SAN FRANCISCO and LONDON – June 21, 2016 – Huddle, the leader in secure cloud collaboration tools for enterprise and government, today released findings from a 2016 survey of 200 U.S. and UK accounting, advisory and management consulting firms. The study, “How collaboration technology is shaping the client experience,” revealed that inefficient information-sharing, poor document management and duplication of effort are costing firms in terms of billable utilization, growth and client retention.
While many firms may feel they are investing in technology to improve collaboration, the research suggests that in the majority of cases, users find many of the tools available to them so restrictive or unitinutive that they are actively circumventing them. This is compounding the issue and leaving many firms unequipped to meet the top three industry challenges cited by respondents; retaining staff (45 percent), and increased domestic (40 percent) and global (36 percent) competition.
“The sector faces a number of challenges, from increased competition through to automation, and so the ability to differentiate, maximize billable utilization, exhibit expertise and deliver a great client experience has become paramount,” said Morten Brøgger, CEO, Huddle. “While investments in collaboration technology are being made, the research suggests that many firms are failing to find the balance between security and usability and have created new, and often unforeseen problems as a result.”
Key findings include:
- The cost of pursuing new business can be impactful, with the average bid process now costing firms $24,864 in otherwise billable time
- The top three client servicing inefficiencies: collecting documents from clients (32 percent), approval processes (32 percent) and document workflows (31 percent).
- Top reasons for losing clients: a firm’s inability to understand the client’s issues (30 percent), failings in client management (30 percent) and missing deadlines (27 percent).
- Though 62 percent of respondents have deployed SharePoint, the majority (75 percent) continue to share documents with clients by email with a significant number (28 percent) risking data confidentiality by using personal cloud sharing services and USB flash drives (22 percent).
- Employees still struggle with productivity when working remotely. More than half (63 percent) find it difficult to access corporate documents through a mobile device.
- A large number (68 percent) confirmed that they had wasted time unknowingly working on outdated versions of documents.
- All of this adds up to lost billable hours and wasted productivity:
- In the U.S., respondents work on an average of 26 documents per day spending an average of 89 seconds looking for each one; with an average hourly billing rate of $265, poor document management is costing firms $3,747 per employee each month.
- In the UK, respondents work on an average of 25 documents per day spending an average 136 seconds looking for each one; with an average hourly billing rate of £204, poor document management is costing firms £4,238 per employee each month.
- The global average is $4,932 per employee each month.
“More efficient client servicing leads to retention of business, retention of staff and overall growth – the fundamental goals of the professional services sector,” continued Brøgger. “And yet, avoidable errors and imprudent investments are being made that are not only undermining efficiency but also costing billable time. User-friendly, accessible and secure collaboration technology can remediate this issue, bringing about an instant return of revenue to the bottom line.”
The report “How Collaboration Technology is shaping the client experience” is available for download at huddle.com. In addition, Huddle will present the findings of the report, interpret the results and answer questions in two live webinars. Register for the UK session at 14:30 BST July 12 or the U.S. session at 10:30am PDT July 14.
This was an independent market research project conducted in Q2 2016 by Opinionography on behalf of Huddle. The research canvassed the attitudes towards collaboration technology, and its use, across 206 accountancy and professional services firms in both the US and UK. There was an approximately even split between firms with sub-500 employees and 500 or more and the respondents themselves are also evenly split across upper-mid and senior levels.
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