Essential Questions to Ask Your Accounting Provider
79 Questions to ask your accounting provider YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
Finance and accounting outsourcing (FAO) is an excellent tool for any company looking to save and reinvest time and money into Core Competencies.
Still, there tends to be one big question first-time outsourcers bump up against when they first start exploring how to leverage it: “How do we get there from here?” This checklist is a great first step.
Evaluating Your Outsourcing Provider
You’ll begin with a series of questions that are designed to be answered internally. These give you, your key stakeholders and the internal decision-making unit an opportunity to clearly document the scope of your needs and clarify the goals you hope to achieve by leveraging outsourcing and can be revisited or modified as those needs and goals change.
From there, you’ll move through five key areas of evaluation criterion – Company Profile, Capability, Culture Fit, Communication and Quality Control – by asking important questions to ask your potential outsourced accounting provider that are relevant to each category. The final section of questions can be used to create a reference check on the vendors that make their way onto your checklist.
Any organizational undertaking that introduces a significant shift in operations requires an initial investment of time and – there’s no getting around it – an opportunity cost that’s represented by the time spent discovering the right provider for the job. There’s something that feels a little counterintuitive about the up-front time expenditure involved in selecting a partner that exists to ultimately save you time, isn’t there?
It’s also a unique opportunity to evaluate a potential partnership from the very start: a proactive approach on your end coupled with a provider that operates from a place of transparency can make the initial stages of vendor selection much easier and far less time consuming.
How to Choose an Outsourced Accounting Partner – What Questions to Ask Your Outsourced Accounting Provider
Outsourcing partners that are invested in the success of their clients are also the ones that enthusiastically and honestly answer your questions at the outset, giving you the clearest picture available of what a future working relationship with them will look like and whether or not it will be a good fit. The questions in this resource are designed to help bring that picture into sharp focus and create a proactive starting point as you move toward the vendor selection phase.
The categories below, like Culture Fit, are designed to help you determine the vendors that are most likely to bring strong “soft” skills to the relationship. Don’t underestimate these. A set of shared values and cultural compatibilities are just important in business relationships as they are anywhere else. A vendor that shares your company’s values is likelier to provide the emotional buy-in required to ultimately share your goals and help you meet them.
Consider that when Deloitte surveyed BPO clients in 2016 and asked them to identify opportunities for improvement with their service providers, the top two issues leaders identified were “Proactivity” and “Innovation” – two such “soft skills”. If a provider can show a history of technical expertise and a set of shared values with your organization, they should go onto your shortlist of potential vendors.
The final section of questions to ask your potential outsourced accounting provider can be used to create a reference check on the vendors that make their way onto that shortlist. They include fact-finding and corroboratory questions that will allow you to take the temperature of a potential vendor’s client satisfaction record and gain insights into what working with your shortlisted candidates is really like.
Questions for You Before Asking an Accounting Provider:
1 – Which process(es) do you intend to outsource?
2 – What is the size of the team you’ll need?
3 – What kind of professional background do you want your offshore team to have?
4 – What are the educational requirements your team should have?
5 – What platform or ERP are you currently using?
6 – Do you have other technological requirements that need to be met?
7 – Does desktop procedure documentation exist for the process(es) you need to outsource?
8 – What is your organization’s primary short-term goal for outsourcing these processes?
9 – What are your organization’s long-term goals for outsourcing these processes?
10 – Do you have any specific cost-savings objectives?
11 – Do you have any specific efficiency improvement objectives?
Questions to Ask Your Accounting Provider:
Company Profiling Questions
12 – How long have you been operating in the business process outsourcing industry?
13 – How many clients do you have?
14 – Which industries do you work with?
15 – What is the size of your organization?
16 – What countries and regions are your clients located in?
17 – What will the destination country and city for my outsourced processes be?
18 – What is your specific expertise in finance and accounting?
19 – What sets your company apart in the finance and accounting outsourcing industry?
