Small businesses move from an in-house accounting to an outsourced accountant team as a business matures. According to Clutch.co, 27% of small businesses outsource accounting within the first year of a new owner or management team. That percentage increases to 51% when the management team has been in place for 5+ years. There are several pros and cons for outsourcing the accounting function. However this article will not focus on that decision. It will focus on the Do’s and Don’ts after one decides to outsource the accounting function.
Confidentiality – Obtain and review the outsourced accountant’s nondisclosure agreement. This will allow each party to freely share information while keeping that information private.
Security – Obtain and review the security measures the outsourced accountant will be taking with your information. There are several file sharing applications that allow you to securely send sensitive information back and forth.
Establish scope of work and communication frequency – Establishing a clear delegation of duties ensures both parties know exactly what is required and when those requirements are due. It is also a best practice to establish the preferred method and frequency of communication at the start of an engagement.
Establish necessary information timeline – Establishing a timeline for when information will be provided to the outsourced accountant as well as when information should be expected back from the outsourced accountant is essential. Establishing this timeline will allow both parties to manage the workload accordingly.
Withhold Information – The nondisclosure agreement and secure file sharing application should provide a business owner enough confidence that their information will be kept confidential. Withholding or neglecting to provide relevant information will hinder the outsourced accountant’s ability to be a valuable advisor. At Apex CPA’s & Consultants Inc., we consider ourselves a member of the business’ executive team. We believe this approach allows us to quickly provide valuable advice as our goals are aligned with the business.
Assume new projects are included – The outsourced accountant will review the scope of work/requirements for the engagement when completing the proposal. This estimate will allow the outsourced accountant to identify what resources are needed to complete the agreed upon tasks. Changing or adding to the agreed upon tasks may alter the resources needed to support the business. At Apex CPA’s & Consultant Inc., we are always willing to complete additional projects for our clients. If another project or task is needed, we review and create a proposal prior to starting the project. This keeps with parties on the same page in terms of tasks and fees.
Assume information is transferred to accountant – Generally an outsourced accountant is not included in every meeting involved in running the business. Do not assume the accountant is privy to all information or decisions made during the normal course of business. Provide all information that you would normally provide to an in-house accountant. This will help the outsourced accountant provide more meaningful guidance.
At Apex CPA’s & Consultants Inc., we meet with business owners and key personnel to create a personalized, defined partnership agreement before beginning a new engagement. This agreement is designed to illustrate each party’s responsibilities in relation to the engagement. If you would like to learn more about how an outside accountant can help your business reach out to us today!