30 per cent of finance systems 'underperform'

Nearly a third of enterprises feel that their financial systems have ‘failed’ to meet all their original business objectives, according to research from the National Computing Centre’s Evaluation Centre.

The first reason, cited by 43 per cent of the sample, is the ‘failure to change internal business processes’; the second, cited by 38 per cent, is that the system ‘does not work in the way the company would like to operate’. Other key factors identified are that the system is too complicated (29 per cent), poor or inappropriate implementation approach (29 per cent), or a lack of or inadequate training (29 per cent).
The survey polled 100 organisations for their opinions on issues relating to the use and development of their financial, accounting and reporting software. The sample includes companies from banking and finance (27 per cent), public sector (26 per cent), retail (10 per cent), business services (10 per cent), information and communications technology (9 per cent), and manufacturing (9 per cent).

Respondents were asked to rate their current financial and accounting system in a number of key areas, using a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 equates to ‘very poor’, and 5 is ‘excellent’.

The quality and reliability of the finance and accounting systems is generally rated highly (4.0), as is their scope and functionality (3.7). Lower down the scale, the ease-of-use of the software (3.4), frequency of software upgrades (3.4), supplier help desk and support (3.3), and the cost impact of upgrades (3.3), are all regarded as ‘only moderate’.

Areas causing the most concern are the cost of implementing the software (3.1), and the cost of maintenance and software upgrades (3.0). The main business driver for recent development projects in financial and accounting systems, mentioned by 76 per cent of respondents, is the ‘ongoing need to update business processes and procedures’.

This is followed by the requirement to make cost savings (55 per cent), to enhance customer-focused processes (48 per cent), and improve management information systems (38 per cent). Over the next two years the respondents see these four areas as remaining the major driving forces for financial systems, the survey reports.

Two technologies stand out as having the most impact on the development of financial and accounting systems. The first, citedd by 69 per cent of respondents, is workflow and business process management as organisations seek to make their internal operations as efficient and effective as possible. The second is financial reporting tools (59 per cent) as it is becoming increasingly important for organisations to be able to analyse their data more effectively.

While these technologies continue to remain important drivers, in the future they will be joined by document and content management software (45 per cent) as having a key impact on financial systems. Also of growing significance will be self-service portals (31 per cent), and mobile technology (28 per cent).
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