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What Is the Right Outsourcing Model for Your Business?

Maanoj Shah
Posted by Maanoj Shah on Jul 2, 2024 3:00:00 PM

Outsourcing has become a key business strategy for accounting firms. It comes with many benefits—cost reductions, a global talent pool, better access to expertise and technology, and more. These are crucial advantages that help firms scale.  

Outsourcing might seem straightforward, but it is all about carefully selecting your partner. The right outsourcing partner is an essential factor in determining your success.  

You may or may not be aware that there are different types of outsourcing models. Before you choose one, it is important to analyze which one best suits your business needs.

Understanding outsourcing models 

Transactional service model 

As the name suggests, the transactional outsourcing model has a traditional, task-oriented approach. Firms have preferred this model since the early days.  

Here, an accounting firm outsources specific tasks or processes to an external service provider. The focus is on completing specific transactions or tasks efficiently and cost-effectively. The relationship is often short-term and based on well-defined deliverables. 

Strategic partnerships 

Strategic partnerships are more of a modern-day outsourcing model. They involve a deep, collaborative relationship between businesses and service providers.  

This model focuses on long-term goals, mutual growth, and value creation. In this case, both parties work closely and share risks and rewards. The outsourcing partner is also responsible for analyzing trends and financial risks and advising accordingly. This kind of partnership provides an advantage in the fast and competitive accounting scheme.

Benefits of transactional services

1. Cost efficiency

Transactional outsourcing plays a vital role in cost savings. In this case, accounting firms outsource specific tasks that help reduce labor costs, avoid investment in new technology, and achieve economies of scale. 

An accounting firm can hire an outsourcing firm that is expert in handling customer service operations, which helps eliminate the need for in-house staff and infrastructure. This is especially beneficial for small accounting firms that operate on low budgets.

2. Flexibility

The transactional outsourcing model offers significant flexibility. It allows accounting firms to scale their operations according to demand, which helps firms that witness a sudden spike in workload during tax season and year-end.  

During these times, accounting firms are swarmed with back-to-back deadlines. They have their hands full as new clients arrive and existing clients become more demanding. With this flexibility, businesses can better manage their work and market demand.

3. Focus on core competencies

By outsourcing non-core tasks, companies can concentrate on their core activities, improving overall efficiency and productivity. This strategic focus allows businesses to allocate more employees to areas that need attention and can generate better revenue.  

Bookkeeping, tax preparation, accounts payable, and receivable are some tasks that are often outsourced. These mundane, voluminous tasks take up a lot of time and energy, leaving resources with little time to focus on what is important. Transactional outsourcing helps ensure that the deadlines are seamlessly met. 

4. Speed

Transactional outsourcing can often lead to faster task execution as the service providers specialize in specific areas. These outsourcing partners have a team of experts, tools, and systems that enable them to perform tasks more efficiently than an in-house team. Transactional outsourcing can be beneficial when you lack time and have deadlines to meet; it reduces downtime and improves productivity.  

Challenges of transactional outsourcing

1. Lack of alignment

This partnership is often task-focused, and hence, there can be a lack of alignment in the goals of both parties. This can lead to unexpected outcomes as the service provider remains focused on meeting goals rather than aligning with the business's vision. 

2. Quality control

Ensuring optimum quality can be challenging if the service provider focuses on efficiency rather than quality. It might necessitate the accounting firm keeping a close eye on the final product delivered by the outsourcing firm, which defeats the purpose of outsourcing altogether. 

3. Limited innovation

Since transactional outsourcing mainly focuses on routine tasks, leaving little room for innovation and improvement. The relationship is short-term and task-oriented, and the provider's chances of taking a creative, problem-solving approach are lean. This might not work out for businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition.  

Benefits of strategic partnerships

1. Alignment with business goals

Strategic models ensure that the outsourcing teams are better-aligned with the company’s long-term goals. This makes for cohesive and effective collaboration, fostering a deeper understanding and commitment to the business’s visions and goals. A strategic partner works closely with an accounting firm to develop strategic initiatives that help them scale. 

2. Growth and innovation

Strategic partnerships play a key role in fostering innovation. The goal of this association is more than completing a few tasks; it is about driving growth.  

Strategic outsourcing partners know the firms inside and out. They collaborate on research and development that leads to the creation of new services and improve the existing ones, focusing on people and processes. This is important for firms that are on a growth journey but lack the means for research. 

3. Shared risks and rewards

As a strategic partner, the outsourcing firm has a stake in the success and failure of the accounting firms. It and its client accounting firm work towards a shared goal and vision to ensure mutual success. The shared approach encourages a more balanced and cooperative relationship. In strategic partnerships, since the risks are shared, both parties are equally careful of the decisions made, which helps reduce the chances of failure. 

4. Improved quality and performance

In this kind of partnership, the focus is always on long-term collaboration. Strategic partnerships often result in higher-quality services and better performance outcomes. The beauty of the nature of the partnership is that it allows improvement, innovation, and adaptation to the changing needs of businesses.  

A long-term partner that understands the business in depth, resulting in faster delivery times, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction.  

Challenges of strategic partnership

1. Higher initial investment

Establishing a strategic partnership requires a higher initial investment—time, resources, and capital. Building a solid partnership involves significant upfront efforts, which are essential in aligning goals and setting up joint processes. However, the long-term benefits overpower the investments. 

2. Complexity

Managing a strategic partnership can be complex, requiring strong governance, clear communication, and well-defined partnerships. The complexities come in coordinating with the external teams, resolving conflicts, and meeting mutual goals. However, it is a matter of understanding the complexities once and then using them for multiple gains.

3. Dependency

When accounting firms indulge in a strategic partnership with outsourcing teams, there is a high reliance on the external party. This can create risks, especially when the partner faces financial or operational challenges. By establishing contingency plans, accounting firms can diversify their partnerships to a greater extent.  

Choosing the right business model for your accounting business 

While both business models have pros and cons, accounting firms need to choose one that is in sync with their goals and vision. Once you have carefully selected an outsourcing partner, talking to them in detail is important to understand what model they can offer and what works best. 

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Topics: Operational Advisory


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