Accountancy outsourcing has been around long enough that we’ve developed solutions for most of the problems you’re likely to encounter. With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips based on what we’ve learned over the years.

Our four-step outsourcing process is the result of a lot of planning, testing and refinement.

As a rule, when a problem occurs, we reckon you should…

  1. Solve it, ASAP, of course.
  2. Then change the way you work to stop it happening again.

It’s about listening to clients and listening to our outsourcing partners overseas. Where are the sticking points? Where can we automate, iterate or invest?

Even with tried and tested processes like ours, there’s always room to squeeze out a drop more efficiency.

Problem 1: No clarity over responsibilities

The minute you hear someone say “Well, we assumed you were doing that!” you’ve got a problem.

Sometimes it’s wishful thinking – if you don’t discuss it, you just hope it might magically get dealt with – but more often than not, it’s a failure to plan.

That’s why our process starts with pinning down exactly who is responsible for what and documenting it to, if we’re honest, a slightly obsessive degree.

Problem 2: Inadequate tools

When outsourcing was a big new idea back in the 1990s, and people went charging into it without much thought, we were missing a few important tools.

Cloud accounting didn’t exist, for example, so data was exchanged using painfully slow file transfer software, over email or, amazingly, via snail mail, with boxes of paperwork crossing continents.

Now, there’s no reason our overseas team can’t work in the same accounting systems as you, updating information in real time.

It just takes a bit of care and attention upfront to make sure the right software is in place, with the necessary integrations, licences and training.

Problem 3: Poor communications

Another thing that was missing back in the 1990s was reliable online video conferencing or voice-over-internet (VOIP) phone calls.

Let’s admit it: the stereotype of outsourcing is of endless frustration dealing with people with heavy accents on bad phone lines.

These days, that’s all got much easier, with the rise of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and so on. Really, there’s no excuse for dealing with someone in India to feel any different to talking to someone in Ipswich.

Our process includes establishing total clarity on communications – who should you talk to, through which medium, and when?

And to be on the safe side, our UK team is always on hand if you need input or escalation.

Problem 4: Failure to feed back

If there’s something the client isn’t happy about, it can usually be fixed, as long as the outsourcing partner is told about it.

We’ve solved this problem by building a feedback loop into our process.

On a monthly or quarterly basis, we ask clients to review the work that’s been done for them and prompt them to suggest to the UK management team any improvements they might like to see.

It’s about being proactive, not just waiting for you to raise issues or, worse, letting them simmer.

Problem 5: No commitment to customer service

The final backstop is great customer service.

Outsourcing really shouldn’t mean bland online interfaces or automated responses – what really makes it work is people.

If things don’t go to plan, or there’s a blockage, all our clients need to do is pick up the phone or fire off an email and we’ll be on it immediately.

If you want to talk through how outsourcing might work in practice for your accountancy firm or finance department, give us a call.