Remote Working – A trend or necessity?

by Paul Sparkes 27. October 2011 13:45

Remote working is not a new working practice, but is one that as a society, we are becoming increasingly reliant on.  It is now the norm that today’s working environment demands instant access to key business data and the emphasis falls on IT systems and software developers to be able to provide this access, in a secure and reliable fashion. 

Today’s technological advancements can enable an ‘anytime/anywhere’ working philosophy, if organisations choose to invest in software capable of facilitating access to live systems from remote locations.  But just how important do organisations view remote working to be and is it a priority, in particular for finance departments to be able to work remotely?  In this post I’m going to look at how remote working is affecting the modern day finance department and consider how organisations are responding to changes in technologies. 

The Benefits of Remote Working

The competitive nature of the working economy depicts that key decision makers need to have instant access to live, accurate information at their fingertips.  Remote access can empower employees, enabling them to make informed decisions at anytime.  This can be critical in today’s competitive business world, especially in a fast paced sales environment.  Competent business software should not only facilitate remote working, it should also make it easier and be able to automate the delivery of essential and valuable information directly to a mobile phone or PDA device, providing a ‘snapshot’ of organisational KPIs. 

On another level, remote working also allows employees the attractive and flexible option to work from home, from a different office or location or even whilst commuting. From a green point of view, I believe it has a positive impact on the environment encouraging reduced travel.

The Importance of Remote Working 

To understand how important remote working is, IRIS conducted a recent survey with 167 UK finance professionals.  The results highlight and re-enforce the ever growing importance and reliance on the benefits of remote working.  You can see more in the Slideshare presentation below.

76.6% of those asked felt that remote working was essential or important to their organisation.  Only 6.6% had no remote workers within their organisation.  These statistics clearly demonstrate the increasing dependence on software capable of facilitating such mobile working environments. 

The survey also indicated that the demand for remote working is on the increase with 96.4% claiming that over the last 6 months remote working had stayed at the same level or increased.  Over a third of respondents claimed an increase. 

The Role of Software in Remote Working in a Finance Environment

It appears that software providers have been responding to the demand.  Only 15.6% of those questioned stated that their accounting solutions software prevents them from accessing the financial data they need.  When asked specifically what financial data they required access to, respondents cited a variety of requirements:

  • 74.3% required information on individual accounts
  • 35.3% required detailed data on debtors
  • 32.3% needed to track KPIs
  • 24.6% needed access to exception reporting data

These responses highlight the need for accounting solutions and business systems to provide live access to all spectrums of the data in a secure, reliable and safe environment, and also represents the breadth of workers who take advantage of remote access.

In terms of the technology adopted to facilitate remote working, respondents used multiple methods, with 65.9% using their home computer and 43.7% using a lap top or notebook.  Nearly twice as many respondents use a RIM Blackberry as all other forms of PDA or Smartphone.  Surprisingly, considering many accountants work away from the office visiting clients, only a very small number of accountants in practice use a Blackberry or Smartphone to access financial information.  The vast majority of hand-held devices are used by FDs.  It will be interesting to see how this trend develops in the next 12 months as the iphone and other devices become more readily adopted. 

Conclusion

Instant access to accurate and relevant information is essential to organisational agility and success and therefore remote access has become a crucial feature of modern accounting systems.  Developers therefore need to consider carefully a number of methods for accessing their systems remotely, including via web-browser as well as through more mobile forms of technology.  Due to the sensitive nature of the data, software developers need to provide a secure access route, ensuring security is not compromised.  Users need a fast and reliable connection to the data they need to work from so efficiency is also not compromised. 

Recent external environmental events beyond our control have pinpointed how crucial it is for workers to be able to access systems and data remotely and organisations need to ensure that their software developer can provide a secure and reliable platform to facilitate this.

IRIS Exchequer LIVE

IRIS is committed to responding to customer and market demands and as a result, has further developed the remote working capabilities of its award-winning product, IRIS Exchequer.  IRIS Exchequer LIVE uses the latest technologies to enable users to operate and collaborate efficiently by providing real-time access, irrelevant of location, through an intuitive and highly functional new interface (IU).  By taking advantage of leading edge developments, IRIS has created a new ‘Rich Internet Application’ (RIA), which enables both office-based and remote users to have access to live data, providing an essential gateway to accurate business information. 

IRIS Exchequer LIVE is not purely for remote workers; the solution delivers the capability for office-based users to access, manage and tailor transactions to their individual working requirements.  Key to the design of this all new solution is the ability for users to create a personalised view of key information.  An intuitive panel provides a ‘snapshot’ view of activities, unique to each specific user. 

IRIS Exchequer LIVE has responded to the challenge of the demands of the changing working environment by providing a fresh and dynamic approach to accessing critical business data from both an office and remote environment. 

To find out more about IRIS Exchequer LIVE, please visit www.irisexchequerlive.co.uk


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