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Simplified Outsource Monitoring - A Guide for Small Accounting Firms

Maanoj Shah
Posted by Maanoj Shah on Nov 7, 2023 9:38:17 AM

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more enterprises have become inclined toward utilizing outsourcing as a preferred business model. This model has been around, especially in the accounting and legal fields, for decades. 

However, the apprehension around outsourcing did not find closure until recently. When people started working from home and teams coordinating globally on virtual platforms, outsourcing was considered a model that already knew the “new normal.” 

According to a recent study, about 82% of small enterprises have increased business process outsourcing after Covid-19. Unlike the popular belief that outsourcing is dedicated to helping reduce cost, the same study found that strong problem-solving skills are one of the top traits that businesses look for when hiring an outsourcing partner. 

The benefits that small accounting firms reap from outsourcing are endless. However, hiring the right partner is just the beginning of a long-term goal. Since small firms have limited resources, it becomes challenging to manage & monitor outsourced teams.

So, how do you still manage to find an outsourcing partner and make the most of it?

Approaches to take before monitoring your outsourced team

The success of the outsourcing partnership depends heavily on the approach that firms take. Before you begin monitoring the outsource partner, here are some approaches to help them stay on the right track. 

A client-centric approach: Time constraints and limited resources are among the top issues that small accounting firms face. Sharing client feedback and appreciation with the outsourcing team can help them tailor solutions according to the needs of the clients.

Outsourcing also allows the in-house team to focus on developing strategies and working on tasks important to the client. This helps the small accounting firms provide better quality of service overall.

Quality assurance: In the field of accounting, the quality of the tasks delivered plays an important role. The parameters set for the outsource partner should be based on quality rather than quantity.

Small accounting firms can also set a variety of metrics with an outsourced team that enables them to abide by compliance, regulations, and standard quality. This not only helps maintain the firm’s reputation but also makes them reliable.

Scalability & Growth: Outsourcing is not merely about reducing operational costs. It’s a strategic move to encourage growth. Small accounting firms should encourage outsourcing firms to cater to the growth of not only their firm but also the end clients.

Focusing on scalability helps them expand service offerings, such as financial planning, consulting, and specialized tax services. This can help them gain a significant competitive advantage.

Innovation & Technology: The accounting industry is continuously evolving and so are the software and technology. A small CPA firm should always keep an eye on the proper utilization of technology and adaptation to the latest trends by the outsourcing team. With the right kind of collaboration, small CPA firms can stay ahead of their competitors and provide better services. 

Now that you understand the approaches and parameters that can be taken to achieve the business goals let us understand how you can thoroughly monitor the outsourcing team for success.

Tracking and managing outsourcing teams 

To ensure that your resources, time, and money are being used effectively, start by choosing a project management tool. Use the software of your choice to assign tasks, track progress, and ensure that the deadlines are met. Some of the top project management tools include, Asana, ClickUp, Smartsheet, and Basecamp. There are project management solutions designed specifically for accounting firms, too – including Mango Practice Management, Canopy, Karbon, FinancialCents, and others.

It is not enough to just know the status of the tasks; it is also important to track the time taken to complete them and monitor if the resources are being optimally used. This helps ensure efficiency and productivity.

Once you have set a regular channel for tracking, make sure to review the work consistently. This will help make sure that the outsourcing team meets the agreed-upon standards. Keeping a check on the deliverables also allows you to provide constructive criticism and highlight areas for improvement.

Instead of treating the outsourced team like an external entity, treat them like an extension of your own team. Foster a culture of accountability and ensure they maintain high standards.

Focus on quality assurance

Monitoring the quality output from outsourced partners is essential for small accounting firms with limited resources. To ensure quality, these firms should start by

  • Clearly defining expectations
  • Communicating specific deliverables
  • Setting quality benchmarks.
  • Regular reporting and meetings
  • Use of quality control checklists
  • Sample audits and key performance indicators (KPIs)

Ongoing training, feedback, and guidance to help the outsource team improve their performance. Daily/weekly/monthly calls can help in continuous learning and growth for updates and feedback, while the establishment of escalation procedures and legal agreements provide a safety net in case of quality discrepancies.

Data security and compliance

When working with outsourced teams, safeguarding sensitive data is imperative. The accounting field deals with a lot of critical financial information. To ensure that outsourcing does not lead to a failing experience, a small accounting firm must implement strong encryption measures to protect information during transmission and storage. Secure file-sharing platforms and VPNs will help ensure that no data gets lost in the process or is misused.

Conducting regular compliance audits helps ensure that the outsource partner also abides by the regulations. While outsourcing, be careful of who you share access with. Sensitive data meant for authorized personnel should be shared only with them. Multi-factor authentication helps maintain strict access control.

Continuous Improvement

Feedback should always be from both ways. Just like you provide your outsource team with regular checks and audits, make room for them to provide feedback on how processes can be streamlined better. Remember, they are experts in what they do! Their advice will go a long way in helping you improve processes and achieve better success.

When you hire an outsource team, make sure to check for the cost-effectiveness of the services they provide. As a team, stay abreast with the industry changes and trends and shift your outsourcing strategy as the situation demands.

Final Words

Managing an outsourced team should not become a challenging task for accounting firms. The key to a successful partnership lies in finding the right partner, maintaining integrity and transparency when setting expectations, and finding monitoring strategies that work for you and your partner. With a focus on the right areas, like data security and quality assurance, small accounting firms can scale faster and grow at their desired pace.

Topics: Practice Growth


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