Ease of Use

Red Sky Farm Performance Analysis has been designed so that there is a logical and intuitive method for entering data and printing reports. From the first experience that you have with Red Sky when a wizard will lead you through the setup process for a new farm through to the explicit tool tips and comparative information that will make entering data straightforward, the entire process has been designed with ease of entry as paramount.

In addition the Red Sky CD-ROM includes a comprehensive tutorial on all facets of using Red Sky Farm Performance Analysis. There are both screen shots and commentary for all screens, which should mean users who have some passing familiarity with MS Word and MS Excel are able to enter data in Red Sky.

Red Sky is a web-enabled application with desktop data entry and report writing functions. This means that after downloading Red Sky from the website or after loading the program from a CD-ROM that the software is resident on your computer. The only times that you need to dial-up a web connection are when you wish to register a login name for a Farmer/Client or are ready to produce your reports for a Farm. This is required to upload your data for secure storage in our database, confirm whether there is a fully paid license (or request payment if no license has been purchased), as well as to formulate and release the reports to you. These reports then remain resident on your computer. You will also be encouraged to synchronise your data at regular intervals to ensure that the benchmark data being generated for everyone's benefit is up to date with the most recent data.

The design of Red Sky has been based on the premise that anyone with a passing familiarity with computers should be able to use the software with relative ease. A wizard will lead you through the steps to set up a farmer/client followed by the farm to be analysed and then the actual year for which data will be entered. After that you progressively move from tab to tab filling in the white cells as required until a full year’s data has been entered. After this the reports could be generated or an additional year’s data entered. Alternatively data from other farms could be entered prior to making a dial-up web connection.

Benchmarking data will be available from the database and this can be accessed during the dial-up web connection. There will be a wide number of benchmark data available to all users of Red Sky for districts across New Zealand and Australia, although initially it will require sufficient people to use the program before a comprehensive list can be published. Benchmark data will only be available once there are at least 6 sets of data within the group. As a result, to publish a ‘Top 10%’ benchmark there would need to be 60 sets of data in the group to ensure a minimum 6 sets made up the ‘Top 10%’.

There are six sources of help to improve your experience when using Red Sky and these include:

• tool tips that fully describe the relevance of various cells and which are accessed by resting your cursor over the left hand column on the screen;

• directions at the bottom of most screens that describes the relevance of the data being entered and directs you to the next screen once the present one has been completed;

• comparison data (accessed via the Comparison button at the bottom of the screen) that allows you to view other year’s data alongside the one that you are presently completing. This could include the previous year for the existing farm or the average for the district, either of which may assist in entering the present year’s data;

• checklists for both getting started and for checking your data entry before printing reports.  These checklists are available from this website under the Checklist & Definitions tab;

• an electronic user manual that ensures rapid access to details on all aspects of the program. This includes numerous screen shots and pictorial descriptions on how to operate Red Sky; and

• the Red Sky CD-ROM which includes a comprehensive tutorial on all facets of operating Red Sky.

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