Finance and accounting involve more than just routine bookkeeping and preparation of financial statements. It is the pillar of your business. You must know your precise financial status and health at any time in order to take the right business decision. Your accounts must be up to date, properly structured and accurately documented with a set of right policy decisions in place. Not all businesses are likely to have talented accounting personnel and CFOs to provide perfect service. You will find it is too expensive and, besides, talent often goes elsewhere leaving your accounting in disarray. It is easier, less expensive and productive to hire accounting outsourcing providers but how do you find the right outsourced accounting and finance services is a question to consider. These guidelines will help.
You have these possible scenarios for finance and accounting section of your business operations:
Employ low level bookkeeping staff for routine work and outsource accounting and finance services to a suitable service provider who can provide C level expertise with their own in-house CFO to focus on core financial planning and analysis.
You simply hire a CFO for leadership and let accounting outsourcing providers take care of routine accounting and bookkeeping functions.
Outsource entire accounting and financials.
Which option to choose depends on your present and future course of action. Anyway, you could start the process this way.
Is it a big name company?
Some BPO companies like Accenture and Capgemini have built up a reputation internationally for excellence across the accounting and financial consulting landscape. You could consider the big names. They have the software, excellently trained and qualified professionals at every level and defined ethics. The downside is that you will be paying higher fees for their services. Look for a mid-tier company with a proven track record in outsourced accounting and finance services.
Accounting Platforms in use
You may be using QuickBooks and the outsourced service provider may be using Sage or Quicken as the accounting platform. It is a tedious affair to transpose data from one platform to another. Ideally, the accounting service you choose should offer to work using the same package as you have been doing for years.
Flexibility and modular service packages
Today you may decide to shift only the basic processes such as collections, order management and transaction processing. A year later you may assign them even more responsibilities such as record to report, financial planning and analysis and then investment and taxation. The accounting service provider you have in your sight should have end to end service capabilities and yet be able to take on only those modules you choose.
It helps if they have served larger business enterprises
Business model and accounting of a small business operator are different from that of larger corporations. It is a plus point for an outsourced service provider to claim larger enterprises as their clients. One benefit of choosing such services is the quality of services, their familiarity with enterprise-level financials and the ability to handle volume work under pressure. When they have portfolios of large corporations they will employ only the best personnel and you get the benefit of their expertise.
What do they offer?
You will find hundreds of outsourced accountants capable of handling day to day and routine accounting functions. Professional, top-notch accounting outsource services do more:
Improvement in your bottom line: Your accounting functions are handled in time. Beyond that you get the benefit of analytical insights that help to reduce cost and improvement in your finance processes such as collections, reduction of bad debts and continuous improvement. You will be surprised at what their experts can uncover.
These days video conferencing is easy. Prior to making a decision arrange to get to know their key personnel. IF it is a hole in the wall operation you will typically speak with only one person who probably outsources the work you outsource to him. Trustworthy companies that wish to build trust will arrange a virtual face to face meeting with execs who will handle your account and even give you a video tour of their office. You get a detailed resume of people who will handle your account.
Timely status reports are important to help you take fast decisions. If you are in the US and you outsource to financial services in India then you can expect them to work when you are sleeping. Go to the office the next day and you have up to the minute financial records. Imagine knowing the exact state of your finances and receiving a report on possible implications and line of action.
Your area-specific regulation and taxation expertise
One important criterion you will need to be careful about is the extent of knowledge and familiarity with regulations and tax laws applicable to the region where you run your business. It may surprise you that even some middle-level accounting services employ specialists who make it their business to be conversant with all regulatory compliances and taxation. You can choose them with confidence. After all, the other side of the coin of accounting and finance is regulatory compliance and taxation.
At the very least the accounting and finance service you think of choosing should be available through various channels of communication. It helps if they designate specific persons to handle your account.
Any service provider will be happy to give you a free trial of a month or three months. It is a good time to try out before you switch or commit.
Plan for the long term. Pick a service provider that is well established because you want the association to continue for years.