"> Digitising dairy: how a milking business turned to tech - eDairyNews-EN
Keeping up with modern life can be a challenge for all of us, and for people running their own business, it can be a real struggle to juggle family time and work.
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SUPPLIED For Ramandeep and Rhiannon Badhan, contract milkers in Mangakino, balancing the demands of agricultural work with a young family isn’t an easy task.

Keeping up with modern life can be a challenge for all of us, and for people running their own business, it can be a real struggle to juggle family time and work. For Ramandeep and Rhiannon Badhan, contract milkers in Mangakino, balancing the demands of agricultural work with a young family isn’t an easy task.

Like most dairy workers, the Badhans are up early every morning. They wake at 5am to get ahead on the day’s work and get their kids ready. One child goes off to primary school, another to daycare, while the youngest, a five-month-old, remains with them on the farm. Then the hard day’s work begins.

According to Rhiannon, who runs the back-office side of the business, a working day can be hectic.

“I pick up the equipment that needs repairing, then head into Tokoroa, Rotorua, or Taupo, and get whatever I need fixed,” she says. “By the time I get back, it’s time to pick the kids up from school again.”

Like most dairy workers, the Badhans are up early every morning. They wake at 5am to get ahead on the day’s work and get their kids ready. One child goes off to primary school, another to daycare, while the youngest, a five-month-old, remains with them on the farm. Then the hard day’s work begins.

According to Rhiannon, who runs the back-office side of the business, a working day can be hectic.

“I pick up the equipment that needs repairing, then head into Tokoroa, Rotorua, or Taupo, and get whatever I need fixed,” she says. “By the time I get back, it’s time to pick the kids up from school again.”

For Ramandeep and Rhiannon Badhan, contract milkers in Mangakino, balancing the demands of agricultural work with a young family isn’t an easy task.
SUPPLIED For Ramandeep and Rhiannon Badhan, contract milkers in Mangakino, balancing the demands of agricultural work with a young family isn’t an easy task.

After the school runs, Rhiannon sits down at her computer to work on the family company, spending up to an hour every day on admin work: “I look at what the staff are doing and check their hours. We’re also thinking of expanding our business, so we’re looking at investors to buy a farm with. We’re working on proposals for different farms.”

Getting up to speed with the milking business, which has four full-time employees, is full-on work. But Rhiannon’s tasks are made much easier with the use of technology. A series of handy apps and digital tools have helped the Badhans save time and improve efficiencies.

“Doing budgets with Xero, I can flick off invoices and reconcile accounts on my phone. It’s so easy,” she adds. “We have PaySauce for payroll, so our workers don’t have to file their hours manually. We also use BrightHR, through Employsure, for managing our employees’ contracts.”

Another specialised app for the agricultural sector, Minda, allows the Badhans to keep track of their cows and record and access information.

Rhiannon says the online tools have been vital in helping her keep on top of her daily work. Other apps such as Figured have also helped with crucial tasks such as forecasting, financial management, budgeting with wages, repairs and maintenance.

The digital tools have enabled the co-owners to spend more time with the family.

“I wouldn’t want to be pinned down to a chair nine to five,” Rihannon adds. “It makes life so much easier. I can share business developments with my husband, who is working on the farm, and it makes it easier for him to be able to see what’s going on.”

The benefits of implementing technology have meant more time with the kids — and less time on the computer completing administrative tasks. Even with a young baby on the farm, the Badhans have achieved the right balance.

“If I wasn’t able to do everything on my phone, I wouldn’t have time for most of the business stuff,” Rhiannon adds. “Especially with three kids and the youngest being five months old. It’s definitely really helpful.”

“A lot of people can’t take their children to work with them,” she adds. “We’re so lucky to be able to take him out with us. It’s amazing and one of the things that we love about farming. The lifestyle just suits us.”

The benefits of implementing technology for the Badhan’s business has meant more time with the kids — and less time on the computer completing administrative tasks.
SUPPLIED The benefits of implementing technology for the Badhan’s business has meant more time with the kids — and less time on the computer completing administrative tasks.

Tech tools have proven vital on the farm, and there are a host of other apps available to suit all kinds of businesses.

Despite the obvious advantages of digital tools, nearly one in five small business owners and sole traders don’t use apps to help with their work, according to a Xero customer survey.

Those that use digital services reap the benefits. According to Xero’s recent survey, 73 per cent of companies that used apps, cloud tools and online programmes noted an increase in their productivity.

Craig Hudson, managing director for Xero, says digitisation can improve both wellbeing and productivity. He says unsustainable workloads can be damaging to the NZ economy.

Tech tools have proven vital on the Badhan's farm, and there are a host of other apps available to suit all kinds of businesses.
SUPPLIED Tech tools have proven vital on the Badhan’s farm, and there are a host of other apps available to suit all kinds of businesses.

“The small business economy is the engine room of Aotearoa’s economy, contributing more than a quarter of GDP and accounting for 97 per cent of all businesses across the country,” he says. “When that part of our economy is humming, everyone benefits.”

“When people are well-rested and looking after themselves, they’re more present and productive at work and all aspects of their lives. Overworking, or not allowing sufficient breaks away from work, can lead to burnout and can severely impact wellbeing.”

He says there’s never been a better time to explore the wide range of apps tailored to different business sectors.

“Running a business can be stressful. More often than not, it comes back to money and time. But whatever your industry, there are digital tools that can help take the load off,” Hudson adds.

A dairy checkoff group says holiday demand for butter is strong this year. Suzanne Fanning with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin tells Brownfield sales have not fallen since the start of the pandemic.

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