When making the decision for what type of team or service provider should handle the company accounting services, the CEO or owner needs to keep an eye on many factors—some of which may not always be in agreement. To ensure an efficient, effective and profitable future, everything from service quality and experience to cost and scalability need to be considered. Assessing and choosing the right option requires checking a lot of boxes—but this guide should help keep you track to a successful decision.
Appoint An Internal Review Team
The people within the company need to be brought on board. Start by opening a discussion on how your company is currently handling the accounting and where improvements are necessary. Try to keep personal opinions, finger pointing and accusations out of it to ensure that everyone is given a fair chance to contribute positive support. You may have a weak link or two in your current system that won’t make it to the final stage but this is not the place to addressing those changes. Instead focus on highlighting the “wish list” for the new system and services. You may find that many things cannot be handled by an internal team thus helping narrow your selections to external or outsourced accounting services.
Research Different Accounting Services Options
Now that you have a team in place, create a short list of the “types” of services that will serve your needs. For some, this may be bringing in an outside consultant or CFO. For others, it may mean outsourcing the entire accounting department. Your team should have a good idea of its gaps and requirements.
Define Expectations and Deliverables
You’ll want to define a vision of your future through questions, such as what does your business need to complete their accounting tasks effectively, and how will an accounting services provider help you? Set a time frame for launching and managing a new accounting system. If new software needs to be purchased, set an implementation time frame. Professional accounting services should be able to help you envision your future even before you select one. The best will be able to help steward your vision for the future because they know better than anyone what is an ideal setup and what is a realistic corresponding timeframe.
Put It In The Budget
The cost of a new accounting service provider will need to be fit into your company's budget. Be sure to obtain detailed quotes from service providers, so you understand the variety of different services they offer. Remember that there is more to a given fee than just the amount. What you receive in exchange for a monthly fee, the caliber of the professionals performing the work, and the reliability and continuity of the team should all factor in to gauging pricing and affordability. If you need to purchase new software or accounting integrations, be sure you can justify the higher costs. If the investment is reasonable and in line with your budget, then the team can move forward in evaluating potential accounting service providers.
Gather Accounting Services Options
Here you’ll start to evaluate options for new accounting services and begin the next steps in creating a list of potential providers. Ask for referrals from companies and peers in your industry. Vendors and resellers can also provide advice on how to narrow down the selection process to find the best provider for your company’s needs.
Reviewing Accounting Services
Prospective service providers should be able to provide you with a clear picture of expectations and deliverables. Ask for demos so you can see how they work, sample financial reports and examples of current or previous client case studies. They should also be able to provide you with testimonials and references from current clients. If you have very specific needs due to a niche industry or regulatory requirements, ask for specific references from clients in those industries to ensure they know how to manage your unique needs.
Finally, make sure to introduce the members of your team that will be guiding, interacting with and managing your new accounting services provider. You want to make sure that everyone can play well together—with open lines of communication, ease of access and no egos or attitudes to hamper productivity.