Crippling’ finance skills shortages push organisations to look for alternative ways to fill the gap

321 Views

With research from BDO finding that almost three quarters of medium-sized businesses are reporting skills and staff shortages to be a problem, finance departments all over the country are taking a hit. And, with frequent staff turnover, recruitment challenges, sickness, and the resourcing of new ad-hoc or seasonal projects to contend with, finding the right balance of skills and manpower for finance functions is proving especially challenging.

Lorraine Allison, director of customer services at accountancy software provider, bluQube, commented: “UK businesses are being crippled by skills shortages in their finance teams, and this is being further exacerbated by Brexit, digitalisation and increasing competition in recruitment.

“We’re finding that many organisations are struggling to fill the gaps and maintain consistency with their finance and accounting processes. They’re putting resource into training for employees who then move on and take that knowledge with them, leaving them back at square one. Or they’re investing significant amounts of time in training agency staff on the necessary systems and processes, to then not reap the benefits in the long-term.”

In response, bluQube has introduced a series of new services to help its clients tackle the impact of finance skills shortages. This sees the software provider making its own staff available to work with customer businesses, on their cloud systems remotely, to ensure continuity with accountancy processes and meet workload or project demands amid staff shortages.

bluQube is offering help to clients across a range of services including debt management, bank statement upload and reconciliation, finance director support, finance process reviews, catalogue item creation, data entry, expenses, automation payment runs, reporting, month end processes and other system admin.

Its new services have already proved successful with long-standing customer, Glyndwr University, who recently deployed a bluQube employee to help with its debt management. The partnership saw a number of old and existing debts recovered for the university and the age of outstanding invoices improve significantly.

Bringing in support with knowledge of systems through the bluQube employee has saved the university about a week in time of running through the basics, estimating that it would take two to four weeks to train someone to the point of being able to do the job alone. Management of agency staff would require up to half a day per week and dealing with agencies, no shows and chasing would have costed up to a day per month.

Additionally, not having to source or provide kit for bluQube’s employee as the software could be accessed through the cloud, will have saved the university’s IT department anywhere between half and a full day worth of work.

David Elcock, executive director of finance at Glyndwr University, said: “The support we received from bluQube was incredible. Using an expert from the software company for extra resource meant that we had no anxieties around data protection or similar issues that may come with bringing in third-party help.

“The knowledgeable, skilled and calm manner that Rachel brought to our debt collection processes, as well as her expertise with the software, brought some excellent results to the university. She spent 219 hours chasing debts and working on the new automation, but it would normally take most of that time to train someone on how to use the system.”

bluQube’s new services are offered through tiered packages, depending on the individual business’ needs, and can be implemented for cloud versions of the software on a subscription basis.

Deploying a bluQube employee to manage certain functions and processes can also mean that additional modules of the accounting software are added to the customer’s system while the work is taking place, allowing them to benefit from greater productivity and efficiency without the associated cost.

Allison continued, “At bluQube we pride ourselves on working with customers as more of a partner than a supplier, and upon recognising that many of our customers were struggling to meet workload demands and recruit and retain the necessary talent, it made sense to offer help from our own skilled and experienced team. We can work as a valuable extension of our customers’ teams to drive efficiencies and make sure they’re getting the most out of the software, while fulfilling their mission-critical accounting, operational and regulatory processes.”