#4 Finance Systems Survey with Dan Wells

Dan Wells and Kevin Appleby discuss the finance systems survey on the GrowCFO Show

In April 2020 GrowCFO undertook a major finance systems survey. Dan Wells surveyed the entire GrowCFO membership, so the survey combines the experiences and opinions of several hundred CFOs. The GrowCFO membership includes CFOs from many industries and a whole range of business sizes. The finance systems survey gives us a great independent view of the landscape.

Who took part in the Finance Systems Survey?

  • Good spread of responses across sector, industry and size
  • 32 different accounting systems represented
  • 29% Single Entity Organisations V 71% Multi-Entity Organisations
  • 27% Single Currency V 73% Multi-Currency Organisations

What finance systems are GrowCFO members using?

  • Startup / Small Business – majority will complete implementation inside 1 month / Mostly self service implementation without support (Less than £1,000)
    Xero is dominant. Quickbooks, Sage 50, Free Agent less so
  • Mid-Sized Businesses – majority will complete in 1-3 months / Needs support to implement by the provider (£10,000 – £100,000)
    Aqilla and Netsuite performed well. Financial Force, SAP Business One, Microsoft Dynamics and InforSunsystems less so.
  • Enterprise Businesses – majority over 6 months to implement with many > 1 year / Help required typically from a Third Party (£250,000 +)
    Workday and SAP Hana performed well – Oracle ERP less so – Unit4 not representedA number of people still only using Excel (Not just startups)

To what extent are businesses using a cloud solution?

  • 70% suggested using cloud products / 26% suggested using On-premise: with remote access / 4% suggested using On-premise: without remote access

We suspect this is misleading as some have answered cloud despite using known on-premise (hosted) solutions. Highlights the mis education of true cloud. The ability to access remotely does not necessarily imply a cloud solution.

What does the finance systems survey tell us about quality of software?

  • 66% of responders rated their software’s sophistication lower than 7
  • 64% of responders with multiple entities say their software cannot manage consolidations
  • 43% of responders with a multi-currency requirement said it performed average at best
  • 30% of responders had done no integration yet
    Of those that had done integration,, Expenses, CRM, BI, Excel were most popular
  • Only 42% people felt they would be using their system again in 5 years
  • 11% would not recommend their solution to anyone!
  • 92% of responders can access the software remotely (cloud or remote access to on-premise)
  • Only 50% of responders get automatic updates
  • 25% of responders rated their finance system a 5 or less with respect to it how closely it meets their current requirements / 46% 8 or above
  • 10% currently looking to replace
  • Of the 16 mainstream systems reviewed, only 7 performed 7 or higher for ‘Meets Requirements’

Its generally accepted that you’re doing well if your system does 80% of what you need it to. Once you are doing more outside your system than inside, its a true sign you need to make a change.

What does the survey tell us about the future?

The top 5 innovations responders plan to implement in the years ahead are:

  1. API Integrations
  2. Advanced Business Intelligence
  3. Workflows
  4. Mobile Expenses
  5. Cloud Technology

Only 5% suggested they would not be implementing anything – the adoption of tech is in front of mind

In summary the GrowCFO Finance Systems Survey shows:

  • Modern cloud tech was the overall clear winner
  • A lot of businesses appear to ‘settle’ for their software and find workarounds to fill voids
  • Many poor systems are still in use. This may be fear of cost to change
  • Current system might do more than you suspect – especially if handover from your predecessor lacked information in this area. Poor account management may also be a factor – challenge them about what is possible.
  • If foundations are not right, future plans will eventually suffer.
  • Clearly still a big miseducation around cloud

We discuss the future finance function in a Zoom call every Tuesday lunchtime. Finance systems take up a large part of the discussion. You can join in by joining the GrowCFO community today. Membership is free.

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  1. Really interesting insight – surprising that automation is so far behind in finance functions – is this due to the lack of options? or is it down to the CFO not looking to automate as they are ‘comfortable’ in a set-up they are familiar with? Culture and IT changes are (in my experience) notoriously hard to integrate. Lots of catching up to do from software providers and CFO’s..