Taking 5 with…Piers Costley

Have 5 minutes?

Get to know some of the people behind Farmplan, as they share their experiences and thoughts on the agriculture industry in an informal, but informative environment.

We’ll be catching up with members of our team every couple of months, as they discuss their role, background and interests.

This month we’re in conversation with Piers Costley, Managing Director, Farmplan

Despite the challenges of 2020, Farmplan can look back at the year with some pride. In particular, we are proud of the fact that we provided continuous business services from development and sales right the way through to customer service, training and support. Although how we deliver these services looks remarkably different behind the scenes, we worked hard to limit any service interruption for our customers.

“I am delighted with how well my colleagues pulled together in response to the pandemic and utilised the technical infrastructure we’ve developed”. Piers Costley says, “almost all office staff now work from home, but our customers have never seen a difference in the level of support they’ve received; the changes were seamless.”

We also provided our customers with support in how to use Farmplan software across multiple sites (where people had to work from home), providing complimentary additional licencing to get customers through this difficult time.

So now we’re in 2021, what can we look forward to? The biggest constant is undoubtedly going to be change. Whilst we continue to face the challenges of a global pandemic, now that a deal has been done, we also face a new era post-Brexit, although it is difficult to know how this new era will develop over time. Consequently, the farming community needs to find a way to compete in a different market and adhere to new rules and legislation as a result of Brexit as well as the new agriculture bill. And finally, there is the continuing pressure of adopting a more sustainable approach to farming our land. This year will be anything but quiet!

Piers is optimistic about the UK’s ability to compete post-Brexit: “I’m encouraged by the example set by New Zealand. I was there when they dropped agriculture support overnight and despite a very challenging period, New Zealand’s agriculture sector has grown to be the most competitive and commercially driven in the world”.

But how do we find a profitable way through such unprecedented change? We believe data can provide many of the answers. Meaningful data, presented in a timely manner, can help farmers and their advisors make crucial decisions for their business – weeding out inefficiencies, investing in areas of profitable growth and supporting agronomic decisions. By developing a good approach to business intelligence, farm businesses can adapt and become more agile in these changing times and farmers can have more confidence in the decisions they’re making.

Farmplan has continued to invest in software development throughout 2020 and our customers will experience the benefits of this investment over the coming year.

“When it comes to software, customers want ease of use and simple data input. Yes, they want the insight that huge complexity delivers, but people want this at a touch of a button.” Piers goes on to observe that this dual need for intelligent data analysis and simple use, heavily relies on integration between products to eliminate the need for duplicating data entry. So, a core focus of Farmplan’s strategy is to collaborate with third parties, developing the kind of productive partnership that customers have long enjoyed with companies such as John Deere.

Another 2021 focus is to provide flexibility in our support and training services. In response to the restrictions of multiple lockdowns, Farmplan delivered virtual training solutions and webinars to support customers in getting the most out of the Farmplan software. This has accelerated a change in delivery and whilst the customer support line will always be an important cornerstone of our support services, Farmplan are diversifying the provision to become more proactive in content and flexible in delivery.

Farmplan are known to be customer-focused and this new, proactive approach to customer support should not surprise anyone, but it is a development MD Piers Costley is particularly excited by: “With our customers facing so much change, we see it as our duty to help our customers keep up with these developments, putting them in the best position to succeed.”