In a recent Group Accountability Call of the Accountants Millionaires’ Club, the topic of conversation turned once again to how to outsource accounting services. Our club member had just started the process of outsourcing (again) and wanted to discuss what was the right structure for his team to take full advantage of outsourcing his year-end accounts prep. This blog post contains the advice he received on the group call.
How to outsource accounting services: restructuring your team
How do you get the full benefit of outsourcing your year-end accounts prep to an accounts outsourcing provider? Firstly you need to rethink your workflows, roles, and responsibilities in your team.
The full benefit of outsourcing is that you can remove or reduce the grind from your qualified team members. After all, you don’t want to pay a fully qualified accountant to do something which a very competent administrator could do.
To get accounts outsourcing off the ground in your firm, designate an outsourcing champion. Unless you are a 1-3 person firm this shouldn't be you, it should be one of your team. This person will liaise with the accounts outsourcer to identify how you will work together. They need to consider how and when they will communicate, and who does what in the year-end accounts process. For example, the champion will put together checklists that have to be completed before a job can be sent over to the accounts outsourcer.
Once the accounts outsourcing process is bedded down, you can "release" your outsourcing champion from this role. These champions are normally too expensive to be involved in getting jobs together to send over to your outsourcer. This is where your Outsourcing Co-ordinator comes in.
Their role is to:
- Liaise with the clients to get their records in at the right point in the year
- Project manage the year-end accounts prep jobs with the outsourced provider
- Let your client-facing accounts managers know when they have started to chase for records and when the first queries will come back
What does this leave your managers and qualified staff to do?
Many firms get stuck with outsourcing when their staff gets worried about what it means for their jobs. The resistance isn’t so much “how to outsource accounting services”, but what will I be doing IF we outsource accounting services. If this resistance isn’t tackled, the project to start outsourcing year-end accounts prep normally grinds to a halt.
It’s so important to help your staff see a compelling vision of the future when your firm is outsourcing year-end accounts prep. What will they be doing after the firm outsources year-end accounts prep? Will the firm still retain some year-end jobs in-house? How will you guarantee that the crappy jobs don’t stay with them and the outsourcer just gets the easy jobs?