A quick scan around the internet and you’ll discover plenty of articles on why you should outsource accounting, indeed we have a couple ourselves you can take a look at:
Interestingly there is practically nothing on how to go about, what is a daunting but ultimately highly beneficial process.
This is a big step, there is no getting away from that fact. Define precisely, before you start looking at potential providers, what you need from the service. Be certain of what you are trying to achieve in both the short and the long term.
Businesses usually consider outsourcing for one of the following reasons:
- The business is rapidly growing or contracting
- You want a smaller highly focused team concentrating 100% on the business – all the other clutter of business minutia taken care of by someone else
- The business needs the skills of a Finance Director but cannot afford one full-time
- Lack of, or poor quality, management finance and accounting information
- You are experiencing high rates of staff turnover or skills shortages
- The business needs to generate operational efficiencies
The requirements for each reason will be very different. Be clear on what yours are.
Avoid common mistakes
You get what you pay for
When it comes to outsourcing choosing the cheapest service is not always the right approach. Outsourcing is more than just the mechanics of bookkeeping. Outsourcing is an opportunity to build a quality finance function, which will support the business through its growth journey. You need a part-time team with a variety of skill sets, not just an individual.
Biggest is not always best
Don’t assume that because an outsourcer has grown to become a large multi-national organisation or the market leader, that they understand how to support an entrepreneur of a growing business. Large companies are not generally light of foot and tend to work to a generic formula requiring you to do it their way. Do your homework!
Flexibility is crucial
Every business is unique. The journey each business takes is unique. So the service you choose must be flexible and tailored to your business’ unique requirements. A fully rounded service provider will offer you the opportunity to pull in resources as and when you require. They will also have expertise in all stages of growth and be able to contribute to the development of the business.
Do you like and trust them?
You need to find a provider you can trust, they will have access to your bank accounts and the inner workings of your business.
Before you make your final decision, take time to understand the culture of the company. Is it a good fit for your business? Do you like the CEO? Do you agree with his/her view of life? Have they taken the time to fully understand you and your business?
Meet a number of individuals within the company. Look at their code of ethics and how they manage and police their workforce. Do they have a clear escalation process?
Look at their case studies and get references from other clients.
Ask to see CVs for all individuals who will be working on your account. A good quality outsourcer will also allow you the opportunity to meet your team in advance. Thankfully HR problems will no longer take up your precious management time, but it is vital that you are comfortable with the team that will work with you.
It’s all in the SLA
The SLA is pivotal and it’s vital you and the service provider get this right from the outset – before you sign the contract. It depersonalises the outsourcing service, focusing instead on the work being delivered to quality and to timescales and is not limited to the capability of a particular individual. Through the SLA a business has full and absolute power and control over the service without any of the headache of managing people.
At Isosceles we genuinely believe an outsourced accounting service provides better value for money to an SME than an in-house team where the monthly cost of finance has not been monitored and measured for a long time and gets washed into the general bucket of all the other salaries.
Without fail, when a customer is presented with our invoice for payment they ask themselves (and sometimes us):
- “Was this value for money”?
- “Did you deliver to my expectation? “
- “What were the issues that occurred?”
- “Were there any errors or omissions?”
- Or indeed “What extra performance did I get that I wasn’t expecting?”
This level of scrutiny is a positive thing, it keeps our standards high. Our systems and process have to be top-notch. Our people have to be first class. We have to continually strive to maintain high standards and continuously search for the best most efficient processes or solutions for our clients.
If you need help please get in touch. We would be delighted to help.
(Image Source: iStock)