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Published 12 October 2012 14:34, Updated 15 October 2012 11:05
About 70 per cent of SMEs are still processing data manually, resulting in wasted time and errors, new research shows.
A survey by research firm Colmar conducted on behalf of accounting software provider BankLink, shows that SMEs are still uncomfortable providing their bank passwords and logins to third parties to process transactions.
The qualitative survey of more than 300 SMEs with annual business revenue of between $25,000 and $2 million found that 43 per cent were late with supplying information to their accountant and 32 per cent provided inaccurate information.
The research also found that the information businesses supply to accountants was at odds with what accountants expect to receive. Almost 60 per cent of SMEs admitted they had to clarify information for their accountants and 15 per cent said they had to have their accountant fix mistakes they had made.
“This is far from ideal. SMEs would benefit more by receiving business advice ... from their accounting services,” says an accountant with Alan Lewis Accountants, Christie Lewis.
She says SMEs struggle to keep their accounts in order. This is consistent with previous research showing SMEs are failing to pay their bills on time. “Many SMEs simply do not know what’s required of them for the accountant to do their job properly,” she says.
“In some cases, they struggle to find the time to get the information together, or worse yet, by the time they come to supply the information to us, they’ve lost key parts.”
General manager of BankLink Australia John Dunkerley says the risk of error is heightened because 70 per cent of SMEs still use manual data entry and many of them don’t know how to use DIY solutions.
“SMEs are extremely busy running their businesses and often have little time for doing the books,” he says. “Yet many are wasting precious time having to clarify and resolve issues with their accountant, which could be better spent on their core business or improving performance and financial understanding.”
He says the fact that many SMEs are still worried about data security means providers need to ensure secure, bank-approved data feeds rather than alternative “screen scraping” technologies that connect through internet banking.