Half of businesses rushing into accounting tech upgrades – but you’ve seen nothing yet

Neil Robertson, executive chairman at Compleat Software warns that while businesses and vendors struggled with Making Tax Digital (MTD) – this is only the start of the accounting technology revolution

More than half (51%) of finance professionals say their company has upgraded its finance and procurement systems in the last year, with 31% rushing to upgrade in the last six months, according to our new research report.

Accounting and finance regulations like Making Tax Digital (MTD) have battered businesses in recent years as a swathe of new compliance rules have put pressure on them to meet much stricter compliance and reporting requirements.

So, it is likely no surprise that so many firms have suddenly stepped up the amount of accounting technology they are investing in to try and stay on the right side of all these new rules.

The accounting technology race – when did UK businesses last upgrade their accounting technology?

  • In the last six months – 31% 
  • Within the last year – 51% 
  • Within the last five years – 16% 
  • Within the last six to 10 years – 4% 

But while it might seem like the accounting technology revolution is at peak upheaval, the reality is that it is just getting underway and accounting firms, businesses and even software vendors haven’t seen anything yet.

Look around the EU, or further afield in Brazil or Argentina and you start to understand exactly what is coming down the road for UK businesses.

In a lot of countries, governments are moving to the point that every single sale has to be registered digitally (this is already in place in many countries) and means that businesses have to report digitally on every transaction.

Accurate business revenue becomes transparent and all tax (on every transaction) is correct.

Making Tax Digital is our first incarnation of this in the UK.

Accounting software dependant

Smaller organisations in particular are set to have a much harder time in the new digital accounting world (even more so than they probably are now) and we are likely to see an even more prolific shift towards financial and accounting automation.

Every organisation is going to find itself becoming increasingly dependent on accounting software that introduces functionality required by the government in terms of Making Tax Digital, as well as functionality for collecting revenue and costs in the next few years.

This is already proving a significant challenge for many businesses with some initial research finding that thousands of companies have missed the first deadlines for MTD VAT returns, with many struggling to adopt new technology and either train or find staff able to operate it.

And according to a YouGov poll, this new tech adoption is not likely to get smoother anytime soon with 57% of respondents to the survey stating they felt “unprepared” for new changes – despite reporting deadlines having already passed.

Challenging times ahead for accounting software vendors

While businesses and accounting firms are set for a tough time of it in the coming years, those they turn to for help – accounting software vendors – are likely in for a much more challenging time.

For example, it is going to become increasingly difficult for smaller software houses that sell in multiple geographies because legislation will be different in each territory, and the software will have to be adaptable to become country specific based on the legislation.

This also means a rapid rate of upgrades is going to be needed.

It is likely that the number of organisations upgrading their accounting software will increase significantly– just because of the need to access the new functionality. 

We’re about to see the consumer model of SaaS subscription services become the norm in business and enterprise software, with vendors providing automatic upgrades as part of their services as standard.

These upgrades are already becoming a key value proposition for software vendors in the accounting and financial sectors because businesses don’t want the worry and the hassle of upgrading locally deployed software. As new legislation comes in SaaS software is automatically upgraded, providing huge efficiencies and comfort for customers, whilst simplifying ongoing support for the software provider.

It’s a brave new digital world out there and firms need to get geared up for the road ahead because the days of locally deployed accounting software are numbered, and the clock is ticking down.

About the Author

Neil Robertson is executive chairman at Compleat Software. Compleat Software is a leading provider of powerful spend management solutions for SMEs that eliminates paper and unites finance, procurement, and budget holders, providing an accurate, real-time picture of company finances and budget availability.

Featured image: ©Stokkete