A survey conducted by finance technology specialist, The Access Group, has found that around two thirds of finance professionals working in UK businesses expect to adopt further technologies this year to support the finance and accounting practices of their team. The research involved more than 1,000 finance professionals, including CFOs, finance directors and managers working in the UK; it found 65% of finance leaders want to invest in technology, with cloud accounting software (24%), payments software (23%) and automation (16%) the top priorities for many.
In the same research, payments (26%), forecasting and budgeting (21%) and document processing (16%) were named as the least efficient areas of work for finance teams. While concerns about heavy workloads, inefficient processes and skills shortages were highlighted as some of the biggest challenges facing finance right now.
When looking into the reasons why leading finance professionals want to invest in technology, improving the workloads of their team and streamlining processes to free-up their time were common, while improving customer experience was also highlighted, especially when it comes to payments.
Rob Binns, CFO at The Access Group, says finance teams are investing in technology to support people, whether that’s their own teams or to benefit customers, to overcome their key challenges and to meet changing expectations in the workplace. He said:
“People working in finance have faced unimaginable pressures in the last 12 months as businesses look to them for support amid furloughs, cash-flow struggles and the ongoing economic uncertainty. Juggling priorities has always been difficult, but with the added pressures of covid-19, many finance teams are reaching breaking point and that’s one of the reasons why finance leaders are planning to invest in technology this year.
“It also comes at a time when both team and customer expectations around the use of technology have changed. Of course, before the pandemic, many of us used technology for everyday habits including shopping, dining and for socialising. But the pandemic accelerated the entire nation’s use and expectations around technology due to our reliance on it through the last 12 months. We use it at home, so now people expect to use it in the workplace and I think businesses are realising this.”
As well as increasing efficiencies, respondents stated other reasons driving the need for finance technology. These included gaining better business insights, helping to develop different business models and navigating all tasks from a central system.
Rob goes on to say:
“With the accounting technology available to finance teams, it can help overcome the key challenges around heavy workloads, inefficient processes and skills shortages that many respondents highlighted. Through automating processes and streamlining tasks, cloud accounting, automation, payments software, are all no-brainers if you have the budget to invest.
“Investing in people through technology is also part of a wider cultural shift in the industry as finance leaders look to help their teams focus their energy on the strategic value-added work, where their talents really lie.”