What is a Rural Asset Management Plan?
A Rural Asset Management Plan is a tool designed to help rural business owners plan for the future by reviewing and analysing the economic, environmental and social assets of their business, and thinking about how they can best be used. It was designed in response to requests at the CLA’s 2018 Rural Business Conference for a tool to help businesses meet their full potential, whether through diversification, expansion or other methods.
The RAM plan guidance and template are designed for use by CLA members of all sizes and business type.
Why should I make a RAM plan?
The process of writing a RAM plan carries several benefits, including saving time later:
- While a RAM plan is not a statutory plan, it can be a useful supporting document when applying for planning permission, environmental land management schemes, other Government funding, etc. It might form the basis/starting point for these applications.
- A RAM plan may also provide the starting point for a business plan, a natural capital audit, or a succession plan.
- Looking at the environmental, social and financial aspects of a business together will help you take a step back and assess your business in an integrated manner, for the long-term.
- It will prompt you to consider how the business may diversify or expand to realise its economic, environmental, and social potential. This might lead you to consider actions that you would not otherwise be aware of.
- As a RAM plan will sum up the essential information about your business and the benefits it is providing, it may be useful in facilitating co-operation with other businesses and the local community.
Where do I start?
A RAM plan has four sections: a vision, an asset audit, an analysis of strengths and weaknesses, and details of plans for the future. The main guidance document goes through each of these sections and explains in detail what could be included. It also provides prompting questions, examples, and lists of things to consider.
It does not require any specialist software. You can complete a RAM plan in a Word document, or even use pen and paper. We recommend that you keep your RAM plan in a format that is easy to edit, as you may wish to return to this every few years to measure your progress and set new goals.
The CLA have published a rural asset audit template in MS Word format, for members to download, fill in and save. Our template may prompt you to record something that you might not otherwise have considered as an asset. However, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ template to suit every business, so you may need to edit the template to ensure this works for you.
You do not need any specialist skills or knowledge to write your RAM plan, just knowledge of your own business and access to your financial data. Before implementing your action plans, however, we recommend that you consult professional advice. You may wish to contact the CLA advisory service at this point.