14th Congress Proceedings
Managing The Change Through Benchmarking Best Practice
Sentry Farms is a private limited company operating in the UK. Working with a large range of landowners - which have an equally large range of objectives - by way of numerous operational leases, the company is currently producing over 100,000 tonnes of produce in the form of Cereals, Oilseeds, Pulses, Root Crops and Milk. Farming in the UK is traditionally a very visible business which in times of good profits, have allowed image and emotion to be the driver behind a lot of the decision making process. This has been good news for the peripheral supply industries and costs left uncontrolled frequently rose towards income levels. With current world market prices making the high prices of the late 80’s and 90’s very distant memories, cost structures and production systems have and are changing within the agricultural industry in order for its component farm businesses to survive. Working with commercial rental equivalents, Sentry has equally had to change, and change quickly in order to survive. Part of the process of managing the change has been the direction and support Sentry has provided for its 20 managers and trainees, who are the key people in the decision making process at farm level. One aspect of this direction and support has been to encourage best practice in its farming businesses through its internal benchmarking systems, known and published internally as ‘4 Thought’. It is now in its 10th year of production and believed to be unique in the UK in that it takes benchmarking beyond the usual headline financial parameters, and looks at providing support for the short term, day to day decision makers as well.