Guide to Outsourcing Accounting Work (Part 3 of 4)
In Part 3 we will got through the different IT set-ups possible and how to tell your clients you are using an accounting outsourcing provider.
There are three ways in which an outsourcing provider will offer to work with your firm when it comes to IT.
This is by far the easiest of the three options because it’s possible that all you’ll have to do is give your overseas team members login details that will give them access to your clients’ files. If you have supporting documents outside of the cloud system you can use Dropbox or a similar service.
(Here at BOSS we provide you with the option of using our web portal since it is more secure than services like Dropbox.)
The first online work configuration is where you use a Terminal Server or Citrix Server and provide the outsourced accountant with access in just the same way you provide access to your in-house staff.
The second configuration is where you have a Small Business Server (SBS). In this case you’ll need to have an extra computer connected to the SBS for every outsourced accountant and the offshore team member will connect to that compute using Windows Remote Desktop.
There are some additional configurations that are possible, but we do not recommend them for security and speed reasons.
In either case you’re going to want your connections to your outsourcing provider checked for speed. What’s important is the upload speed at your end (not download speed). If you find them lacking you may need to upgrade one or more of the following: server, workstation, router or you may have to change your Internet Service Provider plan or provider altogether.
Sometimes your physical distance to the Telstra Exchange can have a negative impact on your speed and connection quality. If this is the case it’s possible to have the server collocated to a central data centre that utilises fibre-optic comms to boost speed.
In this case, you upload all necessary data (client ledger & tax file, last years working papers and tax return and supporting docs), to a service like Dropbox or the outsourcing providers own web server.
The accounting outsourcing provider must have the software you use (including all relevant versions).
This process only takes 5-10 minutes extra for each job.
You’re going to want to prep your staff. When some people hear “outsourcing’ they automatically think that it means they’re about to be downsized, instead of the change meaning opportunities for growth.
So in order to head off any panic in the office make sure your staff knows:
that you’re doing this in order to grow, not downsize
how outsourcing is going to help you meet the milestones you’ve set for your firm
how their job descriptions are going to change and improve
how outsourcing is going to benefit them
how the new workflow will work
that there will be a period where that outsourcing-related workflow will need to be tweaked and that you’re going to want their help in making it all run as smoothly as possible
Two key components of a beneficial outsourcing integration are organisation and communication.
You’ll find that there really isn’t a gigantic difference between how you work now and how you’ll work with your outsourced accountant.
For example, when it comes to preparing a job you’re still going to want to collect all of the pertinent info, just like you do now. The difference is that you will need to make sure you are disciplined and don’t send off a job to the outsourced accountant until you have all the data since sending stuff piecemeal slows everyone down.
Top tier providers are going to be able to adapt to your in-house procedures and working papers. BOSS, for example, will send you a questionnaire before your first file gets transferred. It will have questions like, “What do you consider to be a material difference when reconciling GST?” so that your overseas team has a clear idea of your standards and practices.
You’re also going to want to get all the query answers in one go from your client (or worst case in two goes!) so that collated info gets back and forth to your offshore accountant in a timely manner.
It is now Australian and New Zealand law that you must inform your clients that you are going to be using outsourced workers (even if they are Australian based contractors). A low-key approach seems to work best in keeping clients informed that their private details will be secure.
The best way to do this is to incorporate something into your engagement letter that informs your clients but keeps it low-key.
Just like you, we here at [your firm] are operating a business, which means that we experience the same pressures and frustrations as many of you. We have difficulty finding professional staff and trying to keep costs down is a constant battle.
We are now employing a number of strategies which we hope will keep our costs down, thereby allowing us to remain competitive with the fees we charge.
One of these strategies is to outsource [compliance, bookkeeping, payroll, etc.] work. We currently have a relationship with a company operating out of Sydney which provides qualified accounting professionals working from offices in India.
The firm holds a Practicing Certificate from the CAANZ and operates to extremely high ethical, privacy, and security standards. These accountants have limited access to our database, and are able to cost-effectively undertake accounting and tax functions.
This frees up the time of our highly qualified team and allows us to add value to you and your business, rather than attending to compliance obligations.
That’s it for Part 3. We hope you found the information valuable. Look out for Part 4 in two week’s time.