Many SMEs fear collapse without more assistance from the Government and bigger companies, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by one of the UK’s largest privately owned software companies.
One in five are calling for more government assistance in the form of grants such as the furlough scheme and six in ten feel large PLC companies could do more to support them.
Over a third would use the investment to upgrade and modernising their technology, with 41 per cent wanting to do so this year. Mentoring and easier access to business software also feature on SME’s list of unmet needs, according to the IRIS Software.
- Government launches Help to Grow to ease pressure on SMEs
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- Many agree that technology upgrades would be a high priority
- Superheroes initiative launched to help meet IT challenges
Accounting for 99.9 per cent of the UK’s 5.6 million businesses, SMEs have disproportionately suffered from a bruising few years. Covid restrictions coupled with post-Brexit supply chain disruption and staff shortages have forced many to borrow to the hilt. Bank of England research shows 33 per cent of them hold debt levels of more than 10 times their cash balances, as opposed to 14 per cent before the pandemic.
The government’s new ‘Help to Grow’ scheme was launched to help alleviate the problem. It comprised an MBA-style management training course for SME leaders, and financial help to buy software. But 79 per cent of SMEs told researchers they were not aware of it. And of those who were, half didn’t know what level of support was available.
“Government doesn’t do much to support SMEs. Yet we do have to remember public sector and small businesses are completely different worlds,” said Chris Maslin, Founder at Maslins Ltd, an accountancy firm based in Tunbridge Wells.
“There simply hasn’t been enough stability in recent years,” he added, citing the likes of Covid, Brexit, IR35 changes and rising inflation that has made it “incredibly difficult to accurately forecast, so we can’t plan, and in turn, don’t invest in new technologies or tools that could support growth”.
IRIS CEO Elona Mortimer-Zhika said the YouGov findings clearly show smaller businesses need more support at this significant stage in our economic recovery.
A proper, effective, system also means all aspects are talking to each other so everything is based on a one-time input
And while Government backed programmes are vital to the UK’s economy, “the gap between what the government can pick up and where private enterprise currently steps in is substantial. There is more that can and must be done by big business.”
In response, Iris launched its Time to Grow initiative, guaranteeing SMEs rapid access to up to 50 per cent off any of their software products to help in their digital transformation, which covers many critical processes, including HR, Payroll and Finance.
It launched in December, but their latest creative execution takes it in a new direction, introducing a group of IRIS superheroes – the Masters of Time – each equipped with super business software solutions that can help organisations free up time and focus on supercharging their business growth.
She’ll make sure they have all the data to hand so senior management know there’s no question that can’t be answered
Typical of them is an HR expert called Hanna (pictured), someone Caroline Gammon, HCM Market Specialist at IRIS, described as a game-changer. Asked what a company could expect from someone like that, she said simply:
“She will be the person who comes into your HR department and puts in slick processes that make everything so much more fluent. Everything from Leave forms to performance management to succession planning. She’ll make sure they have all the data to hand so senior management know there’s no question that can’t be answered – and they know she can produce the sort of reports that help them make important strategic decisions.
“And you’ll never have situation where, for example, HR says you have 150 staff but payroll says you have 160 so you have to do all sorts of number crunching to find out the true situation.
“And don’t forget, a proper, effective, system also means all aspects are talking to each other so everything is based on a one-time input.”
And the benefits of freeing-up all this time for HR staff?
“Teams need to be spending their time actively engaged with staff: talking to employees about their wellbeing, phoning staff who are sick, consulting line managers about training, all those vital functions that mean a company is operating effectively – not trawling through spread sheets.”
IRIS Software Group is one of the UK’s largest privately held software companies. It exists to take the pain out of processes and let professionals working in businesses and schools focus on the work they love and are valued for. More about Masters of Time here
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