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  • 3 November 2014 12:19

Finance Departments Lagging in Implementation of Cloud Computing: New Survey

While usage of cloud-based services is growing within many mid to large-sized Australian companies, finance departments are proving less enthusiastic adopters.

SYDNEY – Nov 3, 2014 – Financial managers within Australia's mid to large-sized companies are proving slow adopters of cloud computing, despite its growing popularity among many Australian businesses, a new survey has found.

The survey of more than 150 organisations found that, while interest in cloud computing is high, little more than a third (37 per cent) of financial managers agree or strongly agree hosted applications can help them reduce costs. They also remain unconvinced they can lower the time needed to deploy new tools that would facilitate faster analysis and improved business planning.

"The research results show many finance departments are lagging behind when it comes to taking advantage of cloud computing," said Todd Hunt, Vice President and Asia-Pacific General Manager for finance controls and automation software specialist, BlackLine. "This could be due to a range of factors including a misunderstanding of the benefits that the cloud can deliver."

BlackLine commissioned the research into the attitudes of finance managers within Australian mid to large-sized companies. The results provide a unique insight into the pressures faced and priorities for change.

When asked whether they thought cloud-based applications could help reduce the costs and the time needed to deploy tools that allow faster analysis, budgeting, forecasting and risk management, more than half (55 per cent) of respondents were neutral or only somewhat agreed. Just 37 per cent agreed or strongly agreed cloud-based applications could assist.

"Clearly more needs to be done to explain how cloud-based platforms can cut costs and reduce application deployment times," said Hunt. "Finance managers risk missing out on the benefits being enjoyed by other parts of their organisations.

“Given the current constraints on IT, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model in fact results in less of a burden on IT departments that already have too many demands placed on them. Along with access to comprehensive security, back-up, disaster recovery and support services, a move to the cloud would see accounting departments spend less time on managing their applications and more time on managing their core business.”

Hunt said some finance managers could be holding back on cloud adoption because of fears around data security and regulatory issues. Some may think it is safer to retain data and applications on in-house systems.

"Many of these fears are unfounded," he said. "The Australian Federal government is in fact leading the way with its "cloud first" policy which aims to accelerate cloud adoption within the public service."

The survey found many finance managers believe more needs to be done when it comes to providing accurate and timely information to senior managers and Line of Business heads. Of those surveyed, 38 per cent reported their teams still spent between 26 and up to 50 per cent of their time collecting, entering and validating information.

Interestingly, 34 per cent said the time required to compile data undermined its quality while 31 per cent of respondents pointed to a lack of IT resources as a reason information requests could be difficult to fulfil.

Despite these frustrations, and the relatively slow uptake of cloud-based applications, the survey did find an appetite for change exists within the majority of finance departments. Of those surveyed, 66 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that their finance team would like to improve the flow and usability of information for Lines of Business and to improve the decision making of senior management.

"Finance managers are showing a willingness to be proactive when it comes to improving internal systems," said Hunt. “Automating their financial close and various other accounting and finance functions would alleviate their reliance on manual processes and improve the timeliness of information, while cloud computing would lessen their reliance on in-house IT resources.”

Just like their large-firm counterparts, mid-market financial managers are also increasingly being viewed as “agents of change”. As well as overseeing financial operations, many are being asked to come up with ways in which systems and processes can be made more efficient and effective, thereby better supporting business activities.

“The survey has provided an interesting insight into the issues being faced within Australian company financial departments," said Hunt. "While the benefits of streamlining systems and workflows is understood, limited IT and staff resources and a lack of understanding of the benefits of cloud computing are proving to be roadblocks.”

About BlackLine

BlackLine - http://www.blackline.com/ - is the leader in Enhanced Finance Controls and Automation software and the only provider today offering a completely integrated cloud platform- built from a single code base- that supports the entire record-to-report process, as well as a host of other key accounting and financial processes. BlackLine’s Finance Controls and Automation Platform - https://www.blackline.com/products/finance-controls-automation-suite/ - increases business efficiency and visibility, while ensuring the highest degree of balance sheet integrity.

Delivered through a scalable and highly secure cloud model, BlackLine empowers more than 900 global companies to reduce the time and resources required to execute month-end closing with unparalleled accuracy, fueling confidence throughout the entire accounting cycle. With more than 100,000 users in over 100 countries, BlackLine complements existing Corporate Performance Management (CPM), Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.

Although BlackLine is ERP-agnostic, the BlackLine Financial Close Suite for SAP® Solutions - http://www.blackline.com/partners/blackline-sap/ - is an SAP-endorsed business solution - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAP_AG#SAP_Endorsed_Business_Solutions_.28EBS.29> – joining the ranks of fewer than 40 other software offerings globally that are endorsed by the enterprise application software leader. BlackLine also is an SAP Gold Partner, Oracle Gold Partner and participates in the partner programs of NetSuite and several other ERP providers.

Company headquarters are in Los Angeles, with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, London, Melbourne, New York City and Sydney. For more information, please visit www.blackline.com

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