In July 1984 on their family beef cattle and broad acre grain farming property "Fairfields" near Wandoan in Queensland, Lance and Jenny Skerman were tired of trying to make mainstream accounting products meet their farm business management needs. They advertised for a programmer to design specific farm management software and got a graduate engineer from Jackson (Queensland), Mark Leahy.
Like most farmers, Lance and Mark could turn their talents to many things. Lance created the software design and Mark did the coding (initially on a Commodore 64). When Mark wasn't programming he was lending a hand around the property on the family farm in Jackson. Mark is still a key member of our team today.
The Skerman’s produced their first farm management system, McTavish's Cookie Jar, for their own use at Fairfields. When the neighbours caught wind of what was going on, it was the first time farmers had seen a computer do something useful that was also simple to understand. The Skerman’s decided to test the product for commercial release, and the tests were such a success that AGDATA Systems was formed.
In 1985, Lance's brother Greg joined the team as a casual employee and a shared office was rented in Toowoomba.
In 1986, AGDATA Systems formed business alliances with various hardware suppliers and started selling computer hardware to compliment the software. They moved into a new office in Toowoomba to support the explosive growth of the business. To meet the increasing demand for business tools within the Ag sector, they developed The Herd Manager for MS-DOS and implemented it for King Ranch Australia, Inverary Poll Herefords, Gunnadoo Charolais and others. A budgeting tool was added to McTavish's Cookie Jar at that time.
In 1987, the very first networked version of AGDATA's software was delivered to the Santa Gertrudis Breeders Association.
Two years later in 1989, Greg took a permanent position in the team along with the company's first receptionist. AGDATA Systems also engaged in a Joint Venture with NSW Agriculture to develop Phoenix Farm Management.
In 1990 Phoenix for DOS V6, Phoenix Farm Management V6 and Phoenix Commercial V6 were released.
The popularity of the product forced the business to move yet again in 1991 to AGDATA Australia's current location.
The company’s next step was to develop the ability to export out of Phoenix into other accounting business applications. Phoenix Exporter was developed for that purpose
1992 saw the release of Phoenix for DOS V7, Phoenix Farm Management V7 and Phoenix Commercial V7.
The preliminary work on developing for the Windows environment commenced in 1995 at about the same time that the NSW Carr government abolished Farm Cheque and the Phoenix Farm Management Joint Venture.
1996 - 97
Phoenix for Windows V1 was released in 1996-7 and the company took it's first look at a mapping program via a distribution agreement with a third party application. Budgeting was added to Phoenix for Windows V1.3 in 1998.
With the Millennium bug scare not even raising an issue for the team at AGDATA, we were also one of the first software packages on the market ready to meet the demands of GST in February 2000. Phoenix for Windows 2000+ V2.0 was available at that time with Customers and Suppliers embedded.
AGDATA welcomed Lance and Jenny's son Brendan (now the Production Director) into the team in April 2000 as the dedicated Training Manager. Brendan was injected into the deep end having to co-ordinate the GST seminars across the country. On any particular day, the company had up to three GST seminars running with the largest seminar having 240 people in attendance (Clare, South Australia).
What some would argue was the accounting industry's first cloud platform, the Phoenix Warehouse service was offered in 2001.
Glenn Skerman, our Managing Director today, also joined the company in January 2001.
Phoenix Gateway V3 was released in October 2002. The distribution agreement with the third party mapping application ceased that year and AGDATA commenced work on its own farm mapping program.
In 2003, Phoenix Farm Management for Windows was released which included the newly released Mapping module.
2005 saw the introduction of the Australian National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) and AGDATA released Livestock. Our client base continued to grow warranting the need for a Signature Support Plan and in October that year Phoenix Gateway V4 was released for public consumption
2008 - 09
2008 was a very important year for the company as it went about designing and preparing for the implementation of Phoenix Live, AGDATA Australia's hosted cloud offering. Phoenix Live was one of the first commercially available cloud accounting platforms on the market.
The Phoenix Cropping module was released the same year. Phoenix Gateway V5 was released in October 2008 and Phoenix Live went public early in 2009.
A new Phoenix production module, Grazing, was released in 2010 and its integration with the Mapping and Livestock modules was warmly welcomed by the marketplace.
AGDATA Australia was contracted to run training in Sudan in May 2010.
In 2012, Phoenix Gateway V6 was released providing users with greater functionality and efficiencies such as the Gadget Dashboard.
Our clients began to experience our new rolling release of upgrades so that new functionality was made available as it was completed and not having to wait four years for a major release. Signature Service Plan and Phoenix Accountant Network subscribers got access to new upgrades earlier than those waiting for the General Release.
V7 R1 was released to subscribers in January 2014.
V7 R2 was released to subscribers in May 2014.
V7 went to General Release in September 2014.
A significant function that became available with V7 was 3 dimensional mapping and many new financial reports. A time saving benefit of this version was the 'Fill Feature' in Financials.
V8 R1 was released to subscribers in November 2015. Some of the benefits that came with that release were improvements to the way changes to the Fuel Tax Credit rates were updated. You also saw the Video Tutorials being made available via the Help Tab, making it easier to get help when you need it. The spacial data library was given a refresh and new data sources added.
Direct bank feeds were rolled out to V8 customers to customers of Rabobank, NAB, St George Bank, Bank of Melbourne and BANKSA.
The business was awarded the title of Winner of the Regional Online Hero competition conducted by the Regional Australia Institute. The judges commended AGDATA for our innovative approach and use of digital platforms to boost farm production and output, helping transform the agriculture industry in regional Australia.
Phoenix 9 was released on November 13th 2017 bringing with it a large number of new banks providing bank feeds into Phoenix. Phoenix V6 reached end of life in October 2017 and was removed from the supported version list.
You also saw a significant change to the way our customers pay for the software. A move to the subscription payment model mean't the cost of entry into Phoenix is significantly easier to manage. Accountants also breathed a sigh of relief, because having all their clients on the latest version mean't version control issues are eliminated (One less overhead for them).
Phoenix Grazing was incorporated into the Phoenix Livestock product making it more streamlined and cheaper for you.
The team continue to look for ways we can make your life easier. Mobile development and integration is in progress. A significant delivery in 2018 was the inclusion of carcase data analysis in the Livestock product.
Work on the embedding of the KeyPay Payroll product within the Phoenix suite commenced to meet legislative requirements for Single Touch Payroll 01 Jul 2019.
Thank you for your business over the years! We look forward to continuing to innovate and work with all stakeholders in the industry to ensure that you get what you need to do your job as efficiently and productively as possible.