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How do I find the right outsourcing company for my accounting needs?

Roger Frederick's Profile

I have a small consulting business. What are some things that I should look at? Experience? Cost? What else?


Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |


Cost, trust and service are the high points on my list.
Cost includes the cost of your time to do the interactions; some outsourcers I've worked with are "my way or the highway"...and if you don't like their system, you're stuck. Others (my favorite being, and there are other good ones as well) have the expertise to adopt your system, depending on what you are on, so you don't need to learn something new. Both approaches are valid; the former tends to cost less in $ terms and be very appropriate for new venturing. The latter is far better when offloading a going process since you have a quick transition and the history is retained.

Trust: it goes without saying. I get referrals. If I'm depending on both their competence and their honesty, this is probably the most significant filter.

Service: What do you want, do they do it? If you don't want it do you still get charged? Many small accounting firms are getting very adept at scaling up and down to your needs. The other part is, are they available 8/5 or 24/7 or something else.

Lastly, it is a definite filter (unless we're talking overseas) that they are within 5 minutes. It may be just me, but I like to sit down with my service firms...or at least know that I don't have to carve out half a day to do so.

Lynne Holloman
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Woodside Equine Clinic
(Accounting Manager, Woodside Equine Clinic) |

Most of all - get references. If you can contact your local BBB, all the better. I have found that what people say about other companies service and dependability is worth a listen.

Keith Johnson
Title: Principal
Company: Keith E. Johnson CPA PA
(Principal, Keith E. Johnson CPA PA) |

Just keep it in America and you'll be fine. Give Americans the work and opportunities for development and you'll help all of us.

Bill Hite
Title: CEO & Founder
Company: Hull Speed Associates GmbH
(CEO & Founder, Hull Speed Associates GmbH) |

Good morning - I would agree with Keith. Trust and Service are some of the key's. We do what ever we can to ensure our clients get what they need. This includes many tasks or services which fall outside of traditional back office functions. Getting references and having good chemistry with the person you will be working with will make a big difference. One last point is do they really understand the working culture in the country(s) you may be expanding to outside of the US to. Providing accounting services is one thing, but knowing the local culture and the local language will save you time, money and a lot of headaches in the end.

I hope this helps.

Topic Expert
Bob Stenz
Title: Controller
Company: Silicon Valley start-up
(Controller, Silicon Valley start-up) |

In addition to that mentioned above, knowing what you want is key. Are you looking for taxes, book keeping, and/or financial planning? Do you require all of this from a single provider? Depending on your needs and size, you could efficiently separate each of these areas to a different service provider/employee/consultant for the best solution.

Topic Expert
J.D. Floyd
Title: Owner, CFO
Company: CFO Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.
(Owner, CFO, CFO Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.) |

As with all professional services, the buyer needs to know what they want before they ask for quotes.

Outsourcing and it's definition defer with the needs. Most small CPA firms have been doing Outsourcing for years, but they call it Write-Up work. Solo consultants do things like outsourced CFO or Controller work. Large multinational outsourcing companies cover all aspects of Backoffice, IT and Call Center work.

My advice is to define what you need first, then consult the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) website for a directory of service providers. Disclaimer; I am a member of IAOP and my specialty is as an outsourced CFO.

J.D. Floyd

Mollie Mossman
Title: CPA CMA MBA & CRE Broker
Company: Future World Corporation
(CPA CMA MBA & CRE Broker, Future World Corporation) |

Roger, for a small business like yours I would recommend getting a consultant who can set up a system YOU understand and can maintain.

When running any size business, the key is to use scarce resources to maximize results. I have seen too many companies try to hire a CFO when they need a controller, or a controller when they need a good accounting manager. So don't sign up for fortune 500 services...yet.

If your outsourcing solution is focused on you becoming dependent on them, pass. Set up something you can manage. With today's technology this is easier than ever. Make the things you are using already more efficient. For example, see your banker about electronic banking and take advantage of all the features there - now you can deposit by scanning checks, set up payments, manage cash flow and even invoice right from there.

This way you engage your outsourced solutions for when you need them.

While I have spent most of my career providing CFO services for national companies, the strategy is the same. Seek out the best solution with the least outlay of time and money.

Mollie Mossman, CPA, CMA, MBA
Commercial Real Estate Broker (Texas License)

Jeff Langston
Title: CFO
Company: Baxter Franchise Group
(CFO, Baxter Franchise Group) |

Ask for reference accounts. When you find a few good ones, give them a small project first to see how they perform before signing them up for something bigger.

I have found that language and cultural barriers are causes of confusion and delays from my past experiences. So make sure you know & communicate exactly what you want.

Gerri Lazarre
Title: Owner
Company: TriMerge Consulting Group, PA (dba TriMe..
(Owner, TriMerge Consulting Group, PA (dba TriMergeCPA)) |

Everyone had some good have to figure out exactly what you need and don't just go with one referral. Also, meet with a few referrals so that you can interview the consultant or firm to make sure you feel comfortable with them, to be able to trust them and that they can provide you with the right expertise at the right price. If the person your interviewing needs to understand your business and how it works in order to properly account for the transactions of your business and it's best for them to know a little bit about taxes as well, this is important for smaller to medium size companies. I think the interview or intake meeting in so important because it allows you to see what this person knows (and not just the fast talkers), you need for them to help you understand what your doing right, what your doing wrong and what you didn't even know, they have to provide services, advice and recommendations that are value added. Also, speak with former and current clients to learn more about how they manage their client relationships.

And believe me, cheaper is not always better. I had a small import/export company come to us because their former CPA said that they didn't need any accounting system and instead had them come in during tax time and had them sit with him for 20 minutes and produced a business tax return for a very low fee. When I first met with them, I was a bit surprised and stated that it's best to have an interview or intake meeting first to learn more about their business so that we can discuss what's best before we prepare the tax return. Turns out this small import/export company was not as small as I thought they were, and were handling transactions from the UK to African from their home based business in Florida. It turns out they needed more than just tax services, they needed outsourced accounting services, training and other financial management tools and assistance.

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