British finance departments are spending nearly one day a week on general admin tasks, putting a major drain on time and resource, according to new research from Concur.
The survey also reveals that 65 per cent of respondents think there is a disconnect between where they spend their time and what they should be focussing on. Furthermore, a total of 74 per cent say their role is more reactive than proactive, which suggests finance teams are distracted by lengthy processes and don’t have the time they need for strategic thinking.
According to respondents, UK finance teams want to prioritise those activities that have the biggest immediate impact on their business. Cash flow, in particular, is king – 68 per cent say effectively managing it is their most important role. Compliance with HMRC regulations, budgeting and helping the business increase revenue also ranked highly.
Admin tasks are a time drain
Many respondents also say their teams still rely on manual processes – a source of frustration to most. A total of 37 per cent of respondents admit their expenses process is still largely or entirely manual (spreadsheets and paper) and a further 32 per cent say the same applies to their AP invoice. Payroll is slightly more advanced, but still, only 55 per cent say they use an automated solution to pay staff and suppliers.
Despite many teams still spending excessive time on admin and carrying out manual processes, things are improving. The streamlining of finance processes on the whole is on the up – 86 per cent of respondents say their own operations have become more efficient.
This has resulted in improved visibility of cash flow, increased productivity and optimisation of processes. However, more can be done. According to the survey, if they were to fully automate all processes, finance leaders believe they would save 26 per cent of their team’s time, which is over a day a week.
Chris Baker, managing director of UK Enterprise, Concur says, ‘These results paint a picture of how finance leaders across the UK are feeling at the moment. Amidst a backdrop where finance is increasingly expected to perform a more strategic role, mundane admin tasks are robbing the team of time that could be better spent planning for future growth.
‘Given the important role the finance department plays within an organisation time is, in every sense of the word, money. By failing to ensure finance teams are working at maximum efficiency, businesses are losing out.’
Baker concludes, ‘The technology exists to turn finance processes such as expense management and accounts payable much more straight forward and many finance leaders are crying out for the implementation of such technology into their working lives.
‘Organisations must take heed and work to adopt techniques, that will not only free up their finance departments to work more efficiently, proactive and strategic, but will ultimately boost the morale of what is one of the most important functions of their business.’
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