Payroll leads mid-market accounting software spikeby
Exhibitors on the show floor at AccountingWEB Live Expo were reporting a surge in demand for mid-market and ERP solutions, with payroll leading the way.
Ahead of the Coventry Expo, AccountingWEB’s insight programme had already identified a spike in larger businesses reviewing their payroll options. But developers including BrightPay, Xledger and iplicit all reported growing demand among prospects in mid-size organisations.
Payroll changes in larger businesses
Our initial survey earlier this year found that 22% of larger businesses and practices were planning to replace or upgrade their payroll software vendors this year. Payroll managers carried a heavy processing load during the pandemic and according to BrightPay’s Ann Tighe, trying to manage payroll and furlough claims during periods of lockdown proved difficult.
CIPP business development executive Daniel Cull confirmed the scale of the challenge, with the payroll institute fielding 2-3x the usual number of technical queries by email and phone at times when new restrictions and support schemes were announced.
“That shows a pattern of worry,” he said. “Often if there’s a payroll issue, it falls to the payroll manager alone to sort it out.”
Cull suggested that payroll professionals were getting more recognition for the amount of work they do – potentially with tangible support for upgrading payroll systems.
According to Tighe, many mid-size companies were considering bringing payroll back in-house and coming to the event in search of new payroll solutions.
Mid-market appetite for cloud
The standard payroll modules in small business bookkeeping platforms don’t always meet the needs of companies with varied workforces and pay scales, but the appetite for more sophisticated, cloud-based systems wasn’t limited to payroll alone, according to iplicit director Paul Sparkes.
“Cloud accounting has taken off among small businesses and users have become more educated,” he said. “But with Covid and the resulting movement to hybrid working, the cloud debate is no longer part of the discussion. They want to have cloud systems to support the needs of remote working.”
The barriers to change in the mid-market are more functional, with some businesses still reluctant to abandon bespoke desktop set-ups for solutions pieced together from Xero, Sage or QuickBooks app marketplaces.
The iplicit roadmap has been to support specific market sectors with functionality that isn’t handled so well by the bookkeeping platforms. These verticals include charities and not for profits looking for funds accounting and SORP reporting, professional services and consultancy markets, and multi-entity/multi-currency trading organisations that also manange stock – the latest addition to iplicit’s cloud accounting program.
The launch of the iplicit stock module was fortunate, Sparks added, because it followed immediately on the heels of the announcement that QuickBooks Desktop would no longer be supported in the UK after 2023.
“We were a bit surprised about the lack of choice in the mid-market space. It’s just not there. By having stock in one system, we can present a mix of valuation methods – standard, first in-first out or average – and reflect those valuations immediately in the balance sheet. That’s when integration becomes important.”
If you are a mid-market finance manager and have experienced some of these issues, you can help AccountingWEB dig more deeply into what’s happening out there by taking part in our ongoing insight research project. Just follow the link below…
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AccountingWEB’s Editor at large has been with the site since 1999, rising from news editor to editor in chief, global editor and head of insight. As a roving editor, he continues to investigate the profession's use of technology around the world. He devotes his spare time to technology history and an oddball collection of stringed instruments...