26/08/2014

By Barbara Kroll, managing director, Twinfield UK


“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

The words of Henry Ford and Albert Einstein remain resonant today. But in the world of business – and specifically when dealing with a SME’s accounting function - they’re only partially true. In a competitive economy where regulatory, communications and technological evolution is rapid and the need to be responsive is great, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’re likely to be going backwards. It’s quite literally the law of diminishing returns. To progress, businesses need to look at adding value; to dare to change, innovate or die.

Despite SMEs being perceived as having flexibility and agility on their side, a recent report by CIPD, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, claims that many UK small to medium-sized enterprises are not keeping up with the current pace of change.

The most effective growth driver in the next decade will almost certainly be technology. How businesses harness the digital age will determine whether they accelerate growth, or terminally decline. For SMEs, the challenge is ubiquitous: how do you align for growth?

Ahead with the Cloud

Cloud-based accounting, using software as a service, can help provide valuable financial information in real-time to aid decision-making and help SMEs identify areas to improve efficiency, profitability and growth.

Growing SMEs can align for growth by getting access to key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help identify areas of the business where improvements need to be made, and those areas where new potential might lie. In companies that employ finance directors, they have been shown to add true value to their strategic leadership teams, but are too often burdened with the minutiae of tactical accounting work and onerous internal processes. Worse still, as businesses grow, the use of disparate office-based accounting or bookkeeping solutions across multiple locations, franchises or affiliates can make consolidating annual accounts a challenging process.

Cloud-based accounting systems provide real-time information to help growing businesses become forward-looking, flexible and agile, rather than reactive. And they are much easier to implement than traditional software.

Margins and marginal gains

The perceived headache of change being a total aspect of business transformation is a red herring; change can be broken down into incremental, manageable phases.

The most successful organisations are those where decision-makers are not content to stand still, but have the entrepreneurial desire to diversify, explore new opportunities and drive growth. And have the real-time business insight to support it. Don’t fear change; embrace it.