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FINDING FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY WITH MANAGED SERVICES

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By Mark Vivian, CEO, Claremont

 

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardship has left some businesses and their CFOs in dire need of streamlining their internal processes whilst also cutting costs. Finance departments in particular have not only been challenged to make their own processes more efficient, but also more agile.

Take the HMRC’s furlough scheme for example; finance departments were faced with the need to ensure that their organisation’s employees were paid correctly and on time, while also having to make sure they adhered to the Government’s specific regulatory requirements. At the same time, cash needs to be collected, invoices still need to be paid and the day-to-day needs to be kept up.

To add to the finance department’s woes, research from Gartner has found that finance processes are on average a business’s third slowest operating function, leading 73% of finance workers to claim they are under pressure to deliver faster results from their superiors when it comes to processes such as reporting and tax returns.

So, what can finance departments do about it? The answer may lie in IT. By choosing the right finance system and optimising it with a managed service provider, organisations can go a long way toward increasing both their finance department’s agility and efficiency.

 

Choosing the right finance system

When choosing the right finance system, there are number of important considerations businesses should take into account when it comes to boosting agility and efficiency, which will be largely centred around functionality.

For instance, when it comes to efficiency, businesses should consider whether there is a finance system available that provides them with a wide ranging set of integrated business applications, such as HR, Payroll, and CRM. Oracle’s E-Business Suite is a great example of this.

As part of their functionality consideration, businesses will also need to consider their specific use cases. For example, is the requirement to have a finance system capable of supporting global organisations working in multiple territories, with multi-currencies and multi-languages, and also local country legislation?

In terms of boosting agility, businesses will also need to consider whether they are happy to adopt largely standard “best practice” business processes, which usually necessitates business change, or whether to use customisation to the standard product so that it reflects the way your business works. In order to find the finance system that best suits their specific needs, businesses should look to consult a managed service provider (MSP).

 

Partnering with a Managed Service Provider

Partnering with an MSP will help enable organisations to get the most out of their IT environment, including their finance system. Software deployments are complex and will require a team of engineers, each with specific skill sets, to optimise. Finance directors have enough on their plate without having to worry about their finance systems under performing.

 

Managed service providers will work closely with both your finance and IT teams in four main areas:

  1. Incident Management: MSPs will provide “fix on fail” support when issues with financial applications occur, which will typically be against a Service Level Agreement for both responding to and resolving the Incidents.
  2. Problem Management: Here MSPs will get to the root of the problem that caused the Incident and resolve it so that the same Incidents don’t reoccur.
  3. Change Management: MSPs will also make sure that your finance applications are up to date and will make any necessary modifications that businesses may require as their needs change overtime, or new legislation is introduced.
  4. Optimisation: A good MSP will be proactive and make recommendations on how businesses can optimise their financial applications, highlighting were efficiencies can be made and costs reduced.

At Claremont, we were able to help the National Trust respond to the unprecedented changes that have taken place since March 2020 and develop a fully functional furlough solution within their Oracle financial applications. The National Trust naturally wanted to take advantage of the government furlough initiative to support their staff and protect their organisations as their sites began to close.

The solution was deployed rapidly and automatically calculated the rebate amount for each employee, gave each employee a professional standard of notification, and required minimal payroll intervention. The first payroll runs of the month began on the 16th April and by the 25th April the National Trust had successfully processed over 14,000 employees through their payrolls.

 

Obtaining peace of mind

The COVID-19 pandemic has put increased pressure on finance departments to boost operational efficiencies, cut costs and adhere to new legislative requirements. The last thing they need to be worrying about is insufficient IT systems. By partnering with a managed service provider, organisations, their finance departments and their IT departments can gain peace of mind that their finance systems will be optimised to suit their needs – leaving them to focus on their day jobs.

 

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Business

Accounting Automation in the Future

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Accounting automation is the process of streamlining repetitive tasks in financial processes. For example, some processes like invoicing are time-consuming and repetitive. Automation can reduce manual labor and save businesses both time and money. Also, it helps improve accuracy, reduces errors, and provides more accurate financial reporting.

