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Clients’ 4 Biggest Digital Headaches and How Accountants Can Cure Them

29th Aug 2023
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Xledger is a leading provider of next-generation cloud-based finance software. 

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To say digital transformation has been a revolution in accounting is now a well-worn cliche, but behind the trend towards online finance lies a much messier reality. The cloud is not some magic wand that accountants can wave and make all of their clients' business headaches go away. In fact, partial, incomplete or inefficient digitisation risks having the opposite effect, adding more systems, confusion and inefficiency to already time-consuming processes.


xledger UK

To understand what’s really going on with business transformation, we surveyed 1,000 finance professionals to find out more about the digital state of play and what impact that has on day-to-day operations. Here we explore the four major digital challenges faced by businesses and how accountants can address them.


1. Data blindness

The larger a business, the more data the various parts of the business generate, from sales to invoices, approvals and reports. For teams juggling multiple systems and manual processes, this means that finding key information can be a frustrating chase from platform to platform.

  • 55% of in-house finance professionals can’t access data as quickly as they need it during critical periods 
  • 69% of those who were yet to adopt cloud computing said they can only access data slowly 
  • But 60% of those who had adopted cloud computing, either partially or fully, were able to access data very quickly.

The key message here is that cloud makes a difference – integrated data online enables systems to share updates instantly, ensuring a consistent picture of a business’s financial health when they need it.


2. Lack of forward visibility

In a volatile economic climate, the ability to understand the impact of major decisions is essential – and a key value-driver for the accounting and finance function. However, as businesses grow, this task becomes more complex, time-consuming and arduous.

Our research found that availability and access to the most appropriate forecasting tools is not always fully implemented across the finance function, with the majority of respondents still ill- or under-equipped to accurately forecast to the level they need to in the modern working environment. 

  • Only 22% of respondents claimed to have all of the tools they need to accurately forecast 
  • 50% have some, but not all of the tools they need
  • 9% don’t trust the tools they currently use 
  • 13% use outdated tools 

The challenge depends on the systems and structures that these businesses rely on. Working with partial or disconnected solutions can quickly muddy the data for forecasting, with key information stuck in siloes.

Accountants have a role to play in shaping the solutions for clients to get the foresight they need, which should be comprehensive, connected and specific to the needs of clients.


3. Digital dread

Change is hard – and when it comes to financial systems it can also be risky, expensive and time-consuming. Approaching digital transformation without a clear plan, benchmark for success or implementation plan creates predictable feelings of unease and concern among clients.

  • 30% stated that digital transformation causes them concern because the tools they currently have are familiar 
  • 34% stated that a long changeover period could cause problems, delays, backlogs, and productivity issues 
  • 12% said that they were open to digital transformation, but only if they have the right product or vendor  

With around a third of clients dragging their feet on change, it's up to accountants to take a leading role in showing them the way forward. This should include helping them understand the needs of their business, triaging the software available and creating a robust plan for implementation that minimises risk.


4. Incomplete transformation

Mixing manual and digital processes leads to a maddening mix of workarounds, half-solutions and opportunities for human error to creep in.

  • Our research found that just 11% of both accountants and in-house professionals have digitised 90% or more of their finance function
  • 21% have digitised between 21% - 50% 
  • 36% have digitised between 51% - 70% 
  • 29% have digitised 71% - 90% 

This trend ties into all of the headaches above, leading to poor data access, lack of visibility and a lack of confidence in systems that can’t perform to their full potential due to the lack of integration with the manual processes around them.

Part of the issue is the ongoing reliance of many businesses on spot solutions as they grow, adding on new tools as problems arise. Creating an efficient financial process requires a consistent approach – using a comprehensive platform that can manage the widest range possible of financial tasks, while integrating with specialist tools as needed.


Clearing the path for digital transformation

Making the most of digital transformation requires more than just adding on software – it needs planning, strategy and intentional management. Accountants are ideally placed to take on a guiding role for clients when it comes to change. With the right tools, this shift can be a win-win: clients can work with the right tools and processes to improve their efficiency and visibility, while firms can cut down on manual workarounds and build value-driven relationships.

Xledger’s specialist accounting and financial management software is designed around the needs of growing businesses, centralising the core financial functions that can drive their success in a single platform, particularly when they outgrow more entry-level accounting tools.


To find out more about how you can help your firm and clients get more out of digital, book a demo or contact Phil Chalmers on [email protected] to learn more.