Some Kiwi businesses are missing opportunities when it comes to embracing cloud technology in their accounting processes, Craig Gower a leading systems information expert believes.
Gower, advisory and information technology partner with BDO, global business and accountancy network, says often this is because their accountants are inclined to "hang on to old technology and carry on as they always have done.
"In the new world of cloud computing if businesses aren't utilising available cloud solutions they are missing out on growth opportunities – and efficiencies modern technology can bring," he says. "They need to get with the times."
Gower says BDO, which in the last decade has evolved to provide innovative cloud technology solutions to its clients (most of which are in the small to medium range), helps those companies unsure how to embrace, work and link cloud products and systems to their business.
He says confusion often arises because of the huge range of accounting solutions available: "We find companies will go down a certain track (choosing a software package), but often get it wrong; then sometimes their accountants are blockers because they continue to use outdated in-house systems and don't understand the best options for their clients.
"But these businesses also often lack the resources to evaluate, implement and support technology solutions," he says. "This is where we at BDO can help clients by understanding their business requirements and independently advising them on the best software options, without relying on software vendors alone."
Although many New Zealand companies are embracing the cloud and enthusiastically adopting the technology, they, like companies overseas, find other barriers remain.
One is cost. In the UK, for example, a 2018 State of Small Business Britain Report found that while cloud computing was used by 43 per cent of small businesses and appetite for the new tech is strong, cost was identified as the major barrier to adoption.
Meanwhile in the US, a 2018 cloud computing study highlighted in the business magazine Forbes showed 77 per cent of enterprises have at least a portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud. But another 2018 US report - Softchoice's State of Cloud Readiness survey of 250 IT decision-makers across North America - revealed 53 per cent of companies struggle to acquire the skills necessary to support cloud initiatives within their organisations.
Gower says BDO is well placed to help clients in these situations. Globally the company is the largest partner of Xero, the technology company which offers cloud-based accounting software solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.
BDO was recently named Xero National Partner of the Year, an achievement Gower says is significant following 10 years of BDO commitment to cloud technology solutions and with more than 10,000 of its clients now on the Xero platform. It also signals BDO's innovation in advisory services and focus on making business better for their clients.
Gower says following a structured approach to systems implementation is vital, regardless of the scope and complexity of the software solution. The key steps are:
• Understanding what you need
• Reviewing potential solutions
• Selecting a solution and provider
• System implementation
"Many businesses fall at the first hurdle by not clearly documenting their business requirements," he says. "This leads to miscommunication to software vendors and, until implementation is underway, key factors can be missed. Potentially this results in a solution not fit for purpose or worse implementation fails."
Gower says understanding the myriad of potential cloud solutions can be daunting. BDO have recently merged with AltShift, a cloud technology integration specialist which offers independent advice on a range of solutions including inventory management, warehousing, retail, finance and payroll.
He says this has enabled BDO to extend its technology advisory services to include a team of specialists "to provide scalable cloud software options."
"We advise closely following a proven implementation process to achieve both a successful system change and to minimise disruption to the day-by-day running of the business."
This includes project planning, the migration of data from existing systems, configuration, testing, training and support during the transition period. BDO also recommend a system review following a period of live trading.
Gower says companies need to be aware of potential pitfalls and be willing to seek help from independent external consultants. This is especially true when looking for legal advice on software licensing, implementation and support contracts and, in cases where staff are not suitably qualified, in governance, monitoring and project management procedures.
For more information about BDO Information Systems Services go to: www.bdo.nz/altshift