Failure to change internal processes emerges as the key reason why companies do not reap the benefits they seek, according to 56% of respondents.
In order to improve performance, companies now expect to replace or significantly upgrade their financial and accounting systems at regular intervals, with 30% of the sample indicating they have done so within the past year. A quarter (25%) have made changes within the past one to two years and 21% report upgrades over a three to five-year timeframe.
Cost reduction, cited by 57%, and the need to accommodate changes to business processes and procedures (also 57%) remain the key drivers for development activity in this area currently, along with the desire to improve management information systems (54%).
Significantly, however, 48% of companies also identify regulatory changes such as the new International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as a critical factor. A similar proportion (44%) also cite compliance requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II and the demands of the FSA (44%).
These requirements are likely to prove a major challenge for many companies, since although 56% of the sample claim to have ‘one version’ of corporate data which is controlled by the finance department, the remaining 44% concede that much corporate data is distributed around transaction processing systems and in other departments, which will make creating a clear audit trail difficult.
For the future, the proportion of organisations who feel their development projects over the next two years will be dictated by the demand of regulatory or compliance legislation drops to around a quarter (27% in the case of compliance demands and 25% in the case of regulatory changes).
In contrast, almost twice as many (53%) predict that future development projects will be driven by the opportunities offered by the internet and e-commerce.
In particular, companies are enthusiastic about the Government’s current e-filing initiatives in areas such as PAYE end-of-year returns. A quarter (24%) have already begun e-filing, with 14% intending to do so shortly. Only 7% report that they have decided against this approach.
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