When the global pandemic sped up a shift to remote working, we've barely been able to move for blogs and articles about how to adapt to these new ways of working.
We’ve heard countless stories about both the positive and negative impacts it brings. The boost in productivity, the benefits of no commute, the now-global job market, alongside the perils it may bring to our mental health and the challenges of work/life separation.
The human impacts of remote working cannot be understated, but the huge impact and reliance on tech is often breezed over. Think back 20 years ago and how effectively you would have been able to fulfil your finance role from home.
When a global pandemic forced everyone home almost overnight, businesses had little time to prepare their IT infrastructure. Some, already equipped with modern tech were able to transition with relative ease, while many other IT teams were left scrabbling to grant remote access to entirely on-premise systems.
Cloud software obviously makes this easier - all you need is a web browser and an internet connection and logging in from home should be no different to being in the office. However, not all cloud-hosted accounting systems are created equal. In some cases, particularly with smaller systems, what is sold as cloud is much more akin to a traditional on-premise system, just with the servers a little bit further away. Still relying on antiquated VPNs and remote desktops.
Different systems will be aimed at different size businesses - this isn't just a branding and market segmentation exercise. These systems will be built to cope with a finite amount of data and varying degrees of account complexity. While it isn’t an exact science, that amount of data correlates with the number of accounting items processed which correlates with an organisation’s size.
The issue arises when a business’s size falls near the top end of what its finance system is built for. Processing large numbers of transactions, verging on the brink of what their system can handle. While the budget accounting system ticked the boxes for them 5 years ago, now the business has grown it’s only just clinging on.
Then suddenly, you throw the pressures of remote working on top of that. Now having to process all that data via multiple connections.
Whereas in the past, you may have relied upon ‘offline’ access to that data - printed reports passed around your desk, key figures scribbled on a whiteboard and the ability to candidly holla queries across the room – in a remote world you'll be turning to your accounting software more than ever for the answers. Constantly having to refresh dashboards and re-run reports.
Don't be mistaken, this is fantastic practice for any business. Working from a single truth, digitally recorded, regularly updated and securely held within the database. However, all these additional micro-tasks build up to a significant increase in processing requirements on your accounting software.
What may seem like a simple query, now requires 2 minutes of staring at a loading screen before you get the answer.
If you wish to stay afloat, businesses need to react to market changes quickly. With an increasingly turbulent and ever-changing world, business leaders need real-time access to financial information to make accurate decisions. Waiting around for figures and struggling to extract the insights you need simply won't do in this "new normal".
While a slow and clunky finance system might be an annoyance for now, and yes you know you need to do something about it "at some point", the real risk to your business is more subtle. It's the sentiment of your staff towards their system. There's only so many times someone will put up with a seemingly endless loading screen and frozen reports before they simply stop bothering. Soon you'll be in a position where key business decisions are being made with only half the relevant information or based on a 2-week-old report, simply because it's too cumbersome for staff to navigate the latest data freely. Furthermore, unless you really have your finger on the pulse as a finance leader, you may not even know this is happening.
Back when you were 100% office-based, you may catch a glimpse of the reports being used, or simply overhear those finance system complaints, but these days you might not pick up on it until it's too late.
What can you do? Firstly, stop putting up with a finance system and pieces of software that simply aren't working for you.
While it’s all very well and good to suggest a change of system now will be the answer to your prayers, won’t you risk being in the same situation again in 5 years time? Well, no! With the way more forward-thinking suppliers are opting to structure their finance systems, it’s much simpler to pay for a solution that fits today's requirements, but will grow, adapt and advance as both your business and technology move forwards.
True cloud-hosted accounting software also leaves the techie responsibilities in the hands of your supplier. Any supplier worth doing business with will be constantly investing in new technology in order to keep your system at the forefront of modern software. With a big shift towards subscription-based pricing, you simply keep paying your cash-flow friendly monthly fee, and let the supplier take care of the rest. You can expect regular software updates adding new functionality and UI improvements, alongside behind the scenes upgrades in hardware and security, while you just worry about the day job.
And when your business requirements evolve, you add on additional system modules, users, or data storage, as you need it. Never paying for anything you don't need, but equally never reaching a point where you max the system out either.
If you’re in need of a finance system that can handle the pressures of remote working, provide accurate and real-time data when you need it, and will continue to grow and adapt with your business, get in touch today.
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