Part 1: An Accountant’s Guide to Outsourcing in the New Normal

6th Oct 2020
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Editor’s Note: As the new normal starts to settle in, Accounting firm owners have been trying their best to revive their firms, with the given constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, here’s a 3-part series on ‘An Accountant’s Guide to Outsourcing in the New Normal’, aiming to help the accounting community to survive, revive, and proliferate. The first part focuses on those working on their laptops, paving their ways to achieve their targets while sitting at home.

Recently, ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has releasedCoronavirus (COVID-19): advice for employers and employees’. Needless to say, almost all firms have tried their best to comply with the proposed guidelines and accounting firms have been no exception to this.

Even though remote working brings difficulties in the normal flow of work, many accounting firms have considered the work-from-home (WFH) option as the best alternative to make sure of the health and well-being of the employees and sustain the business.

In a situation, where Accountants are stuck between the welfare of their employees and the interest of their business, outsourcing comes to the rescue. Many firms have resorted to accounting outsourcing in the past few months and surprisingly, it has surfaced to be a benefitted niche in the wake of COVID-19 crisis.

Here are some of the major challenges that firm owners have tackled with the help of outsourcing during the last six months: 

Difficulty in Managing a Remote Setup

No contingency plan has been able to ever make room for a situation like this. Most firms and firm owners, especially the smaller accounting firms, have struggled to adapt to the remote setup. Due to the lack of innovative technology, adequate funds, and proper training of employees — many accounting firms have failed to function efficiently in these times.

Even if the firm has the means to afford to make the necessary configurations, by the time it identifies the solution, costly mistakes may have affected the activities, funds, and even their relationships with clients.

The burning question on every firm owner’s mind during the past six months is this: How to manage costs and profits — with limited resources — while protecting clients and staff in the financial aftermath of the pandemic?

In an attempt to get rid of the headache of implementing processes, technology and software required to operate remotely, accounting firms have outsourced services to an offshore team that already has measures in place, that too at a fraction of the cost.

Struggles to Juggle Time and Cost

These are times to recalibrate, rebuild, and relaunch — something that many accountants had planned at the beginning of the year.

As firms join forces with an outsourcing partner, it eliminates the cost of hiring personnel for auxiliary activities, updating technologies, and above all, it saves tremendous amounts of time. Sometimes, the cost is reduced upto 50% when you hire an offshore accounting team.

Long-standing Outsourcing firms have dependable automation systems and highly skilled experts. Hence, it helps you improve your turnaround time, increase accuracy, and optimize processes to deliver highly efficient services.

Risks of Data Breach   

As an accountant thinks of having a remote setup, ‘fear of data breach’ is one thing that bothers them most.

Shifting to the digital platform for running one’s accounting firm has increased security risks and in the absence of the right technological support, the threats that come with remote working is a risk to the entire business.

Here’s when an outsourcing firm comes into the picture, to provide a risk-proof armour of cybersecurity solutions. Almost all reputed outsourcing firms come with cybersecurity certifications and an over-arching shield of GDPR compliance, guaranteeing your data from being safe from risks and breaches. It is indeed the best way to get high-quality services, with cloud infrastructure without investing in expensive software for cybersecurity.

Moreover, outsourcing also helps in reducing the risk of internal frauds since all the books and records are maintained by an independent body that carries no financial interest in the matters of the company.

So, in a nutshell, firms get the cybersecurity levels of EU registered GDPR Compliance while also getting experts to share their workload, at a fraction of their usual overhead costs.

Lacking the Ability to Adjust

‘Uncertain’ is the most appropriate adjective given to these times and it reasons why accounting firms are having such a tough time adjusting to the new normal. The usual discourse of work is long gone and now, firms are finding it difficult to adjust and come up with a new well-defined strategy.

They need experts who are more than just a supplier of services, partners who can guide them through these challenging times, not only with their proficiency in accounting but further assistance as well. And luckily, offshore service providers are proving out to be a solution to all their problems.

The reason why outsourcing partners are considered to have an expert army is that they make a strong investment in personnel. They ensure that every process, from updating books to payroll processing, everything is done perfectly and the clients are not subjected to any penalties due to some error.

Another point that deserves attention is that outsourcing is even beneficial for companies dealing with foreign clients. The forex market has been extremely volatile due to different economic problems in different countries and forex risk is synonymous with huge profits or losses. A specialised team of professionals of an offshore Outsourcing partner can help in avoiding such risks.

Way Forward

Given the circumstances, the only method to sustain these challenging times is to evolve. Accountants have evolved into advisors and they are helping their clients change their strategies to survive in the new normal, just like an outsourcing provider helps an accounting firm to recalibrate to survive in the changing times.

Outsourcing services have been a great aid to Accounting firms, but the question is —  Will this partnership be limited within the timeframe of the pandemic? Or will it go beyond?

If you are planning to go back to offices or adopt a flexible system between home and office, stay tuned for part 2 and part 3. For more information on outsourcing services, checkout QXAS website.

Editorial: Dishant Desai, Head of Operations, QX Accounting Services