We understand that it is difficult to make a decision to outsource. There are many reasons that firms may choose to outsource, but there are usually more reasons not to.

The key reasons accountancy firms outsource are:

  1. Lack of good local staff to carry out work.
  2. Reducing overall cost of delivering services.
  3. Expanding the range of services available to clients e.g. providing a bookkeeping service that may not be cost-effective using
    local personnel.
  4. Obtaining access to best practice.
  5. Moving the firm to a systems-based delivery method.

Key considerations when reviewing your outsourcing provider professional

Consider the professional background of the key personnel in the outsourcing organisation.

Are they professionally qualified accountants?

Is the outsourcing provider subject to external regulation by a professional organisation?

AdvanceTrack® is an ICAEW Member firm run and owned by UK Chartered Accountants.

Quality

Before outsourcing to an external provider, quality is always a major concern, particularly if a firm has either never tried outsourcing before or had a bad experience before.

As a business run by UK Chartered Accountants, Quality has always been at the core of the offering from AdvanceTrack®. The Quality systems employed within AdvanceTrack® manage a more consistent level of quality. These are then subject to external audit by BSI. AdvanceTrack® upgraded to the latest version of the ISO9001:2015 Quality standard in January 2016, within a few months of its release.

Security

Whilst Quality is clearly a concern, the one area that causes greatest anxiety to any professional firm is how the data is safeguarded in the new era of organised cybercrime.

There are a lot of risks of handing confidential data. Responsibility under the Data Protection Act always remains with the client rm. It is therefore extremely important that any outsourcing provider deploys strong protocols in managing confidential information.

We discuss systems later on, but these are critical for external independent review. Having an internationally recognised International Security Standard provides firms with greater confidence that there are strong protocols in place that reduce the possibility of data loss. The certification provides impartial evidence that AdvanceTrack® is following and exceeding industry best practices as part of a corporate governance program and has implemented a robust management framework regarding information security and quality.

AdvanceTrack® are certified to the latest Information Security Standard ISO27001:2013. They are the only major UK Accountancy Outsourcer holding the two latest International Quality and Security Standards.

Systems

We help analyse the process to migrate work, simplifying the process to keep your senior management input to a minimum. Supported by our UK office with ICAEW Chartered Accountants as part of your client management team, we reduce the costs of delivering a scalable outsourcing solution.

Our processes put qualified accountants at the centre of process migration, allied using robust secure technology providing a fully scalable solution to firms of all sizes.

Systems have always been centre stage at AdvanceTrack®, with such systems delivering job tracking as far back as 2006. AdvanceTrack® have constantly enhanced systems throughout. In 2017, AdvanceTrack® introduced enhanced systems fit for 2017 and beyond by rebuilding their platform.

These enhanced systems deliver seamless management of cloud bookkeeping and the full range of accounting and tax compliance services managed from any internet enabled device.

If you want to work with a forward thinking professional outsourcer who leads change, choose AdvanceTrack®.

 

I have had the good fortune to work for some great professional firms and people in my professional career.

In building the AdvanceTrack® business, I have taken the good things that I have learnt from these firms (and learnt from some that are not so good!). My early professional career, especially my training firm showed me the need to document the work performed, so that, whatever happened afterwards, there was an audit trail showing any person how we arrived at the numbers.

The biggest lesson that I learnt, especially in my career with two of the Big Four firms that I worked with, was the need to systemise the business. I used to recall how often, the partners in such firms were rarely at the “coalface”, yet the delivery to clients happened apace with the many good people in the rms. The key thing, however was that, in many ways, it didn’t matter which individual it was. It mattered more that the people in the organisation knew what they were required to do.

There were many times when colleagues left the firm and the team left behind thought it would be difficult to replace them. The team however, continued the good work, so it was very rare that clients moved firms following a key departure. This was solely down to a very robust process throughout the organisation.

So how do firms achieve this?

Whilst there are many things we could discuss, I will discuss 3 key elements:

Induction and Training

It cannot be stressed how important this is in your own office or a 3rd party provider like AdvanceTrack® to ensuring that the final outputs are more consistent. We have all experienced in various arenas, how improved training delivers better results. Our profession is no different, so it is extremely important.

Strong Management Protocol

If you consider the most successful business models around the world, whether in professional services, such as the Big Four in Accountancy, the Magic Circle in Law, or even McDonalds, the key to them all is their consistency of process, wherever they are in the world.

AdvanceTrack® for example, whilst not reaching the size of the above businesses really see consistency of process as being a key differentiator, allied with technology. Using robust processes that are subject to external review by BSI, such as achieving the ISO9001:2015 for Quality and ISO27001:2013 for Information Security allows AdvanceTrack® to manage work in a clear consistent manner.

Technology

All of the businesses above have used technology to drive efficiency and consistency through their businesses across the world. Technology is a great enabler and cloud technology is making it easier for businesses in many sectors to operate in the same way as global businesses, such as Big Four accountancy firms or Fast Food Chains. Technology is also a challenge to the traditional role of the accountant.

Accountancy firms have traditionally finished the bookkeeping when preparing the year end accounts. By clients using technology better, the value clients will place on putting together that final set of accounts is likely to be that much lower. As a result, you can see how more technologically agile firms (such as the Big Four) have moved up the advisory chain for many years. That capability moved into the high street, brings greater challenges to the high street accountancy rm. The key going forwards for accountancy firms will be to embrace the technology and to offer a more inclusive service.

What does that mean in practice?

  1. Firms need to offer a cloud based solution to clients.
  2. Offer a full bookkeeping service.
  3. Offering the full bookkeeping service enables firms to sell the additional consulting services that regular insight from the bookkeeping provides.
  4. Having access to this data will place the accountant into that trusted advisor space, yet also more able to fulfil the Making Tax Digital obligations that will come.

How can AdvanceTrack® help Accountancy firms deliver the service to clients:

  1. AdvanceTrack® are a technologically advanced outsourcing business, so they can help firms use their systems to deliver an efficient cost-effective bookkeeping service. AdvanceTrack® refer to this as their #seamlessbookkeeping service.
  2. This same technology will enable firms to keep their clients compliant with the Making Tax Digital regime when it is brought in.
  3. As a result of using AdvanceTrack® services, firms will be more streamlined in the way that they capture and process financial information.
  4. All of these are delivered at lower cost using technology and offshore delivery centres.

If your firm wants to lead the way in which it delivers a cost-effective pro-active service to clients, then it needs to review what services it offers and how it delivers them. If you see growth opportunities going forwards and are questioning how to meet them, the AdvanceTrack® team would love to talk to you.