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SURVEY RESULTS: How the Last 18 Months Have Shaped Adoption and Use of Accounting and Financial Software

18th Nov 2021
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All figures quoted in this article come from the 2021 GrowCFO Finance Function Survey. The survey gathered the thoughts and opinions of finance leaders across public, private, and not-for-profit sectors in start-up, SME, Mid-Sized, and Enterprise organisations.  

Education, Integration, Cloud Adoption and COVID: How the Last 18 Months Have Shaped Adoption and Use of Accounting and Financial Software

As we enter the final quarter in 2021, GrowCFO found this an opportune time to look back over the last 18 months and take stock of how senior finance professionals have adapted to COVID — and the role accounting software has played over that time.

They surveyed their members - Finance Directors and CFO's working within organizations spanning a range of industry sectors and sizes with key themes focused upon: Cloud, Integrations, and the Changing Working Environment.

The results showed that 93% of respondents had seamlessly adapted to remote working when the UK Government announced the first lockdowns — albeit in some instances with a couple of minor workarounds - of the respondents, just 1% stated they were unable to adapt. 

The Need for Change

In addition to the obvious adaptions driven by the pandemic, 50% of those surveyed feel there will be an additional need to change within 5 years - the common driver being growth and the system's ability to support organisations during the next phase of their development ambitions. The most satisfied were those using Cloud-based systems, in contrast, those with legacy on-premise solutions are less happy.

As the precedence for flexible working - hybrid or fully remote employees - has been set, tighter integration between accounting and finance software and other core business systems has never been more important. Yet, according to the survey, there is still a lot of work to be done:

Integrating Finance with the Rest of the Business

Based on responses to the survey, the most regularly adopted integrations are currently Expenses (21%), CRM (9%), and Reporting/BI (9%). However, finance teams are also starting to show early signs of integrating data from other environments and adopting approaches already used in other business areas, including Robotic Process Automation, Banking, HR, Payroll Software, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The stated focus for integration plans with other core business systems includes Advanced BI (41%), Workflows (39%), Mobile Expenses (33%), Cloud (33%), OCR (30%), and AI (29%).

Age-Old Issues Endure

While some positive changes to finance departments have come about due to COVID, some perennial problems still need to be resolved, such as the time it takes to close month-end and create management report packs. For example, some respondents say that it takes more than 15 days to close out end-of-month, while others can do it in a day. Similarly, respondents told us that creating a management report pack can take more than a week.

Although the intention is to take advantage of more advanced accounting software functionality, there's still a lot of misunderstanding amongst some finance leaders about what their current software can do, with respondents confusing hosted technologies with cloud-native applications. Furthermore, of those respondents using traditional technologies, 20% choose not to pay for updates unless there is relevant functional improvement. This resistance to upgrade could leave them exposed to data security breaches. 

The Future of Finance

Modern, highly automated accounting software is one way to achieve faster closeouts and develop more detailed analytical reporting — and the technology is there to help. Still, concerns about potential disruption and the time it would take to install new software prevent some people from making the change. The time taken to complete the transition varied considerably among respondents who modernized - most respondents (36%) said it took less than a month, with just 5% saying it was more than a year. Although it depends on the size and complexity of the installation, 75% of projects to replace accounting and financial software took under six months.

Choosing The Right Technology

For companies considering digital transformation to reduce costs, automate processes and improve financial reporting, Aqilla's Cloud Accounting Software Solution combines all the features and tools an effective and successful finance professional needs. 

Our "5 Users in 5 Days" Quick Start programme is a testament to just how rapidly you can modernize your approach. 

Visit our website to find out more and start your future today.

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