SMEs losing out hiring poor quality professional services; seek new options

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The flip side of choosing professional service providers could emerge as a real cropper, sometimes, as some SMEs have learnt the hard way across the globe!

Often, the services of the ‘professionally qualified and experienced’ service providers could well remain theoretically superb and on paper at their presentations.

But when it comes to actual performance appraisal and results on the ground, the delivery appears to fallen much below the expectations in may cases, it is learnt.

For instance, due to the lack of a well-integrated payment technologies system, the SME sector has been facing a series of hurdles affecting their cash-flow situations for quite some time now.

Delays in debt collections from their customers and reconciliation of accounts receivable have added to the difficulties of SMEs and the industry has been looking out for solutions in financial services management as an effective way out. Interestingly, this has been a characteristic of the industry worldwide, as a study observed.

Already burdened with such severe speed-breakers to their growth, several SMEs have discovered that hiring outside experts in accounting services, insurance advisory, IT, payroll and other money management tools may not offer a ‘one-size-fit-all’ solution.

Analysts have calculated that an estimated $11.8 billion worth of spend must have been recorded for hiring various financial services by SME outfits in the UK alone during the past year.

Insurance advisory, IT, payroll, and other areas must have consumer further and larger outlays.

Yet, the industry doesn’t seem to have reaped benefits in direct proportion to these spend levels, and hence the frustration.

The study noted that at least two-fifths of the SME industry participants billion on such third-party services which have fallen below satisfaction levels.

“There’s definitely a need for an efficient way for businesses to access diverse external expertise in an only-buy-what-you-need fashion, and, of course, the best external experts will always put the client’s needs ahead of their own business goals … buyers should look for quality and experts who truly understand their issue.”, advised an expert on the issue.

As one significant way out of the impasse, it is felt that access to third-party skills highlighting digital knowhow could help ease the cash-flow and finance pressures, as perhaps, a solution.

Digital skills were essential in today’s corporate and banking climate, felt industry observers. However, over 50% of the SMEs lacked such competence, which includes website creation, SEO, social media and SME software development.

Recently, the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee found that 90% of the jobs required some digital skills and there is a massive gap between supply and demand of professionals with these skill sets.

“The rapid pace of digital transformation is changing the nature of the U.K. workplace.”, it noted.

Leading industry opinion is that while this may be a goal at the macro-economic level, SMEs find it difficult to invest in big-time infrastructural changes, due to the difficulties in absorbing the third-party remuneration and related expenses for such digital services.

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