How to structure your team when you start to outsource year end accounts prep
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
To get the full benefit of outsourcing your year-end accounts prep to an accounts outsourcing provider, you need to rethink your workflows, roles and responsibilities in your team.
The firms that get the full benefit of outsourcing aim to remove or reduce the grind from the qualified members of the team. After all, you don’t want to pay a fully qualified accountant to do something which a very competent administrator could do on their behalf.
To get accounts outsourcing off the ground in your firm normally requires an outsourcing champion. Unless you are a 1-3 person firm this is not normally you, it will be one of your team. This person will initially work with the accounts outsourcer to identify how they will work together, in particular, how and when they will communicate, and who does what in the year-end accounts process. For example, the champion will put together checklists which have to be completed before a job can be sent over to the accounts outsourcer.
Once the accounts outsourcing process is bedded down within your firm, you want to release your outsourcing champion from the day-to-day aspects of liaising with the outsourcer. 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 as follows:
- 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 have got stuck with outsourcing when their staff get worried about what they will be doing it the accounts prep is outsourced to an outsourcer. 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.
This is why 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 get the easy jobs?