Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses

Cooperatives March 07, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Authors: Phil Kenkel, Oklahoma State University,, and Bill Fitzwater,
Oklahoma State University

The board should also analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the firm. Is the cooperative serving its customers? Few firms can afford to provide all of the services customers might want. Not all service needs of customers are unreasonable, however. Many increased services are sound business practices. The board should routinely make independent inquiries to determine that customer services are adequate. Some specific areas for assessment include:

  • Frequency of sale contacts
  • Frequency and promptness of shipments
  • Adequacy of cash discounts
  • Responsiveness to damage claims or inferior products
  • Packaging and containers

Human resources are important strengths, and unfortunately, sometimes major weaknesses. Employees who take pride in and derive satisfaction from their work and who are properly compensated are important to business success. Some questions that the board should ask in appraising the condition of the personnel policies are:

  • Do employees feel encouraged to offer suggestions?
  • Do the proper people participate in planning?
  • Does each position have a written description that is used when hiring new employees?
  • Are salaries and wages comparable with those paid by similar firms in the area for similar work?
  • Is there a defined salary level for each type of job?
  • Are employees encouraged to participate in training activities?
  • Is the organizational structure consistent with the objectives and functions of the firm?
  • Are the functions, authorities and relationships of various units clearly established and understood?
  • Are working conditions conducive to maximum effort?

  • Step 2: Develop Objectives within KPAs
  • Step 3: Preparing Budgets
  • Step 4: Identify Controls to Monitor Progress

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  • Rural Cooperatives magazine, Rural Development, Business and Cooperative Programs, USDA - This bimonthly magazine contains articles and news items relevant to agricultural and non-agricultural cooperatives. An archive provides access to past issues of the magazine from 1998 to 2011.
  • Directory of Farmer Cooperatives, Service Report 22, USDA Rural Development, October 2013 - This directory contains a list, by state, of almost 1,500 farmer-owned marketing, farm supply, service, fishery and bargaining cooperatives. The information includes the cooperative’s contact information, type of cooperative and products that they sell. An online directory is updated every month.


This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.