Accounting automation in the future will be increasingly important for businesses to stay competitive. But every new change comes with both advantages and challenges. Let’s dive in to get ready for this future trend.

 

Potential Future Benefits of Accounting Automation

Increased Efficiency and Cost Savings

Accounting automation is a great way to increase efficiency and cost savings. For example, AI bookkeeping uses advanced algorithms to automate many accounting tasks. So, companies can track expenses, prepare financial reports, and more using AI.

It reduces the time needed for manual entry. So, businesses can spend fewer labor hours on tedious processes. They can increase efficiency by freeing up resources for more strategic work. It also helps reduce errors and inconsistencies associated with manual processes. So, the cost of compliance is lower because of greater accuracy.

 

Improved Accuracy and Reliability

Accounting automation can improve accuracy and reliability in accounting processes. For example, Automating bank reconciliation is less prone to errors from human mistakes or miscalculations. You can automate the process to identify discrepancies between the bank statement and accounting records. It helps to ensure that financial reports remain accurate and reliable. So businesses can take corrective action faster than processing data manually.

 

Streamlined Business Processes

Streamlined business processes involve eliminating unnecessary steps, reducing paperwork, and automating repetitive tasks. This allows businesses to focus on higher-value activities, such as developing new products, improving customer service, and developing strategic plans for the future.

 

Making a Better Decision

Accounting automation can enhance decision-making in 3 ways.

1. It enables businesses to access real-time information from multiple systems. So they can identify trends for better decision-making.
2. Automated accounting also helps with forecasting, budgeting, and auditing tasks. It enables businesses to be more proactive in their decision-making processes.
3. Also, automated accounting tools can integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. They can manage data across the enterprise and make concise decisions that are favorable to the company as a whole.

 

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Accounting automation can help businesses increase customer satisfaction by streamlining their processes and providing a more efficient customer experience. For example:
4. Automated accounting systems can automate tedious manual tasks such as invoicing, data entry, and payroll processing. This allows businesses to focus on other aspects of their operations that are more important for customer service.
5. Automated accounting systems can also provide customers with more accurate and timely financial information. The information can help them make better decisions about their finances.
6. Also, accounting automation enables businesses to respond quickly to customer inquiries. It helps reduce wait times and improve the overall customer experience. So, you can build better relationships with their customers.

 

Improved Accessibility

Accounting automation takes place online or comes with cloud-based solutions. So, you can access your information and do your job from anywhere instead of being confined to one spot.

 

Challenges to Implementing Accounting Automation in the Future

Cost of Technology Infrastructure Upgrades

Automating an accounting system often requires businesses to invest in new hardware and software, such as servers and other associated equipment. These upgrades come with a hefty price tag that may be difficult for small businesses to afford.

There are also extra costs, such as installation fees, setup charges, software licensing fees, cloud storage costs, and maintenance fees.

 

Training Requirements for Staff Members

Accounting automation involves using advanced technology to automate certain processes. So, it creates a need for trained staff members who can handle the new technology. Training requirements vary depending on the type of software used.

Some common training includes record-keeping procedures, software applications, and troubleshooting skills.

 

Regulatory Compliance Issues

Accounting automation can be a time-saver, but it also requires firms to be aware of the applicable rules and regulations. Companies must ensure that their automated systems are compliant with relevant laws and regulations such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and other applicable accounting standards.

Besides, they must also comply with legal requirements related to taxes, financial statements, and other reporting obligations.

So, businesses must consider the complexities of regulatory compliance when automating accounting.

 

Security and Data Protection Concerns

As businesses move their accounting processes to the cloud, they are exposed to a wide range of potential security risks. Data breaches can cause significant damage to the business’s financial and reputational integrity. Besides, the complexity of automated accounting systems can make it difficult to identify and detect suspicious activities or errors in the system.

To ensure data is kept secure, businesses must have strong measures in place to protect against unauthorized access, encryption, and regular backups of data.

Furthermore, companies must train their staff on the proper use of the system. It helps staff to know how to protect confidential information from being accessed or misused by unauthorized personnel.

Businesses may also need an experienced IT team to monitor and maintain the system to keep up with any changes or updates for optimal performance.

