By Paul Sparkes, commercial director at iplicit
Digital transformation is often at the heart of streamlining operations, saving time and money, boosting growth, and maximising resources – and technology investments have rocketed in recent years to help companies thrive and expand.
In fact, recent reports have revealed that Britain’s investment in the FinTech industry reached new heights in 2021 – securing £17.7bn worth of deals in the first half of the year alone – and this is because demand is ever-growing for this type of technology.
But what role does accounting software play in this puzzle, and could legacy systems be holding firms back from truly achieving their goals – adding to poor performance, a lack of productivity, and competitors stealing the edge? Paul Sparkes, commercial director at iplicit, shares his thoughts on the topic.
Accounting software to fuel business expansion
For organisational owners, the world of technology and digital transformation can be a hazy – and overly saturated – one. With so much information out there, it can easily feel quite overwhelming to know what and who to trust.
It’s a double-edged sword, which if handled incorrectly can send a company into a state of flux.
The truth is that investments are needed in order to grow, but companies not only have to make sure that the commitment is right, but that it’s applied to the areas of the business that really need attention.
For finance professionals, it’s not uncommon to be sold ‘the next big thing’ to transform their legacy accounting software, but many find that while they’ve been promised the dream, what they’ve purchased is in fact the stuff of nightmares.
Clunky, ageing – and often not even cloud-based – technology that hampers, instead of facilitates, progress. And as a result, this can really hold organisations hostage from moving forwards on their corporate trajectory. Just because it backs up to the cloud, doesn’t mean that it’s cloud-native; leaving many accounting and finance professionals with a costly and time-consuming process to rectify.
Flexible accounting technology to suit ever-changing needs
If firms implement a ‘mis-sold solution’ – or ‘fake cloud’ as it’s known within the industry – they quickly find that they’re being made to adapt their business and IT to the capabilities of the software, instead of the other way around.
In addition, customers are often locked into a lengthy contract and are unable to adapt their agreement to suit their developing needs – which makes it more difficult for them to leave when they realise the software is unable to flex and meet the evolving demands of the enterprise.
This inflexibility is not only frustrating for staff, but it can have damaging results on revenue growth and customer retention, too.
In fact, it can often feel like stepping back in time when working with an ageing, on-premise solution, which doesn’t really make sense in today’s modern world. Technology decision-makers use cloud-native applications, on a daily basis, in their personal lives – from smartphones to tablets to cars – and their understanding of cloud-native benefits is increasingly intuitive and savvy. It makes life easier and is reliable, and FDs of mid-sized organisations are becoming increasingly aware that this should be mirrored by the accounting and finance software that’s in use in their professional environment.
In short, unagile, poor-performing and ageing accounting technology – with an unsustainable volume of manual workflow intervention, a lack of real-time reporting, and security and speed complexities when accessing remotely – quickly leads to an organisation outgrowing the system, which effectively puts a blockade in the way of them advancing forwards. It’s also very costly and time-consuming to upgrade versions and complex to manage.
The benefits of cloud native accounting software
Effective cloud-based accounting and finance systems should offer ‘one version of the truth’. With one centralised place to control budgets, apportion resources, carry out advanced reporting, spot trends and more, this not only allows for effortless adaptability to new markets, approaches, and ideas, but it also provides a gateway for scalability.
Cloud native accounting technology not only supports the geographical flexibility of authorised users being able to access intuitive and accessible dashboards, reports with real-time data, and documents from any location, but it offers seamless integration too.
While many older solutions limit the extent to which a company can enhance and streamline its processes, their modern counterparts act as an ‘enabler’ – automating mundane administrative processes and freeing up headspace for staff to spend on the strategic side of finance management. The result isn’t only savvier and more efficient processes but increased staff productivity and elimination of overwhelming workloads.
It’s important to note the difference between ‘true’ and ‘fake’ cloud here though, as the latter may often come disguised as the former – and it should be avoided at all costs.
Sometimes referred to as SoSaaS – ‘Same-old-Software-as-a-Service’ – this sees technology providers take an adapted on-premise version of the system and host it on hardware in an off-site location. Essentially, this is a glorified version of the software the business previously had, which doesn’t have access to global updates or digital-first capabilities – making it unsuitable for today’s fast-paced, hybrid working practices and modern-day accounting and finance professionals.
Ultimately, agile accounting tools are not only more cost-effective for organisations looking to get results, but they can help to garner improved outcomes and save a lot of time, money, and resource both now and in the future too.
Commercial director for true cloud accounting software business iplicit, Paul has nearly 30 years of experience in accounting and business software, helping thousands of organisations through specialist, tech-based consultancy.