually need?

"All you need is a computer that produces the information that you require as simply and as cheaply as possible." Dont get sold "go-faster stripes and GTi status", which will just result in a vastly depreciating asset, says Mr Hobson.

"Avoid information overload. Its not, necessarily, a case of the more information, the better. Theres a lot of information in a telephone directory, but what good does it all do you?"

Talk to an independent adviser, ask at your local college and talk to other farmers who actually use the program, advises Mr Hobson.

"Decide what you need, then go and ask different people for it. Dont go with an open cheque book and say: Sell me something."