Media Relations at Sage

Kate Bonner, Director of Communications 

Sage survey shows impact of of admin on productivity

11 September 2017 - Sage, a market leader in cloud accounting software today unveils an economic report highlighting that the world’s business builders currently spend an average of 120 working-days per year on administrative tasks, accounting for around 5% of the total manpower for the average Small & Medium Sized Business.  

The markets surveyed include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the UK and US. Sage has over 3 million customers – small and medium sized enterprises in 23 countries, including the surveyed regions.

Undertaken by Plum Consulting, the research shows that an increase in productivity of 5.6% in the UK could lead to an increase in GDP of at least £33.9billion per year.  This could be partially achieved through the reduction of time spent on business administration.

The largest administrative task for Small & Medium Businesses in the UK is accounting, with operational tasks such as recruitment and HR representing a smaller burden for entrepreneurs.

‘Sweating the Small Stuff: the impact of the bureaucracy burden', researched over 3,000 business builders and found that complying with administrative and regulatory requirements has a significant impact, both in terms of manpower that must be devoted to the tasks and the actual cost to the bottom line.

Of the administrative tasks analysed, the report finds that time spent on accounting is most costly, amounting to over 20% of total administration time, and up to 27% of time in France. This is followed by generating invoices, and taxation.

Alan Laing, United Kingdom & Ireland Managing Director at Sage, said, “In today’s business environment, where our lives are aided and enhanced by intuitive technology, surely spending so long on admin is unacceptable? No one started their business with a desire to spend many hours of their time carrying out admin. That’s why we’re committed to helping business owners manage everything from money to people digitally, in real time and in the cloud, in a bid to help give them more time back.”

Global snapshot: Small & Medium Businesses’ Contribution to Global Economy

Across the 11 countries analysed Small & Medium Businesses account for at least 96% of total enterprise, so if lost time was given back tothem, the impact on GDP would be appreciable

Country   Percentage of time lost to administration Implied loss in productivity 
 UK  5.6%  GBP 39.9 bn
 South Africa  3.7%  ZAR 7.3 bn
 France  7.7%  EUR 43.9 bn
 Ireland  3.5%  EUR 2.2 bn
 Australia  4.9%  AUD 31.8 bn
 Brazil  6.5%  BRL 79.5 bn
 Canada  1.7%  CAD 17.7 bn
 Singapore  5.5%  SGD 10.1 bn
 Spain  10.5%  EUR 32.0 bn
 United States  4.9%  USD 335.3 bn
 Germany  3.7%  EUR 28.2 bn
                                                                       

Source: Sweating the Small Stuff: the impact of the bureaucracy burden

Laing explains, “The administrative role takes up the valuable time of regular members of staff, who could otherwise be contributing to revenue and profitability. There is now a significant opportunity to unlock this time burden by either digitally automating or streamlining the work that needs to be done, and which is crucially designed to free up this time for fee-earning activity.

“We are therefore calling on the government to support our business builders through this transition into the digital age, which in the long term will likely improve their bottom line.”

Access the full report here.