5 things to look for when deciding on your accounting outsourcing provider

Choosing an accounting outsourcing provider to outsource your year end accounts prep is a big decision. Get it right and you can solve all your resource headaches overnight. Get it wrong and your very reputation could be at risk. Beyond the usual stuff like testimonials, what should you look for when choosing your accounting outsourcing firm? In this blog post we explore what specifically you should look for when doing your due diligence on any potential accounting or bookkeeping outsourcing provider.

Choosing an accounting outsourcing provider is a tough decision

Given that you can't afford mistakes or sloppy work on your clients affairs, choosing to use an accounting outsourcing provider is a big decision which should not be taken lightly. The better accounts outsourcing companies will tell you that it is the equivalent of hiring a new team for your firm. Given how important this decision is to use an accounts outsourcing firm to help you deliver your client's work,  it is vital that you do your due diligence on any potential accounts outsourcer BEFORE you press the button and send them work to complete.

How will you guarantee that you will do a better job than us?

What are their quality standards like?

Most accountants (or certainly the ones we have spoken to) want to know fairly early on in their conversations with a potential accounts outsourcing company is “How will we know that you will do as good as job as us?” Putting aside cost and turnaround time, getting the right quality of work from your outsourcer is often what breaks an outsourcing arrangement.

Here are some questions to ask any potential outsourcer:

  • How will you guarantee that you will do as good a job, or an even better job than us?
  • How can you guarantee the quality of your work?
  • What quality control mechanisms do you have in place before a job goes out?

Do they work YOUR office hours or their office hours?

Availability and location of support

By the very nature of an outsourcing relationship, your accounts outsourced provider is unlikely to be on your doorstep. However, their location shouldn't drive their working hours. The good accounts outsourcing companies, regardless of where they are based, will work UK hours. (Or the time zone you need). Therefore, to make sure that you get the responsiveness that you require from any outsourcer, you do need to understand:

  • What office hours they work?
  • How can you contact them during the day or outside of office hours?
  • Do they have a team based in the UK?
  • Will your team have named contacts to contact?
  • Is there the option of video calls via skype or a conference call software?

What software packages do they really use?

You need your preferred accounts outsourcing company to use the same pieces of software that you use with your clients. Be aware that many accounts outsourcers will claim they can use every potential piece of accounting/bookkeeping software, but this may not actually be the reality. The last thing you want to happen is for you to be paying for your accounts outsourcer to learn how to use your preferred software. This can be a costly learning curve in terms of time taken AND mistakes creeping in. Therefore, do ask for evidence of their certification or competence in the main pieces of accounting software that your firm and clients use.

Work flows

In my experience, every firm has a slightly different way of doing things. It’s important that your outsourcer adapts to your way of doing things. After all, what you are paying for is an extended team member who will work the way you want them too. Not all outsourcers have the capability to adjust to your way of working. Sometimes their cost base is reliant on a certain way of doing things.

Quality of their English

Communication, and the quality of communication is vital for the success of an accounts outsourcing relationship. The English language may be predominantly the same all over the world, but how it is used, particularly the subtles and nuances are exceptionally important. Therefore, before you enter into a relationship with an outsourcer, find out exactly how well they really understand what you are asking both in a written and verbal form.

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