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The Airbase Annual Survey of Finance Professionals

A benchmark report on findings, insights, and 2021 projections.

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About this report.

At Airbase, it’s our mission to help make finance and accounting teams more effective, more efficient, and, ultimately, more valuable to their companies. Understanding the environment and trends that affect these teams, therefore, is paramount for us as a company.

To that end, we used an independent research firm to collect data from small and midsize businesses (50 to 1,000 employees) in a broad survey. This report summarizes the data and offers insights from our findings. We believe that it has value for finance teams to benchmark their practices and plans against their peers, and we are pleased to share it.

Executive summary.

In spite of the proliferation of accounting automation tools, the data show finance professionals continue to rely on repetitive manual tasks to successfully manage their finance operations.

Indeed, 38% of our respondents’ teams spend more than a quarter of their time on manual tasks, and 11% report that more than half of their team’s time is consumed by them. Given the professional qualifications and generally high level of education among accounting and finance teams, freeing the time of these professionals from low-value work can have a significant impact on company productivity. It is not surprising, then, that our respondents’ number one priority is to “improve or change finance operations by adding new systems or processes.”

Simultaneously, those surveyed also reported high degrees of satisfaction with the software tools that they currently use. This suggests that there is not necessarily opposition to new technologies; rather, the long transition toward automation will continue as new, better tools replace remaining manual processes and accounting work.

In this report you’ll find:
  • Business benchmarks for small and midsize, predominantly venture-backed, companies and their finance and accounting teams.
  • Forward-looking data derived from responses regarding the next twelve months.
  • A review of the various accounting tools used and where manual work requirements persist.

Methodology.

The data contained in this report come from 745 respondents. Their answers were collected in November and December 2020 with the help of an independent market research firm that screened for the following:
  • All of the respondents work in a finance or accounting capacity.
  • All are employed at the manager level or above.
  • All work in the U.S.
  • All work for companies with between 50 and 1,000 total employees.
Bill Losch, CFO, Okta
Bill Losch
CFO, Okta
With the new tools coming out now, things can be automated more efficiently. And this frees up time for more analysis, more of the fun stuff, moving forward.*
Airbase hosts a regular speaker series called The Path to Becoming a CFO. Quotes in this guide are from those sessions — we invite you to read more in our ebook, The 21st-Century CFO.

Guides and ebooks

The Airbase Annual Survey of Finance Professionals

A benchmark report on findings, insights, and 2021 projections.

01

About this report.

At Airbase, it’s our mission to help make finance and accounting teams more effective, more efficient, and, ultimately, more valuable to their companies. Understanding the environment and trends that affect these teams, therefore, is paramount for us as a company.

To that end, we used an independent research firm to collect data from small and midsize businesses (50 to 1,000 employees) in a broad survey. This report summarizes the data and offers insights from our findings. We believe that it has value for finance teams to benchmark their practices and plans against their peers, and we are pleased to share it.

Executive summary.

In spite of the proliferation of accounting automation tools, the data show finance professionals continue to rely on repetitive manual tasks to successfully manage their finance operations.

Indeed, 38% of our respondents’ teams spend more than a quarter of their time on manual tasks, and 11% report that more than half of their team’s time is consumed by them. Given the professional qualifications and generally high level of education among accounting and finance teams, freeing the time of these professionals from low-value work can have a significant impact on company productivity. It is not surprising, then, that our respondents’ number one priority is to “improve or change finance operations by adding new systems or processes.”

Simultaneously, those surveyed also reported high degrees of satisfaction with the software tools that they currently use. This suggests that there is not necessarily opposition to new technologies; rather, the long transition toward automation will continue as new, better tools replace remaining manual processes and accounting work.

In this report you’ll find:
  • Business benchmarks for small and midsize, predominantly venture-backed, companies and their finance and accounting teams.
  • Forward-looking data derived from responses regarding the next twelve months.
  • A review of the various accounting tools used and where manual work requirements persist.

Methodology.

The data contained in this report come from 745 respondents. Their answers were collected in November and December 2020 with the help of an independent market research firm that screened for the following:
  • All of the respondents work in a finance or accounting capacity.
  • All are employed at the manager level or above.
  • All work in the U.S.
  • All work for companies with between 50 and 1,000 total employees.
Bill Losch, CFO, Okta
Bill Losch
CFO, Okta
With the new tools coming out now, things can be automated more efficiently. And this frees up time for more analysis, more of the fun stuff, moving forward.*
Airbase hosts a regular speaker series called The Path to Becoming a CFO. Quotes in this guide are from those sessions — we invite you to read more in our ebook, The 21st-Century CFO.

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