In March 2022, Xledger joined over 700 delegates within the housing finance community to learn, share ideas and network at the 38th annual Housing Finance Conference. Led excellently by the National Housing Federation, the two-day event showcased insightful speaker sessions from suppliers offering solutions to the challenges faced by housing associations across UK; including Xledger’s “Get Unstuck: Five benefits of a modern finance system”.

Mike Thomas, Senior Consultant at Xledger, presented a talk on the five benefits that a modern finance system can bring, utilising his years of experience in helping housing and other non-profit organisations improve their finance functions. With climate change, an unstable political landscape, inflation and the pandemic, housing associations have faced immense challenges in recent years; many of which will have long-lasting impacts.

In this article, we explore the five key benefits that can transform an organisation through choosing an enhanced finance software. If you’d like to hear more, you can access Mike’s 20min presentation for free here.

 

KEEP SKILLS IN HOUSE

Remote working is no longer a nice-to-have for an employer. It has become an essential requirement of every business, as the world becomes increasingly hybrid. We have all seen the struggles for employees, forced to move from office desk to living room, and how those with tech capabilities were able to thrive. Many of us now are choosing to work from home, and candidates can apply for roles miles away, due to the increasing opportunities afforded by modern technology.

A cloud-based finance system means your team could work from anywhere with an internet connection, at any time. The last two years have seen IT infrastructure become increasingly stressed, with costly VPN licenses, IT teams supporting geographically disparate staff, and challenges with existing hardware.

With true cloud, your finance system provider carries the burden for the maintenance of the system removing the need for in-house specialist IT staff and delivering a product available on all devices from laptop to tablet to mobile, without the need for VPN licenses. The provider takes care of those updates and upgrades, ensuring you have latest technology and the latest tools at your fingertips.

Key takeout: true cloud enables enhanced capability, reduced reliance on IT and improved employee satisfaction

 

MORE EFFICIENT PROCESSING

The housing management system remains the most important IT system a housing association has, so it is essential that your finance system is able to integrate with that system. Whilst historically your choice of housing management system would have determined your finance system, modern finance systems are built to accommodate integrations and provide multiple solutions to meet those needs.  With that assurance in place, finance teams can focus on the other functionalities they desire from their finance system.

Modern finance systems can help save countless hours of processing, not to mention reducing the risk of manual error, through automation of key processes and a focus on functionalities supporting right-first-time entry. This ensures suppliers and contractors can get paid on time, contributing to successful, trust-based long-term relationships.

Key takeout: migrating to cloud is a great first step – automation and seamless integrations will make things easier, slicker and more effective

 

FINANCE TEAMS FEEL EMPOWRED

Instead of relying on IT teams to maintain your system, a modern cloud-based finance software allows finance teams to take ownership of their finance system and maintain it. Whether it is as simple as adding a code for a new project or property, or a more complex update the system for a new company after an acquisition, control is placed in the hands of the finance team.

Finance teams should strive to have a system that is both easy-to-use for the team and flexible to your needs, allowing you to adapt quickly to strategic change, and enable growth.

Key takeout: a system that is user-friendly will enable all employees to use it to its best effect

 

STAKEHOLDERS RECEIVE TIMELY INSIGHTS

But, it’s not just about the finance team. Stakeholders are looking for the ability to process expense claims, approve purchase orders, invoices and payments, and access their reporting on-the-go.  If your wider stakeholders are able to self-serve, drill down into real-time data, they can make accurate decisions 24/7. Without the need to wait till month end, budget holders and project managers can work alongside finance teams to forecast, plan, and make more timely, proactive decisions that keep your housing association one step ahead.

Consequently, it is essential that you have tools which can easily produce management accounts and empower stakeholders to run their own reports and queries.

Key takeout: empowering finance teams is great; empowering the whole organisation is even better.

 

YOUR TEAM CAN PRODUCE VALUE ADDED ACTIVITIES

How often do we have a to do list that includes brilliant ideas for improvements that never happen because we “run out of time”? These ideas that are often proactive, good for our people, our local community and the planet, but are not deemed vital enough. The benefits of automating repetitive tasks mean that employees can turn their attention to these value-added activities. In a recent study*, Xledger found that 91% of senior finance decision makers are feeling increased pressure from the evolution of their role. 38% specified that these functions included new responsibilities outside the finance function. From company culture to human leadership, identifying silos and ESG efforts, there is a real need to get time back into the day.

When all of the benefits highlighted in this article are enabled, they have a cyclical effect:

  1. Staff have access to information
  2. Efficient processing
  3. Timely insights are provided
  4. Knowledge is shared across stakeholders
  5. Process is improved

These factors help improve staff engagement and fulfilment, support leveraging knowledge and experience, empower them to take ownership and provide opportunity for better value-for-money activities.

Key takeout: automation leaves you time to do what matters

 

SUMMARY

  1. There is always scope for improvement, regardless of your system
  2. A modern finance software will help you meet your opportunities
  3. Times have changed: you no longer have to rely on your housing management system to do your finances
  4. Don’t settle for what you have. Improvements will help you meet present day and future challenges, allowing you to deliver for your communities

 

What’s next?

To discuss further or find out more about how your housing association can modernise its finance system, or for a copy of our presentation slides, get in touch with Emily Joyce: email emily.joyce@xledger.co.uk or call +44 (0)7442 927 290.

*To read more from Xledger’s recent study, download the report for free here.