The shift to home working, which began as a temporary measure during the height of the pandemic, has now been permanently adopted by many employers, alongside a hybrid home/office working balance now expected from a large percentage of employees.
More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents to the Advanced Annual Trends Survey said that one of the legacies of the pandemic will be for organisations to shift to a digital-first mindset, with this figure increasing to 90 per cent for ‘digital natives’ (18-24 year-olds).
With that in mind, 70 per cent of finance professionals said that their current technologies were holding them back when working remotely, alongside 59 per cent of them also saying that the most important attributes for a business leader today is ensuring that staff have the right tools to be productive.
There is still a place for on-premise solutions but all businesses, from SMEs through to enterprise-level organisations, are becoming more aware of the benefits of cloud solutions. Google says, “the promise of cloud computing represents more than just a faster, more efficient version of everything we did before – it’s an entirely new way of thinking and working across any environment.”
Finance leaders’ focus
As well as overcoming technical limitations for efficient remote working, finance leaders are placing more emphasis on areas such as:
- Better reporting, with timely and comprehensive data provided as a single view of the truth;
- Using real-time data for strategic decisions;
- Smarter collaboration with non-finance people;
- Monitoring multiple entities across different currencies and regulatory frameworks.
A cloud finance system can provide a single-source solution to all of this (and more). However, although 32 per cent of business leaders say cloud is their biggest spending priority over the next 12 months, the perceived fears of cost and disruption are preventing them from moving to the cloud.
This fear is almost exasperated, by dare I say, by technology vendors themselves, with complex pricing models and lengthy implementation processes which can be incredibly disruptive to the working environment when downtime can’t be afforded. This is where trust plays a major role; moving to the cloud isn’t just a switch over, it requires the right motivations and commitments from both the housing provider and their chosen cloud provider.
Upfront vs. on-going costs
When thinking about changing systems, affordability is obviously a primary consideration. The up-front cost of an on-premise solution might seem to be the more cost-effective option, but taking into account total running costs, a cloud solution can offer better value for money because there is no heavy investment in IT infrastructure.
Cloud projects can be a financial shock, but our clients are seeing that the security, ongoing technical support and system stability of cloud solutions all make a big difference. Most finance leaders know that cloud is the way forward, but it comes back to trusting the right provider.
While a move to the cloud can alleviate access, technical and IT frustrations, finance leaders also need greater levels of reporting that are accurate and can be delivered at speed; a big frustration is inconsistencies in reporting, which can damage strategic decision-making and boards’ confidence in ‘the numbers’. Finance management systems that have all reports in one place enable easier reporting to boards and provide a single view of the truth.
MRI Software in partnership with Advanced already offers MRI Finance Enterprise (otherwise known as Open Accounts) to the housing sector, with a growing community of more than 20,000 users and a partnership spanning over 20 years.
Through this partnership, Cloud Financials is now the latest addition to our comprehensive suite of finance solutions. So whether you’re an existing on-premise user or are thinking of upgrading your finance systems into the cloud, MRI Software together with Advanced can provide the right options at your pace.
For more information on Cloud Financials or OpenAccounts, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an initial discussion or a demo.
Ivan Blythe is a senior solutions architect at MRI Software.