Singaporean Businesses Slow in Embracing Finance Transformation, SAP’s Survey Finds

Singaporean Businesses Slow in Embracing Finance Transformation, SAP’s Survey Finds

by July 29, 2020

Despite widespread adoption of remote working and digital transformation, finance transformation is still lagging amongst Singaporean businesses, resulting in companies losing US$340 million (S$473 million) annually to inefficiencies and manual processes, according to a new study commissioned by SAP Concur.

The study, conducted by Consulting Group – Asia Insight, surveyed over 2,000 employees across 12 Asia Pacific (APAC) countries including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, to evaluate employee expectations and identify gaps in expense management, business travel and remote work processes.

According to the survey’s findings, there is a “worrying” lag in finance transformation with a staggering 33% of local employees stating that they still submit expenses manually by filling out a form and enclosing physical receipts.

On average, employees in Singapore spend 2.7 hours per month filing expense claims, representing about a third of a typical workday every month. Managers, meanwhile, spend an alarming 5.5 hours every month reviewing and approving expense claims. This, in addition to the 2.7 hours managers spend each month to submit their own claims, brings it to an astonishing 8.2 hours a month, or a full workday, during which managers solely deal with expense claims.

These facts and circumstances are making employees discontent with their organization’s expense claims process, with 50% of Singapore respondents stating that they are unsatisfied with the process.

Another major challenge Singaporean employees face, the research found, is the lack of support for modern payment methods, leading to 38% of local respondents sharing a desire for their company’s expense management software to integrate with external applications and support more functionalities.

With 61% of Singapore employees strongly linking their overall finance and administrative experience with the satisfaction of working for their organizations, companies that fail to adopt digital platforms and technology to modernize their finance and administrative processes will be at risk of losing talent, the report says.

But it’s not just Singapore. The research found that the rest of APAC also shares the same sentiment. Across the region, 38% of respondents said they still submit expenses manually, and 49% revealed they are less than satisfied with their organization’s expense claim process.

image credit: concur

In APAC, these efficiencies are causing an estimated productivity loss of US$21.5 billion each year, the study found.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an acceleration in digital adoption: banks have transitioned to remote sales and launched digital outreach to customers, grocery stores have shifted to online ordering and delivery, and school have pivoted to 100% online learning and digital classrooms.

IT asset management firm, Snow Software, which polled 250 IT leaders from around the world, found that 82% had ramped up their use of cloud in direct response to the pandemic and the shift to remote working patterns. 66% reported that they will continue to use the cloud services and applications they implemented during the crisis once employees return to the workplace.