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94% of CFOs in education sector still carry out repetitive and manual tasks

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The future CFO’ research conducted by Xledger, the cloud finance software provider, looked into how CFOs in the education sector are supported as their role evolves. It finds that the vast majority (94%) are still carrying out repetitive tasks and this could be impacting their ability to carry out other aspects of their role. The research found that the more senior you are, the more likely you are to be carrying out repetitive tasks, such as invoice processing and expense claims, rather than spending time on time projects that add strategic value to the organisation. Senior figures (CFOs and Heads of Finance) averaged a whopping 25 hours per week, compared to 15 hours for other finance decision makers. 

Some of the top frustrations that CFOs in the education sector cited in their current roles include having to carry out repetitive and manual tasks (35%), bottlenecks in the flow of information (33%), a struggle to demonstrate compliance to regulators (32%) and access to the latest data in real time (32%), 

Other key frustrations include too many silos and not being able to work collaboratively with colleagues (30%), a lack of efficiency when working away from the office (29%) and a reliance on hard copies of documents (28%).

Mark Pullen, CEO at Xledger comments, “The digitisation of the education sector, changing regulatory demands and underfunding pose significant challenges for the year ahead. This comes at a time when the CFO is already needing to strategise and add more value in their role. Yet, the fact that the UK’s top strategic decision makers are spending up to 25 hours a week on low value-added tasks is astounding and will be a point of resistance in many roles. The results of this research may highlight not only the stresses of the CFO themselves, but of their whole team.” 

“The frustrations and seniority differences are vital in informing the current dynamics, behaviours and commitments of the CFO role. If they are to evolve effectively, it’s evident that more support is needed to harness their strategic value in leading education establishments into a new age of working. Business growth rarely comes as a by-product of doing more with the same level of resource – unless you factor in technology,” concludes Pullen.

When digging further into the study, there are some notable trends in terms of seniority and sector. For example, 38% of larger companies (5000+ employees) vs 28% of smaller companies (less than 50 employees) are frustrated by repetitive, manual tasks. This is likely a result of larger organisations needing more rigid processes in place than smaller, potentially more agile organisations.  

Notably, the inability to work efficiently when away from the office was felt more by senior finance directors and CFOs (33%) than other finance decision makers (16%). This could be put down to a greater need to collaborate effectively with colleagues in more senior roles. 30% of senior financial directors and CFOs also stated that they’re frustrated about the number of silos and inability to work collaboratively compared to just 14% of other finance decision makers.  

Xledger is a leading true-cloud finance technology for mid-market organisations. With a suite of automation features including OCR, automated purchase invoice and expense handing, reoccurring and professional services billing and in-system payment processes, our value is giving back time to CFO’s and their finance departments, allowing them to spend more time onhigher value-added activities. 

Methodology: The Future CFO study was conducted among 529 CFOs and financial decision makers in the UK during August and September 2021 by Sapio research.

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