PACIOLI 3, Need for change

Table of contents

Towards innovation proposals
Reflection on the ideas
Towards a programme

Towards innovation proposals

The PACIOLI project consists of four workshops; the first workshop Farm accounting and Information management was held in March 1995. The second workshop Accounting and managing innovation was held in September 1995. The third workshop Need for change was held in March 1996. In line with the discussion about the impact of the CAP reform, the main objective of PACIOLI is to come up with proposals for reforming the RICA FADN.

In the first workshop the objectives of the project were discussed and it was concluded that the main objectives for innovation in the FADNs are improvement of the quality of FADN data, the use of data and the cost effectiveness of FADNs. A mature level of strategic information management is a prerequisite for more flexible FADNs that supply high-quality data in a cost-effective way.

In the second workshop the national FADNs were the main subject. Both the organization around the FADN and within the FADN were discussed. The stakeholder analysis was a very important part of the discussion; since the objective of PACIOLI is to innovate the FADN, we have to know to whom we should listen and where to pick up ideas for change. The participants that were present at the second PACIOLI workshop agreed that the next step in the process was to make lists of potential innovations and to arrange these topics in order of importance and preference.

Consequently, the objective of the third workshop was to come up with many ideas, to structure them and to design project indications. During the workhop all ideas were presented, after which they were assigned to one of the following categories:

  1. external organization;
  2. internal organization;
  3. domain of FADN data;
  4. quality management;
  5. information technology;
  6. farm management accounting.




The ideas vary from gathering of new data (quantitative) to meetings with specialists (qualitative), all meant to help innovate the FADNs. Also the stakeholders have had an important role; either they were present at the third workshop, or they had been interviewed before the third workshop.

Within a category the ideas were clustered, after which they were worked out to project indications. Among other things these project indications consist of a description of the project, the stakeholders to be involved and the potential funders. The potential funders are very important of course, therefore one working group session was about the criteria that will be used in the assessment of project proposals.

The workshop resulted in sixteen project indications which will be worked out during the fourth and last PACIOLI workshop, which will be held September 30 - October 2, 1996.

Last but not least it was obvious that the enthusiastic network of accounting experts, information scientists and FADN experts of 7 EU countries got to know each other. This might be very important in some of the proposals that will be of a networking kind. Experts from Belgium, Germany and Switzerland joined the group. For the last workshop the other EU Member States are still invited, in order to get a broad platform for ideas about innovation of FADNs.

Idea 1:

Estimation of data needs

Aim:

Establish information requirements of different stakeholders by reviewing literature and by surveys

Products:

Improved response of the RICA to requirements, better priority setting and measurability of policy needs

 

Idea 2:

Manage cost effectiveness

Aim:

Establish procedures (like tendering) that would install methods to control costs in relation to benefits

Products:

Reduced political and financial constraints, management control system, cost reduction program

   

Idea 3:

New Farm Typology

Aim:

Revise the current farm typology to make it more useful by simplification and improved comparability

Products:

New farm typology, improved management

 

Idea 4:

Rapid results

Aim:

Establish an information system that delivers results for key commodities before agricultural year ends

Products:

Forecasts in accounting year, rapid results directly after accounting year (subsample)

 

Idea 5:

New EU farm return

Aim:

Establish a new farm return ('fiche') and documentation base

Products:

New EU farm return with data structure to ensure comparability, consistency, flexibility, clarity, and rapidity

 

Idea 6:

Indicators on environment, landscape and food quality

Aim:

Define indicators for farm management and policy makers to support the management of environment, landscape and food quality

Products:

Measures (methods, tools) and indicators for farmers and policy makers to manage the environment, landscape and food quality

 

Idea 7:

Indicators on regional development

Aim:

Define indicators that measure regional development and the contribution of agricultural households

Products:

Measures (methods, tools) and indicators for policy makers to manage regional development

 

Idea 8:

Development of a PECO-RICA

Aim:

Develop a farm accountancy data network in Central and East European countries to support their agriculture and to make comparisons with the EU possible

Products:

FADNs in several CEECs. Yearly report with a comparison of EU and CEEC data at farm level

 

Idea 9:

Development of quality network software

Aim:

Develop software that is able to check the RICA data at different levels of detail

Products:

Software, high quality, rapid RICA data base

 

Idea 10:

