Technology spending seems to be giving a good, but not great, return on investment for most accountants.
This is according to a recent study from lease accounting software provider LeaseQuery. When asked about their ROI on tech spending, 53% of accountants described their past experience as “somewhat successful” versus the 22% of accountants who said their efforts were “very successful.” This indicates that while firms are earning a positive return on their investments, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. This was further evidenced by the 11% who said their experience was “somewhat unsuccessful” and the 2% who said it was “very unsuccessful” (12% of people said they weren’t sure).
The study suggested that firms will likely focus more on ROI in the future due to previously poor or mediocre experiences with technology investment.
At the same time, firms seem to have a lot of money to spend on technology. LeaseQuery found that for 71% of accountants, the top funding source for technology investments has been just current liquid assets (e.g. cash), meaning they have the internal resources to make these purchases themselves. Meanwhile, only 12% said they used bank loans and only 3% used stimulus funding.
The primary things accountants want from their technology, at 79%, is to save time and increase efficiency, which the report theorized might have something to do with the increased demands on accountants’ time.
“Demands are mounting and since accountants can’t buy more hours in the day, they are looking for technology to gain efficiencies, streamline workflows and add value to clients,” said the report.
Following this, at 57%, is “optimizing business processes,” which could probably also involve saving time and increasing efficiency. After that, at 38%, is improving compliance, followed by cutting costs, at 25%.
The report also discussed where accountants are using technology. The biggest area is expenses and accounts payable, with 80% saying they use technology to support this process; closely behind, at 79%, is financial reporting; and in third place, at 71%, is accounts receivable and billing. One area where only a minority of accountants use technology for support is lease accounting, at 46%, which LeaseQuery said was too low. However, it was auditing, at just 23%, that was lowest on the list.
Meanwhile, if accountants could automate anything, the majority, 60%, said it would be data entry, followed by reconciliation at 49% and data analysis at 49%.
LeaseQuery’s Accounting Technology Wishlist Survey polled 237 accounting professionals across public, private, nonprofit and government organizations in September. The majority — 61% — were in private companies.