When you need additional help with client work in your office, do you look beyond the idea of simply recruiting a new member of staff?

Many of the smaller accountants I speak with are struggling to do everything themselves. And those who have regular help, want more but are reluctant to take on more staff.

There are plenty of sole practitioners and smaller partnerships around who are hesitant about taking on even one employee, committing to paying an annual salary, starting to run their own payroll and becoming subject to employment laws.

These were among the reasons I decided never to employ anyone myself after I went freelance in 2006. Over the years I have outsourced my support needs quite successfully. It’s easier for me though as I’m not running an accountancy practice.

When I talk with accountants who need (more) help and support I encourage them to start by thinking about what they are doing themselves that someone else could do for them – if they could find someone sufficiently reliable.

Then, you need to consider all of your options.  These go way beyond recruiting staff into full, or even part-time, employment roles. How about independent contractors, bookkeepers and tax specialists?

Once you accept, as many do, that not everything has to be done by staff, you may become open to the idea of ‘outsourcing’. This simply means sourcing suppliers of work that will be performed OUTside the firm rather than by employees INside the firm.

Here’s the full list of options when you need more help and support with your client work:

  • Recruit a full time employee, a part-time employee or an apprentice
  • Engage an independent contractor on a regular basis
  • Engage an independent contractor on an hourly/daily basis
  • Engage a reputable outsourcing company 
  • Source a specific individual with specialist skills to complete a specific project

Independent contractors could be based elsewhere in the UK (or overseas) or could visit your office as and when required. Reputable outsourcing companies can be based in the UK or overseas. Some of the latter have UK based staff. Others have nothing beyond a sales operation here.

The ‘outsourcing company’ route is often identified as one that enables you to arrange for the necessary client work to be performed at a fraction of the cost of any of the other options. However this is only one of the factors to consider.

Which route you choose to go will depend, at least in part, on the work that needs doing, how much you are willing to invest in time and money, and how long you want the arrangement to last. And how professional you require the support to be.

If I was in practice I like to think I would have explored the reputable outsourcing company route. My reasoning is quite simple. Chances are I would want regular support and my needs would increase over time. I’d be able to service more clients and make more profits. I wouldn’t be reliant on one person or risking them being available when client work needs to be done. Turn around times should be better – especially as work is often done in another time zone.

And, perhaps, best of all, once you work with a good company, they are the ones who source additional resources as you generate more business to outsource to them. So, once you’ve got a good thing going, you are able to plan for the future with more confidence.

You will notice that I specified using a ‘reputable’ outsourcing company rather than just anyone offering such services. This is principally because I have heard too many stories of woe from accountants. Inevitably what becomes apparent is that they didn’t do enough due diligence before starting to outsource.  They are then put off from trying again with another supplier.  That’s as logical as saying you’ll never recruit another employee if you had problems with your first staff member. Better to examine what went wrong and then to go about things differently the next time.

I’ve spoken with and heard about many outsourcing companies over the years. Most recently I have been impressed by what I have seen and heard about Global Infosys. They have a small team based in NW London with a huge back office in India. Further details here >>> 

If you’d like to talk about how you might decide which route to go to get help with client work in your office, feel free to book a call and let’s have a chat, without any obligation. Chatting it through may help you to reach a decision. You can book a time that suits us both here >>>

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