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10 Questions To Ask Bookkeeping Outsourcing Services

08-Dec-2022

More and more businesses are now using bookkeeping outsourcing services to save significant amount of time and costs on routine accounting tasks.

However, finding a competent bookkeeping service partner is not a matter of luck but thorough research and investigation.

So, it’s crucial to do your research to gauge your potential outsourced bookkeeper. In addition to the type of services and pricing, don’t forget to inquire about their credentials, resources, processes, and work culture beforehand.

In this article, we are listing some important queries that can help you when hiring a bookkeeper.

10 Questions For Outsourced Bookkeeping Services Before Hiring Them

Here is the compilation of top questions. We’ve also explained why they are so important. 

  1. Do you have experience working with businesses in my sector? 

The bookkeeping service provider must have ample experience and expertise needed for your industry. They should be able to understand every aspect of your business and any requirements specific to your sector.

Retail companies and service enterprises may not want to hire a bookkeeper having expertise in manufacturing space only, for instance.

  1. What are the specific services you offer? Do you also provide customized bookkeeping solutions?

The bookkeeping and accounting needs of a small business and a large enterprise are not the same.

Bookkeeping outsourcing services with limited capabilities may work well for small set-ups. However, large businesses and MNCs need a well-equipped and seasoned service partner to handle the workload and challenges posed by complex business operations.

Every accounting or bookkeeping services firm offers a different range of expertise and scope of services.

Bookkeepers with limited skills may only be able to do data entry and other basic tasks. Accounting firms with more experience can provide a wider range of services, including management accounting.

If you have specific needs, you should look for a service provider that offers tailored solutions.

  1. What are your qualifications and certifications as a bookkeeper?

Financial, tax, cost, management, audit, etc., are all different branches of accounting. Also, the bookkeeper can be a generalist or a specialist.

See to it that the outsourced service provider you select has certifications for the categories of services they offer. The firm’s registration status also is an important selection criterion.

checklist-for-choosing-bookkeeping-services

For instance, only a bookkeeper who is expert on US accounting standards can ably handle accounts of a US-based company. 

  1. Tell me about your pricing model.  

Outsourced accounting services companies typically have a variety of pricing options, including standard and customized plans, as well as discounts for certain services.

The charges usually depend on the duration of service. The payment schedule for yearly contracts can be annual or quarterly. Some bookkeeping services also offer pay-per-use model and hourly pricing.

It’s important to understand the pricing and payment policies of any outsourced bookkeeping and/or accounting services company before you sign a contract.

  1. What are your technological capabilities? Which bookkeeping software do you deploy?

The bookkeeper team should be proficient in top accounting/bookkeeping software, such as Sage, NetSuite, Xero, QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Wave, etc.

You can ask which bookkeeping software they deploy and whether their employees are adequately trained to use them. They should also be up-to-date on emerging bookkeeping technology trends and practices.

  1. On-site or Off-site – what will be your work location?

If both parties agree, the outsourced bookkeeping services company’s team can work on-site i.e. on client’s premises. However, it’s not feasible in most scenarios.

Services firms usually like to work off-site i.e. from their location. 24X7 global internet connectivity and digitalization allows them to raise remote accounting teams collaborating in real time.

  1. How would you protect my data and ensure its confidentiality?

The client should be able to trust their bookkeeper with their sensitive financial information and data. You must ask your potential bookkeeping services partner how will they handle your data?

It’s important to know which data storage systems they use, how they segregate duties of their accounting team members and how much data access each member will have.

Tasks like payments & receivables, bank reconciliations, and tax filings can be assigned to different people to limit their access, for example. Only top level employees should have total access as they need to have a complete picture to oversee the entire process.

Moreover, also learn about the safety protocols and monitoring process they follow to prevent data corruption, loss and theft.

  1. What about communication and feedback?

Communication is essential for any successful business relationship. Make sure the outsourced bookkeeping services company you choose has a clear and consistent communication plan.

You need to know which channels (in-person, email, telephonic, or video chats) they will use for communication and who will be the contact person. Also, get details on their reporting and feedback systems.

Sometimes, the service provider may also need to deal with the third party on behalf of their clients. Ask them in advance if you have any such expectation.

  1. How would you ensure work doesn’t suffer when your account manager is unavailable?

If the account manager or other bookkeeping team members are unavailable for some reason, your outsourced bookkeeping services must ensure that your work is not affected. They should have a contingency plan in place with backup employees who can take over your work seamlessly.

signing-bookkeeping-services-contract

Such emergency planning is even more desirable when you’re looking to raise funds or   contemplating merger, acquisition, or exit.  

  1. Bookkeeping and accounting apart, do you also provide advisory services?

Accounting advisors are specialists and highly experienced. They can be just advisors, or may also work on clients’ accounts.

If you’re seeking advisory services, discuss your exact requirement and get a clear idea of their technical proficiency and experience, standard setting experience, and knowledge of applicable statutory rules and compliance regulations. They should be capable of handling complex transactions and also need to have excellent project management skills.

Also, don’t forget to enquire about their fees and past clients. Make certain that you collect every significant detail.

Closing Note

Outsourced accounting and bookkeeping is becoming a norm now. A good outsourcing service partner can be a valuable asset to your business. From basic bookkeeping to complex financial analysis, you may outsource according to your needs.

However, it’s crucial to do enough research and ask the right questions before signing a contract with the services provider. Remember, even a random query can sometimes lead to crucial insights.

If you’re a business, CPA practice or an accounting firm looking for reliable outsourced bookkeeping services, you can get in touch with Centelli. We are a UK-based finance & accounting services firm with active presence in Europe, the United States, and India. We’ll be glad to help you!

 

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