20 – What is your pricing model and payment schedule?
Capability Questions to Ask an Accounting Provider
21 – Have you handled any processes similar to ours?
22 – What accounting processes and roles do you have experience in?
23 – How long does it take to find and hire the talent needed?
24 – Is there a minimum hiring commitment?
25 – Describe your hiring process.
26 – What is your current headcount?
27 – What is your current attrition rate?
28 – What are your platform or ERP capabilities?
29 – What is your cybersecurity protocol?
30 – What are your data security certifications?
31 – Will I need to make changes to my in-house processes if I outsource the processes I’m planning to?
32 – How long does implementation take?
Culture Fit Questions
33 – What are your core company values?
34 – What is the senior leadership team’s background?
35 – Do you participate in any corporate responsibility initiatives?
36 – Has your company ever been publicly recognized for its work?
37 – Has your company ever been publicly recognized for its workplace?
38 – Describe your approach to customer experience.
39 – What is the length of your longest partnership?
40 – Are your service offerings customizable or ready-made?
41 – What sets your company apart in the outsourcing industry?
42 – What sets your company apart in the finance and accounting industry?
43 – What is the onboarding process like for new clients?
44 – How do you solicit and receive client feedback? How often?
45 – Describe your approach to employee experience.
46 – What do you look for in the employees you hire?
47 – What are the benefits you offer your employees?
48 – Do you provide professional development opportunities for your employees?
49 – What is your employee retention strategy?
50 – How do you solicit and receive employee feedback? How often?
51 – Why do employees want to work for you?
52 – Which platforms can I find you on (Comparably, Clutch, Glassdoor, etc.)
Communication Questions to Ask an Outsourcing Accounting Provider
53 – Can I communicate with my offshore team directly?
54 – Will my in-house team be able to collaborate with my offshore team?
55 – Who will be my stateside contact point?
56 – Will I have to make scheduling changes to accommodate teams in a different time zone?
57 – What collaboration and communication tools or software do you use internally? Externally?
58 – How often can I expect to communicate with you?
Quality Control Questions
59 – Do you hold any quality or process improvement certifications?
60 – How else do you ensure accuracy and quality?
61 – When are KPIs and quality metrics determined?
62 – How often are those KPIs assessed?
63 – What happens if my KPIs aren’t met?
64 – What standards are your CPAs certified to?
65 – Are your employees trained to follow GAAP?
66 – What other industry standards do you follow?
67 – How will you train employees in my process specifically?
68 – What happens if I need to implement a change in my process or technology?
69 – Will employees on my team be assigned to other clients?
70 – What happens if an employee on my team leaves?
71 – Will I be able to scale with the team I have?
72 – Do you offer a test run or pilot program?
Questions for Their Clients
73 – What is your business and how do you operate?
74 – What solution did the provider put together for you initially?
75 – Has your outsourcing solution grown or changed since then?
76 – How has the provider met your expectations?
77 – Has the provider exceeded your expectations?
78 – How did the solution benefit your organization overall?
79 – Would you recommend this company as an outsourcing provider?
By making sure you have an answer to these questions to ask your potential outsourced accounting provider will set you up for success from the start.
For over three decades, we’ve delivered custom, cost-effective solutions that improve the efficiency of teams of all sizes across the globe. Our highly-skilled people power everything from accounts payable and general accounting to payroll and tax reporting – and beyond. This rich, 35+ year history is the foundation we’ve built our expertise on. Our white-glove service and commitment to delivering world-class customer experience has allowed us to go from vendor to partner with the clients we have the privilege of serving.
By contacting Personiv, you’ll be taking the first step to creating an outsourced finance and accounting solution that doesn’t just work for you – you’ll be creating one that works with you as a seamless, virtual addition to your in-house team, starting with just a single employee and growing when you need it to.
With personiv performing your business processes, you can enjoy immediate results prepared on-demand at a price point that traditional outsourcing cannot match.