New cloud-based software for SMEs in Singapore to be global ready

The Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) has recently launched the SME Cloud Exchange Network Software (SMECEN) that encourages small and medium enterprises to embark on digital transformation to be global ready. Supported by Enterprise Singapore, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), SMECEN is an integrated suite housing accounting, human resource and compliance solutions.

The platform allows enterprises to leverage technology and ride on the digitalisation wave by optimising operations across business functions. Enterprises adopting SMECEN will see an increase in overall productivity and lowered costs, and be well placed to develop management competencies powered by digitalisation of administration.

Most SMEs have been battling with rising compliance costs to stay in line with legislative and statutory requirements such as the filing of financial statements via XBRL, mandatory annual returns and tax forms, as well as the issuing of itemised pay slips and proper employment contracts. SMECEN’s integrated cloud-based solution facilitates SMEs’ compliance with ease and speed whilst enabling swift digitisation of data assets to strengthen SMEs’ data vaults simultaneously. In addition, SMECEN empowers SMEs to better understand and appreciate their fiscal situations.

Joanna Yap, Partner of Withers KhattarWong and a user of SMECEN, highlighted a key benefit: “One of the features of the platform is that one is able to find out the finance and tax position of the company. As tax is assessed on a preceding year basis, companies using the platform would be able to better manage and plan their finances to cope with their tax-paying obligations.”

Accounting professionals will thus be empowered to move progressively from a financial accounting role to a management accounting role in which decision-making becomes more intuitive, powered by data-driven analyses and insight. This, in turn, facilitates strategic planning enabled by close monitoring and evaluation of quantifiable KPIs.

Human-resource professionals will be able to concentrate on the management of talent pool, thereby strengthening the core competencies of the organisation. When used effectively, SMECEN will value add to any business, big or small, young or mature, to cultivate a culture of high performance among employees in which enterprises can attract and retain top talent.

One of the unique digital solutions in SMECEN is a compliance module aimed at making it quicker and easier for companies to lodge statutory filings to ACRA and IRAS. Companies are able to generate financial statements, corporate tax computations, as well as GST and corporate tax returns (i.e. Form C-S), using standard report templates that draw from a company’s existing accounting data. They no longer need to manually extract the accounting data and tap on other software, such as MS Word or Excel, to generate financial statements and tax figures. This saves time and effort in preparing a full set of financial statements. When filing financial statements with ACRA, SMEs can generate Financial Statement Highlights in the required XBRL format, without the need to import data into another preparation tool.

“We are looking at further reducing the regulatory burden for companies in the next phase when we enable companies to file directly to ACRA from SMECEN via APIs without the need to log into our filing portal,” said Mohamed Farouk, Divisional Director for Customer Experience Division at ACRA.

Kurt Wee, President of ASME, said, “This platform was conceived a few years ago, and after having successfully getting it funded, we’ve been accelerating our pace of development to bring this to the market. This is IP that is built, owned and operated in Singapore. ASME will roll out the platform of solutions to SMEs to bolster their level of digitalisation. As the voice of SMEs in Singapore, we are committed to providing a real solution to facilitate SMEs’ business growth – to start, manage and expand. I am confident that SMECEN, through collaborations with multiple partners in the regulatory space and commercial arena, will propel progressive enterprises on their exciting trajectories of growth and evolution, marked by efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.”

“The newly developed platform, SME Cloud Exchange Network, by ASME offers SMEs an integrated solution to perform their accounting and HR functions, including reporting aligned with regulatory compliance. This will help SMEs be more effective to handle these core functions. Through the management reports, the SME could also conduct an analysis of business performance for early intervention. We are supportive of trade associations like ASME, and the effort to identify SMEs’ needs and build shared platforms that would enable them to digitalise in an efficient manner,” said Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (ICM & Digitalisation, Enterprise Services & New Industries), Enterprise Singapore.

This initiative is supported under Enterprise Singapore’s Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme.

ASME’s first strategic partner in SMECEN is OCBC Bank. The Bank aims to optimise the use of SMECEN with their suite of digital solution offerings to their SMEs. Linus Goh, OCBC Bank’s Head of Global Commercial Banking, said, “OCBC and ASME have enjoyed a strong partnership championing SMEs and entrepreneurship in Singapore for close to 20 years. We are delighted to be expanding the scope of our relationship with this new collaboration by leveraging our combined insights and to reach and support our SME customers in the digitalisation of their businesses.”

“Accounting, HR and compliance reporting consistently feature as high priorities as our SME customers go digital, and we believe this solution, thoughtfully designed by ASME, will help to address many of the pain points and challenges in today’s processes,” he said. “We’ve been approached by a number of potential partners who have reviewed the platform, and there is substantial excitement about what we’ve built. We expect more strategic partners to be coming on board,” Wee added.