Sage survey shows that unleashing business builders from burdensome admin could unlock over £460bn in lost productivity

Here’s why

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

  • ‘Sweating the Small Stuff: the impact of the bureaucracy burden’ is research commissioned by Sage highlighting the impact of administrative tasks on Small & Medium Businesses globally
  • Research finds an average of 120 working days spent per year is on administration

Undertaken by Plum Consulting, the research shows that an increase in productivity of 5.6 per cent in the UK could lead to an increase in GDP of at least £33.9bn 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 per cent of total administration time, and up to 27 per cent 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 per cent of total enterprise, so if lost time was given back to them, the impact on GDP would be appreciable


CountryPercentage of time lost to administration

Implied loss in productivity


UK5.6 per centGBP 39.9 bn
South Africa3.7 per centZAR 7.3 bn
France7.7 per centEUR 43.9 bn
Ireland3.5 per centEUR 2.2 bn
Australia4.9 per centAUD 31.8 bn
Brazil6.5 per centBRL 79.5 bn
Canada1.7 per centCAD 17.7 bn
Singapore5.5 per centSGD 10.1 bn
Spain10.5 per centEUR 32.0 bn
United States4.9 per centUSD 335.3 bn
Germany3.7 per centEUR 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.”

Click here to read the full report

Social Bookmarks