There are many CPAs that adopted outsourcing years ago; happily sending their high-volume, lower skilled work across the globe. But for others, that is a step too far. “I will lose control”, cry some; “The data won’t be secure”, state others. But the truth of the matter is, if it is good enough for the big 5 firms, then surely it is good enough for the smaller ones.
So is this now the time for those hanging back to reconsider?
US accounting firms are facing increasingly complex and rapidly changing tax regulations whilst trying to focus on client acquisition and managing a shortage of trained staff. Wasn’t it always this way? Well no. Travel back to 1997 and for the next 10 years, staff recruitment and retention topped the list of issues for almost all firm sizes. In 2009 as we reached the great recession, the focus moved to trying to retain clients. Move forward to 2012-13 and the scene changes again; the search for new clients emerged as a major priority together with client retention. This year however, client retention ranked among the top five issues in only two of the five size categories. A
And what has changed?
The economy. Now everyone is looking for growth and therefore attracting and keeping quality staff is the priority. Competition for talent is heating up. These issues are exacerbated for small firms and sole practitioners. Their list of top worries reflects the impact of a difficult tax season when CPAs faced numerous last-minute changes in the tax law. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with the changes in what are already complex tax laws; particularly when they occur too close to the tax season!!
So perhaps the idea of outsourcing just a little of your work might not be such a bad idea?
If you look at your workload and identify the parts that are taking the time, it is fairly likely that they are the high volume things that aren’t really paying their way. So imagine that you didn’t have to do those any more – would you have the time to read up on the latest tax regulation?
Or how would your staff feel if they didn’t have to process those hundreds of tax returns but could work on developing that new client you have just taken on to make sure they want to stay with you?
Outsourcing is a big step – but if you make sure you check the outsourcer’s credentials then you can mitigate the risk.
How about giving them a sample job to do that you’ve done yourself?
Now you can give an objective view of their work. Check their data security standards and how they would handle your precious data.
What about turnaround time? Do they work your hours or their own? Or would the hours they work mean you could get work processed even quicker?
Do they use the same accounting software? Do they have people who have worked in US accounting and taxation and do they maintain a regular program of training?
Make sure they are happy with ad hoc work and that you don’t have to commit to purchasing hundreds of hours of their time each month (unless of course you want to).
And check what they can do – do they have the capacity to look after all of your bookkeeping for you or are they just interested in your tax return processing?
Outsourcing is actually very simple once the company integration takes place and you will very soon wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.
So if you are a small practice which is desperate to grow and creaking at the seams; why not take the first step and talk to a reputable outsourcer.