By Steve Sawyer, divisional director at Access Group

In the midst of every UK boardroom there is a steadfast topic on the agenda — making the business more efficient. In a competitive marketplace efficiency is always central to a company remaining competitive and standing out from the crowd, but where to start? For those responsible for researching and executing such efficiencies they are faced with a long list and a hard task. Some things on the list might provide efficiencies in time, money or resources - but will they deliver all three?

A recent survey* highlighted that 48 per cent of UK employees are wasting at least three hours a day working with inefficient IT systems, which over a year costs the average UK business at last £28,000 (more than a full time employee earning the average UK salary). The tasks which caused the most inefficiency were listed in the survey as: submitting expenses, scheduling work, filling out timesheets and billing finances.

The survey substantiated a number of issues that companies talk to us about on a daily basis. Inefficient IT can be the number one cause of business waste in our experience, costing thousands that could be ploughed into recruitment or the bottom line.

As well as the business costs of these inefficiencies what is often overlooked is the impact that inefficient systems can have on employees. Over half of employees surveyed said they are not confident in the accuracy of data that the company produces resulting in duplication and errors. This comes at a time when increasing financial pressures coupled with the burden of red tape mean it’s more important than ever for businesses to improve data accuracy while reducing inefficiency and waste — and one of the key ways they should be supported in doing this is though technology.

These inefficiencies can even push people into looking to leave their job, for example: 45 per cent of workers admitted they are considering leaving because they are so frustrated at the outdated internal systems they use each day. To put it into context with over 25 million people employed in the UK, that is equivalent to over seven million people willing to move on simply because of inefficient systems, which is staggering.

Keeping hold of talented people in a fast pace industry like IT is imperative as they help businesses to spot and seize opportunities helping them to grow, be innovative and diversify. Also, in a very competitive industry IT problems can hold companies back from growth and contribute to customers leaving to work with a competitor. IT issues can also have an impact on a company’s reputation and have been at the forefront of some PR disasters, which have had an even greater effect on the bottom line.

However, it’s clear IT systems are holding all the cards in regards to efficiency savings, but what stops companies investing in new IT systems? Is it money? Not in the main, sometimes board members need to be convinced that new systems are necessary and want to be shown what the business benefits will be.

Businesses also voice concerns about the time it might take to implement new systems and have worries about the impact it will have on their output. However, it’s often the time saved replacing outdated legacy systems within weeks of implementation so any downtime is relative.