 

Final thoughts

Accounting automation has come a long way in the past few decades. It is likely to continue to advance in the future. As technology continues to evolve, more businesses will likely begin taking advantage of automation in their accounting processes. So, businesses should be aware of the potential challenges and prepare to stay competitive.

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Finance

Weathering the economic storm in 2023

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By

Nikki Dawson, Head of EMEA Marketing at Highspot

 

New year, new business challenges. When it comes to creating and converting leads into sales for a business, both the marketing and sales teams are critical. Both functions think differently but are equally important in driving growth and revenue. Now more than ever in the current economic climate alignment between the two to achieve business goals is vital to survival.

Entering 2023 it’s important we look back and pinpoint where there’s room for improvement within our business and between our teams. With this, I predict the majority of businesses will realise it’s now critical to get their teams to communicate, collaborate and align more effectively.

What we learned in 2022

Findings from a recent survey of sales and marketing professionals found that over half (52%) of sales and marketing leaders in the UK agree they don’t understand which marketing assets are driving results with potential prospects. For marketers, this lack of visibility over assets limited the amount of valuable oversight which would allow them to improve content and increase adoption.

As a result, we’re now left with over a quarter (29%) of marketers not feeling confident in their ability to demonstrate the ROI achieved by marketing initiatives. Due to this, 30% of those surveyed this year feel a lack of confidence in creating marketing assets that have demonstrable success at meeting specific business objectives and driving sales growth.

Equipping teams with the right tools and technology they need to achieve business objectives seems obvious, but the latest research reveals that over a third (34%) of marketers aren’t confident they have the tools they need to manage and maximise digital marketing initiatives. Furthermore, 30% of UK marketers believe that a lack of efficient technology and tools and inconsistent use of CRM (31%) are barriers to their company’s sales and marketing collaboration.

These are all crucial learnings for what marketers have identified as key barriers in their role, it’s now down to business leaders to listen and take action.

How was revenue impacted?

The lack of alignment between marketing and sales, and the limited visibility over how digital marketing initiatives performed in 2022 had a negative impact on businesses’ ROI. This, as well as not having a single source of truth for marketers and salespeople led to content chaos and became a pain point for both parties wanting to do their jobs effectively.

For business leaders, during a time when demonstrating and justifying marketing and sales spending is needed now more than ever, the gap between marketing content, salespeople and ROI is of great concern.

The year ahead

Misalignment between sales and marketing means, at best, energy and resources are being wasted. At worst, it leads to strategies directly contradicting each other and not being delivered, while team members get frustrated and potentially leave.

Sales enablement has proven that it can dramatically resolve these pain points and be the foundation for alignment. With 72% of both teams equally agreeing that implementing sales enablement to support sales and marketing is something they believe their company should consider in the near future. It’s safe to say that in 2023 may well be the year we see it come into the mainstream.

By design, sales enablement software bridges the gap to provide a platform for alignment, offering one source of truth for linking sales and marketing activity to revenue. This year, the research found that the vast majority, (71%) of sales and marketing professionals agree that a lack of alignment between their teams has had a negative impact on revenue, and 52% of sales and marketing leaders in the UK agree they don’t understand which assets are driving results with potential prospects.

It’s clear that the need for aligned business functions has never been greater and soon, marketers and salespeople will call for AI-powered sales enablement as an essential tool to do their job effectively.

Now is the time…

If businesses want to optimise their work and maximise profits in the turbulent economic climate, they need to focus on driving change from the front by aligning their sales and marketing teams. Smart investment decisions that adapt processes based on buyer engagement with marketing content, and seller activities will be crucial in the coming months.

Having a sales enablement process in place can provide the necessary framework to begin coherently organising, finding, sharing, customising, and analysing content. Sales enablement platforms can be a one-stop shop for sales processes and marketing insights and it’s no longer something that can be overlooked by businesses.

Final thoughts

The need for optimisation has never been greater. In order to maximise profits sales and marketing functions need to work together seamlessly. This year we can expect to see more businesses utilising sales enablement technology to achieve key milestones. With this, marketers and salespeople alike will recognise sales enablement as a crucial day to day tool that is just as essential as the CRM they’re using today.

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