At its core, business is all about supply and demand, but as financial practices and professional services look to bring value to market, today they are finding that industry has changed dramatically.
Post COVID-19, businesses and the professional services sectors that serve them are now more accelerated, complex and competitive than ever before. Research from McKinsey shows that industry’s response to the pandemic created a new, ‘bionic’ normal. Digital Transformation and global contexts say the advisors and counselors to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions have “pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever.”
“Automation and understanding the role that technology, data, software and the cloud can play in today’s business processes is central to scale and innovation — the very features of a business, that together with human capital, create a distinctive and strategic advantage,” says Ashley Ellington, Director at Times 3 Technologies, an agile, local IT company that helps people and businesses using intuitive cloud software through Sage.
“Research just in reveals businesses can shorten close process times by 36 percent, simply by switching from spreadsheets to integrated cloud financial management,” says Ellington. Times 3 Technologies is a Sage Platinum Partner servicing clients both nationally and in Africa. The market leader for integrated accounting, payroll, and payment systems, Sage supports the ambition of entrepreneurs across the world.
“The ‘Close The Books’ survey is a fascinating study of 1,600 finance and accounting professionals which reveals that closing the books is a key pain point for many organisations. 60% of entrepreneurs who responded say that this financial process takes over a week to close monthly. They also say that the processes they use are often delayed because information vital to business direction isn’t accessible,” says Ellington.
The survey also shows appetite for cloud financial systems has increased because businesses using cloud software have adapted more easily to a digital close with sales professionals who are more comfortable working remotely than those using on-premises software.
“Having the right technology in place enables finance and accounting teams to speed the close and gain faster insights as they evolve from being historians to visionary business leaders,” says Ellington.
The survey found the top obstacles impacting the close process were data manipulation in spreadsheets and data imports/exports. These manual tasks have a significant impact on the time to close – slowing the process and leading to businesses making decisions based on stale information. In fact, those businesses most impacted by spreadsheet manipulation have a close process that is 36% longer than those only slightly impacted.
Similarly, the time spent on each manual data import or export adds up and contributes to a slower close. Respondents who were most impacted by manual data imports and exports on average had a close process that is 25% longer than those who were only slightly impacted.
Cloud financial management systems provide users with opportunities to eliminate or reduce these manual tasks. They are designed to enable companies to complete key tasks like consolidations, accruals, and allocations directly in the system – as opposed to maintaining a separate spreadsheet for these tasks. Cloud-based systems also offer application programming interfaces (APIs) that make it easier to connect with other business systems to automate more of their data imports/exports.
“Today’s finance leaders are being called on to not only report the numbers, but to provide strategic guidance for their businesses,” says Ellington. “Long, onerous close processes not only dampen team morale, but impede an organisation’s decision-making when it can’t get current, accurate information at critical times.”
A key trend seen in this year’s research was an increase in companies planning to move financials to the cloud. 58% of respondents currently use a cloud or hybrid accounting system. Of those still using on-premises solutions, 70% were planning to move to the cloud – up 27% relative to last year’s survey. This increase was likely driven by opportunities to shorten the close process and lessons from the global pandemic.
“By eliminating legacy systems, paper based systems and spreadsheets, businesses can make more effective use of valuable resources, including time. At the same time, Sage Intacct reduces errors introduced through data capture or data transfer,” Ellington advises.
Sage Intacct is aimed at the midmarket financial sectors, with strong financials and reporting capabilities covering Procurement, Order Management, Fixed Assets and Inventory. In addition, Sage Intacct provides solutions for businesses in certain verticals such as Project Financial management, Project Costing and billing.
The digitally transformative software-as-a-service is moreover used by general finance and project oriented professionals to make businesses more agile from a financial perspective. “Sage Intacct is aimed at businesses looking for a SaaS solution that is fast and easy to implement and that provides quick returns on investment,” Ellington says, and adds: “Because the solution is SaaS based, Sage Intacct requires no hardware or infrastructure and low-to-zero maintenance.”
Financial data can be integrated across the entire business, and all new data is immediately available via the cloud. “Instead of waiting for weeks, reporting can be done almost instantaneously, giving business leaders a clear vision of the business as it is today, rather than what it was two weeks ago,” says Ellington.
“The massive benefit of a SaaS solution like Sage Intacct is that it eliminates legacy systems and disparate islands of information across the business that could be paper-based systems and/or spreadsheets. In short, Sage Intacct is a transformative tool that enables businesses to make more effective use of resources while reducing the risk of error, but in a connected and collaborative way,” Ellington explains.
“Converting to a more automated system brings all the data together, and in this way results in a cost-effective, integrated view of core financial and business metrics. This transformative business process helps businesses cut costs, save time, and delivers a real-time insight that improves business decision making,” Ellington says. “Better, smarter, connected and agile processes enable much greater innovation, and frees financial professionals to focus on what matters now — customer service, the details and future-forward strategies.”
Gartner Peer Insights indicates that Sage Intacct has earned a score of 4.4 out of 5 across nearly 100 customer ratings and reviews, the most of anyone in this market. 90% of our customer ratings on Peer Insights for Sage Intacct are either 4 or 5 stars.