Choosing the right finance technology partner for SME growth
According to a recent study from the Parliament Street Think Tank, over two thirds of SMEs say they felt let down by their banks during the pandemic, citing feelings of frustration that they did not receive the right level of support and communication to help them navigate the crisis.
SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, accounting for three fifths of employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector. Yet, they don’t have the same resources as larger businesses. Many depend on their external partners, banks, tech providers and consultants, to help them achieve their goals.
As many as 55% of SMEs are actively considering a new banking provider - and it’s only a matter of time before they review all external partners to ensure they are getting the best support possible.
The pandemic underlined the importance of technology in today’s world
Many SMEs are now reshaping their strategies in the wake of the pandemic, and asking whether their current partners will enable them to achieve their goals. Those with an eye on growth are likely to be bolstering their HR departments, their marketing efforts and their finance teams’ capabilities. Some will also be looking to automate more of their processes to improve efficiency without increasing complexity. It means they will need a tech partner who can provide the right level of support as they look to scale up.
One problem we often see is that teams in different areas of the business are often using disparate systems from various providers, so the support they receive can be disjointed. Although there’s a temptation to stick with what you know, even if it’s clunkier, a good finance tech partner will guide you through the implementation process and help you make the most of the software’s features and how they can benefit teams across the business, not just in finance.
The advantage of the SaaS (software as a service) model is that implementation times are usually much quicker compared to traditional on-premise software, and you can add new functionalities according to your business’ needs when required.
A tech partner that combines a breadth of products, accessible via one platform, with in-depth industry knowledge is also beneficial for SMEs aspiring to grow. It gives you the confidence that your finance management system will work with your payroll, HR and other software harmoniously, giving you complete oversight of performance across the business.
The pandemic only underlined the importance of technology in today’s world, whether it be supporting online meetings or providing the data businesses need to be agile and make effective decisions.
As your company expands, your team will require more from your tech provider(s). It’s important to see them as an extension of your team, on-hand to solve any problems and help you get the most from the software. A tech partner also listens and takes on board your ideas and suggestions. As experts in your industry, they can play a vital role by continually improving technology to meet your evolving requirements.
The UK’s SMEs have, in some respects, reacted more nimbly to Covid-19 than some larger organisations – in this case, their size has made adapting to change simpler, enabling them to put themselves in a better position to take advantage of growth opportunities.
As mentioned, many SMEs have taken the step to adjust their business strategies in response to the pandemic – the most predominant change being cost reductions. However, other, more positive, moves have been made including the introduction of new products and services, and, crucially, the adoption of digital technologies. These new strategies, as the Enterprise Research report from 2021 suggests, have supported SMEs efforts to identify new ways of meeting customer demand and pivoting to new business models. Finding the right partners to support those changes, might just be their next step.