Funny how some topics become topical. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece ‘Outsourcing – doesn’t have to mean an overseas call centre’. Then last week I noted that a new debate has started on AccountingWeb: “We believe British Accountants can only benefit from growth in outsourcing.”

For those who don’t visit that site let me repeat here much of what I posted by way of an early comment in the debate:

To my mind, ‘outsourcing’ means sourcing suppliers of work that will be performed OUTside the firm and that would otherwise be done by employees INside the firm.. As Steve mentions, outsourcing OVERSEAS is not the only way to outsource.

So let’s move away from the preconceptions that outsourcing is synonymous with off shoring.

In recent weeks alone I have come across firms who outsource (within the UK) the following:

– Bookkeeping for clients (indeed, some weren’t even previously offering the service to clients);
– Payroll services for clients;
– Company secretarial work for clients;
– Tax planning and support (in effect avoiding the cost of having high level tax expertise in house and on tap 5 days a week);
– Provision of credit to clients who want time to pay their fees (why act as a bank by allowing clients extended credit terms – often at no charge?)
– Typing and transcription services;
– Telephone answering;
– Writing newsletters for clients;
– Tax return preparation work in the UK.

To my mind all of the above constitute outsourcing. I suspect however that the focus of this debate is intended to be of the outsourcing of accounts preparation, tax return compliance an similar services to offshore suppliers in places like India, Israel and South Africa.

The tax planning and support operation to which I refer is of course my Tax Advice Network (Register your name and email address on the site to receive our free weekly practical tax update, written especially for accountants in general practice). Beyond that, if any readers of my blog would like further details of the suppliers of any of the above services please let me know I’ll be happy to effect an introduction.