I believe that every CPA firm is going to have to outsource if they are going to survive. Does that sound extreme? Previously, conversations around outsourcing have centered on how much money firms could save. But with fewer and fewer accounting graduates entering the market in the U.S. each year the game has changed. Now you are faced with the challenge of simply finding the people you need to get your work done. Outsourcing will be a necessary part of how you address that problem.
But outsourcing carries risks. It means changing your processes, which is time consuming and can potentially impact the quality of your work.
The question for you to answer then is “What’s the best way for my firm to gain experience in outsourcing while minimizing the risk.”
A Standard Approach, Tailored to Your Firm
The good news is you still have time to learn how to apply outsourcing to your firm. While I don’t believe in “one size fits all” there are certain standard approaches we use when working with clients to help minimize the risk.
- Start small and use the lessons to grow -Start the onboarding process with a clearly defined set of tasks and deliverables for a specific number of accounts. If you can, also take this opportunity to put some standardization around that process. We have experience doing this for our clients and it helps make it easier to scale as you bring more work on for your offshore team. As your team matures, gradually increase the types and complexity of tasks and deliverables they do.
- Use a work management system to drive transparency – No modern collaboration project is complete without a strong work management tool that gives you a helicopter view of your workflow, especially when different geographies and time zones come into play. We use an award-winning task management system to track progress on every piece of work we perform, so our clients know exactly where everything is and when it is due. Remember, a work management process is not complete without a robust review process, so you will need to watch how your partner handles this and make sure you interrogate it fiercely.
- Define your KPIs and track them systematically – It’s a cliche that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, but it’s also true. We use a simple set of online dashboards to track key success metrics around utilization, task completion times, and work quality. We review these regularly with our clients to ensure we’re meeting their goals. They are also a great way to identify opportunities for ongoing improvement.
The bottom line
At some point soon, every CPA firm will have to outsource in order to get the talent they need to do their work. There will be winners and there will be losers. The winners are the ones who will learn how to make outsourcing work for them.