A fifth of SMEs still do their admin with pen and paper


A significant proportion of small and medium-sized UK businesses are still using nothing more than pen and paper to carry out their business admin tasks, according to a new survey. This could be hampering both productivity and profitability.


The research, from payments processing experts Worldpay, found that one in five SMEs did not use any technology in relation to their business admin. Many lacked knowledge about the available tools and technological solutions available.


This caused them to persevere with inefficient manual processes that saw them spend up to twice as long on financials and admin as they did on selling. For some struggling businesses operating on the tightest of margins, this could be one more factor that pushes them towards requiring the services of an insolvency practitioner.


Even those businesses who did go beyond pen and paper accounts were not always making the best use of technological solutions. The survey found that 62% of SMEs in the UK could not identify their three top selling items, while 57% were unable to identify their busiest trading day of the month.


Almost half (48%) of respondents said they could not even identify their top 10 customers or details about their spending habits. A further 40% were unable to monitor or produce up-to-date forecasts of their revenues and profits.


As well as keeping up to date records and helping to analyse data, software can also help with issues such as updating payroll systems to take into account auto-enrolment on pensions and Real-Time Information (RTI) reporting to HMRC.


There are a number of contributory factors that could explain the lack of tech take-up amongst SMEs. Some were unaware of the available solutions while others may feel they lack the resources to implement and run these systems.


Poor access to fast and reliable internet connections could also be hampering some businesses. The Connected Nations 2015 report found that only around two thirds (68%) of UK SMEs had access to superfast broadband, compared to 85% of all premises. This left 400,000 SMEs with no superfast broadband connection.


By Phil Smith


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