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Is your business wasting time on admin?

Wednesday 20th September 2017

Time is money, so the saying goes, and if recent research is to be believed the average business is spending a lot of time on basic administrative tasks.

Enterprise software provider Sage surveyed companies in global markets including the UK, France, Germany and the US, and found that the average organisation spends 120 working days per year on administrative tasks.

That equates to five per cent of the total manpower of a typical small to medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Accounting the biggest drain on resources
Carried out by Plum Consulting, the study noted that a reduction in the time spent on business administration could boost productivity and consequently drive economic growth in countries around the world.

The report showed that accounting is the most time-consuming task of all for companies, taking up more than 20 per cent of total administration time.

Generating invoices and managing tax are the next biggest time demands.

Looking at specific markets, the study found that the percentage of time lost to administration is highest in Spain (10.5 per cent), followed by France (7.7 per cent) and Brazil (6.5 per cent).
In the UK, companies typically spend 5.6 per cent of their working time on admin.

Sage pointed out that SMEs account for at least 96 per cent of total enterprise in the countries analysed, so if lost time was given back to these firms, the impact on economic growth would be “appreciable”.

The company also said complying with administrative and regulatory requirements has an impact not only in terms of the manpower required to complete the tasks, but in the actual cost to the organisation’s bottom line.

Could technology come to the rescue?
With so much technological progress and innovation taking place in the business world, Alan Laing, UK and Ireland managing director at Sage, said it is “unacceptable” that admin still takes up so much time.

“No one started their business with a desire to spend many hours of their time carrying out admin,” he added.

“The administrative role takes up the valuable time of regular members of staff, who could otherwise be contributing to revenue and profitability. There is now a significant opportunity to unlock this time burden by either digitally automating or streamlining the work that needs to be done.”

Cloud-based accounting is one of the technologies that could help companies to reduce the time they dedicate to regular administrative jobs.

It can offer benefits such as a better overview of business accounts and easier, more productive collaboration across teams. Of course, it’s important to weigh up these benefits against the investment required to introduce the software.

There are other exciting developments taking place in areas such as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) that could have a big impact on how businesses manage routine tasks.

While AI and robotics might sound like the stuff of science fiction, these concepts are very much a reality. In a February 2017 survey by Deloitte, 42 per cent of UK companies said they had implemented some sort of robotics, cognitive or AI technologies.

In a separate report, published in September 2017, Capgemini said it had found further evidence that businesses are coming to see AI as “a means of reducing the time employees spend on routine and administrative tasks to enable them to deliver more value”.

Businesses are having to dedicate 120 days a year on average to administrative tasks, according to research.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/DragonImages

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