Outsourcing accounting is all about making your life easier.
That means streamlining your schedule, ensuring the accuracy of your reports and generally freeing up resources so you can devote them to accomplishing your goals. We have often heard that the hardest part of working with an outsourced accounting provider is managing the transition. That’s why we’ve prepared the tips below. Hopefully they will prove helpful in making your transition to an outsourced accounting provider seamless and easy.
Transition Tip One: Documentation
As outsourced accountants, we enter new environments and have to learn how an organization works from the ground up. We’re comfortable observing new cultures, personalities and workflows to get up to speed, but the process is much faster when clients are able to present documents that explain their current accounting/finance department structure. If this documentation already exists, it’s always advisable to have it updated before engaging your outsourced accountant. If the documentation does not exist, creating one is a great opportunity to formalize processes that are the beating heart of your organization’s financial operations.
Transition Tip Two: Hold on to Your Key Resources
If you’re losing a member of your finance team to a career change, retirement or for any other reason, make sure you bring in your outsourced partner while they are still in-house. The devil is in the details, so those with hands-on experience managing your finances often have crucial insight into processes and institutional knowledge that is fundamental to our work. We’ve seen worst case scenarios – like businesses locked out of their own accounts because employees who left took essential information, like crucial passwords, with them.
Transition Tip Three: Manage Your Expectations
Working with an outsourced accounting provider isn’t the same as having an employee or finance team. Many clients feel outsourced providers are much more efficient, are better equipped to manage complex tasks and yield a higher-quality product. The other side of the coin, though, is that your outsourced accountant isn’t in the office next door, can’t go out for coffee and, depending on the specific arrangement, may have other professional commitments. Most clients find the pros outweigh the cons and that scheduling regular check-ins, establishing shared goals and communicating effectively will enable great results.
Furthermore, some clients engage providers without being entirely sure what services they need. Use the following checklist to get a general idea (but keep in mind, these are just the most common services and this list is far from exhaustive). Do you need an outsourced accounting firm for:
- Bank reconciliations
- Credit card reconciliations
- Create invoices and apply customer payments
- Enter vendor bills and issue payments
- Make collections calls
- Manage billing systems
- Track inventory
- Report on inventory
- Month-end reporting
Transition Tip Four: Hone Communication Skills
It’s important that your outsourced accounting provider knows what you’re thinking, and that means you must communicate in a way that is thorough, direct and articulate. Be up-front about your goals, specific when referencing materials and, for clarity, avoid using shorthand or abbreviations. If you’re looking for a report from a particular month, make sure you include the year as well. If you have a particular budget in mind, share that information so we can help avoid frustration down the line. We have the ability to suit your goals and expectations as long as we understand what those are. We think of ourselves as a customer service company first, so we’re always looking for the ways we can keep our clients happy. By being specific in requests and candid in expressing your goals, you will give us what we need to excel.
Transition Tip Five: Access and Permissions
On the technical side, you should be prepared to contact your bank to set up permissions for a new user. For a variety of reasons, you don’t want to share one set of banking credentials. In addition, ask if your existing cybersecurity measures are sufficient in their current form or need to be updated and expanded to accommodate remote access. If you need help to this end, we can put you in touch with our affiliate, CyZen, a company specializing in cybersecurity.
We hope these tips will make your transition to an outsourced accounting provider easier. Of course, if you have any questions about the services we offer as outsourced accountants, or are seeking more insight concerning your transition, contact us today.