Manual processes and disparate systems plague finance departments, survey reveals

22 April 2008

A survey carried out on behalf of Business Control Solutions Group plc (AIM: BCT.L), has found that the greatest issue facing finance departments is managing the daily flow of data and information. 94% of respondents claimed to find departmental workflow very challenging. This was closely followed by difficulties in achieving visibility and efficiency of controls, which 79% of respondents said they struggle with. The survey, which was carried out in February of this year, also found that 76% of respondents are hampered by a multitude of manual processes, and 58% are also troubled with the proliferation of disparate systems.

Problems with multiple systems, which are used by different departments and account owners, increase the difficulty of obtaining a global view of financial positions. This, in turn, generates further manual processes in collating, aggregating and presenting financial, progress and management information reports.

"These survey results show that finance departments are facing tough times with numerous systems that don't talk to one another and error-prone manual processes," said Nigel Walder, CEO of Business Control Solutions. "In order to maintain control of financial operations, there needs be an over-arching control framework in place which allows business owners to see the wood from the trees.
Fortunately, the survey results suggest that financial institutions do recognise that their future success relies on making improvements by combining visibility, ownership and control."

The survey, which was carried out by an independent research company, also found that 69% of respondents ranked making improvements to control and reporting processes their highest priority remedial activity for 2008. This was closely followed by making improvements to systems and technology applications and infrastructure.

"Putting these improvements in place is ever more important as financial institutions offshore an increasing amount of functions. However, it's vital they keep in mind that while tasks can be offshored, control and responsibility cannot," continued Walder.

55% of the survey respondents said that a lack of clear communication and its impact on visibility and control are the greatest risks when offshoring. The resources and skills of offshore staff were also a cause for concern - 28% of respondents cited this as high risk.

The BCS survey was carried out at the company's financial control event on 28 February 2008 at the Tower of London. The research comes from the analysis of data collected from the anonymous survey sample of 35 delegates, who work in financial institutions, brokerages and professional services organisations.

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