In our latest article with HOSPA, we examine why a lack of investment in the back office could be impeding the customer experience, and what the future holds for financials within hospitality.
Faced with the constant challenge to deliver exceptional guest experiences, the hospitality industry has invested heavily in slick, intuitive, customer-facing front-end systems and websites, providing a proactive, premium service to customers and members. However, when it comes to back office systems, it’s often a very different story.
It’s still relatively common to see lots of paper-based, labour intensive processes and procedures at play, with a disparate network of creaking, legacy systems bolted together in an attempt to unite business functions, very much at odds with the cutting-edge front office solutions that represent the brand to the outside world.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with the finance department, where it’s not unusual to find accounting teams manually inputting data into expensive legacy software and spreadsheets, having to physically amalgamate reports from across the business to get a true picture of business-wide financials.
Not only is this set-up inefficient, taking up an inordinate amount of staff time just to input data, but the information is rarely up-to-date, having already bounced from department to department, or from spreadsheet to spreadsheet. To stay competitive in our ultra-competitive marketplace, hospitality businesses need financial information they can rely on, with timely, accurate information the only way to underpin faster, robust decision-making for the ultimate in business agility.
With this in mind, savvy hospitality businesses are investing in their finance function. With many opting for finance solutions that sit across the business, spanning all business processes, amalgamating key financial information for optimum levels of business efficiency.
What this serves to do is make the finance function more agile, more strategic and more timely, able to provide the right people, with the right information, at the right time, informing quick, effective decision making.
By pulling information from right across the business, automatically generating reports without having to wait until a set date for manual reconciliations to occur, this avoids the inevitable manual errors, ensuring consistency and data integrity, automating routine, repetitive tasks and freeing-up the finance team to concentrate on more value-add activities.
Changing the focus from getting the data into the system, letting the technology take care of data input, and shifting towards a culture of data analysis, the finance function can add much more value to the entire business, furnishing the business with the levels of insight needed to optimise operations.
It’s not just the increased automation that benefits the business either. By spanning the entire business, the right finance system enables increased communication between departments, breaking down inefficient silos of information and giving all relevant staff access to crucial financial information.
The ability to rapidly share accurate and up-to-date information is a major bonus, streamlining old time-consuming business processes and providing a comprehensive view of the organisation to all those who need it.
When it comes to business expansion and growth, the best finance systems out there will scale-up alongside your business as well, unlike the systems and spreadsheets of old, where their inflexibility was often a hindrance to business development, unable to keep pace with the shifting demands of a growing business.
And, they can automatically handle foreign currency transactions, as well as any local regulatory or compliance requirements, breaking down the barriers of international trade and again saving the finance team vital time and effort.
Performance management is enhanced too, with the direct ability to compare and contrast the performance of different business units or locations, or different departments and services within a single business.
With internal process commonality in-place thanks to a centralised finance system, you can quickly and easily see profitability across the different parts of the business, enabling the business to take action where necessary, making informed decisions based on accurate, real-time financial insight, and giving you greater control over the business as a whole.
For those hospitality businesses for whom internal IT resource is a concern, who have perhaps shied away from financial software in the past, cloud computing has made a real difference. By opting to host their chosen financial solution in the cloud, hospitality businesses reap all the aforementioned business benefits but without the cost and effort required to maintain hardware and software, as well as the need to manage software and upgrades, as this is all taken care of by the cloud provider.
Once a lack of in-house IT skills was sometimes a hindrance to particularly smaller hospitality businesses, the increasing popularity of the cloud has evened out the playing field massively when it comes to having access to cutting-edge technology that provides that all-important business agility.
The addition of centralised finance systems which span multiple business functions provides the in-depth, accurate and timely insight necessary to add real competitive advantage in any business environment. But for the hospitality sector in particular, the ability to respond quickly and effectively to changing customer demands, often in real-time, is an absolute must.
The right systems mean that finance teams can embrace a customer-centric business model which allows the business to seize any growth opportunities that arise, and consolidate all-important reputation.
Get In Touch
If you would like to know more about Percipient or how we can help you to invest in your back office operations, get in touch or call 01606 871332.
You can also read this article in the September 2019 edition of The Overview, the monthly Journal from HOSPA – The Hospitality Professional Association.