Assessing Outsourced Accounting Options
Business owners and managers often make the decision to outsource their accounting and bookkeeping work for a variety of reasons.
See also Outsourced Accounting/Bookkeeping
Regardless of the why, once the decision has been made it’s essential to find a provider that fits the company’s needs. The sheer number of options available in the marketplace makes it difficult to understand the differences and benefits of using each. For this reason it’s important to objectively qualify providers to understand their strengths and if they can scale the services offered to match the company’s growth. To help companies identify the best company to meet their outsourced accounting needs, Hanson & Company has provided a list of key considerations to make during the evaluation phase below.
Key Evaluation Questions
Knowing how the company is managed and the qualification of the bookkeepers who may work on your account is essential. Key topics to address include:
- How many full time, part time and independent contractors work for the provider?
- Does the company rely on offshore team to complete the accounting and bookkeeping work? If so, where are they located and what is the quality control process?
- How many years of experience does the average staff member have in bookkeeping?
- What certifications and training do staff members maintain?
- Is there an ongoing training requirement in place?
- Are staff members well trained on one accounting software package (i.e. QuickBooks) or many? If so, which ones?
How an outsourced provider handles sensitive financial data including data security is an important concern. Understanding the data security measures in place is an essential part of vendor selection.
- What data security features does the vendor offer?
- If they outsource overseas, what security features are in place at the offshore location?
- Where are their main and back up servers located?
- How is data integrity ensured? How often are data backups generated?
- Is there a disaster recovery plan in place?
For most companies, after security and management/staff skills this is the most important topic. Understanding the cost of service and various packages offered is essential in the decision making process.
- How is pricing determined? Is it a straight hourly rate or are there service packages?
- Can they describe the various service packages offered?
- What costs are included in the agreement and what additional services may fall outside the agreement?
- Are other services offered which the company may need as it continues to grow?
It goes without saying that a provider of any quality should have references to share with prospects. However, we have found that it’s important to obtain references for companies in similar industries or company size. Understanding how the provider works with companies similar to yours is important and will reveal how the relationship may evolve.
- Is there a list of current clients in the same industry as your company?
- Do they have a list of case studies to share showing how they have helped other companies?
It’s important to ensure that your company has the best fit when it comes to the outsourced accounting relationship. For this reason, it’s essential to ask as many questions as necessary in the evaluation phase to ensure the best fit. If you’re company is seeking to outsource or is looking to changes providers, Hanson & Co is here to help! For additional information please contact us at (303) 388-1010, or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.