Develop a quality programme in FADN

Aim:

Develop a quality programme for the FADN based on user priorities, taking into account the following steps: quality guidelines, documentation system, annual quality survey, study of customer satisfaction

Products:

A broad quality concept, a standardized documentation system, annual report on quality

 

Idea 11:

Develop a reference information model and standards for data exchange for RICA and farm accounting

Aim:

Develop a reference information model for RICA and develop EDI standards for data exchange between RICA, Member States and regional (accounting) offices

Products:

Handbook with information model, data dictionary (electronic version), specification of EDI messages

 

Idea 12:

Introduce modular flexible information technology in RICA

Aim:

Develop software to access the data in the RICA at different levels of aggregation (EU, region etcetera)

Products:

Software, distributed databases

 

Idea 13:

FADN on the Internet

Aim:

Develop a (prototype) service for current and new FADN users (academic world, regions, farmers) to get better access to (aggregated) results of the FADN

Products:

Web service, report on user's needs, report on standard definition for an Internet service, report on evaluation of final system, prototype of a network service for the farmers

 

Idea 14:

Modernization of farm management accounting

Aim:

Carry out research to provide guidelines and prototypes for the development of accounting modules in farm management information systems for data-intensive farms in 2005

Products:

Guidelines and prototype for software developers

 

Idea 15:

Taking stock of accounting issues

Aim:

Carry out research to provide information and statistics on current and future issues in agricultural accounting

Products:

Survey of accounting methods including current and future issues

 

Idea 16:

Farm accounting as a policy instrument

Aim:

Carry out research on the usefulness of accounting as a policy instrument in for instance extension, structural policy, tax policy and environmental policy

Products:

List of useful incentives for promotion of agricultural accounting, suggestions to adapt farm accounting towards a tool for policy compliance, suggestions for simplification of paperwork in agriculture

Reflection on the ideas

The third reflection paper provides suggestions for the decision making on the further development of the RICA Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN). The reflection paper is submitted to the management committee of the RICA. The focus of this paper is on proposals for innovation. It contains specific project indications to determine action for this improvement.

The management of Farm Accountancy Data Networks (FADNs) has never been easy, examples of this are available in many countries. From the point of view of the FADNs, these examples can be interpreted as unsuccessful strategic management and insufficient involvement of important stakeholders, such as the financers. Interviews held by PACIOLI participants with their stakeholders reveiled interesting observations about this. Another important remark is that neither the Commission nor any other Member State plays any significant role in the strategic management of the national FADN at Member State level.

Policy makers in a ministry usually hamper in articulating their need for data in the future, which means that strategic planning for a FADN is not easy. The idea is proposed that policy makers should provide, for instance once a year, the policy documents and topics they expect to be on the agenda between today and for instance five years from now. It is clear that the content of such 'policy products' cannot be predicted very precisely. However, it is often possible to predict (at least some of) the topics. Knowledge about the 'policy products' in which FADN data will be used, helps significantly in the development of the data set and consequently the FADN as an instrument.

The third PACIOLI workshop also tried to identify some consequences of the three scenarios presented in the so-called 'Fischler paper' for RICA. The 'status-quo scenario' would have several consequences for the RICA, whereas the position of the RICA is not easy to predict under the 'radical-reform scenario'. The 'developing the 1992 approach scenario' is thought to be the most realistic scenario. It has three important aspects, of which the consequences have been discussed in more detail: towards higher competitiveness, towards an integrated rural policy and simplification.

Towards a programme

Sixteen 'project indications' are the outcome of papers presented and discussions held during the third PACIOLI workshop. Presented in a common format, they highlight the objectives and the results of the project. Looking at the individual proposals it must be realized that the projects are considerably interrelated. The projects should therefore be clustered in one programme.

At first glance it might be an option that the programme management will be performed by the RICA unit, supported by the RICA committee. As most of the proposals show, there is however a tendency in FADN management towards a more flexible, network-based way of working. A more informal network with a mixture of people from various organizations close to the 'working floor' with high 'Member State involvement', might be a good instrument to coordinate innovative actions in the reform of RICA.

The current PACIOLI group, extended with all the other (future) EU Member States, might be an effective platform for future FADN management. Maybe the concerted action PACIOLI can be transformed into something like the 'PACIOLI programme'.
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