Accounting firms that wish to scale and grow often turn to outsourcing, but they must dedicate enough time and energy to develop a successful strategy.
In part one of this series I detailed the first three steps.
In summary, step one is to work out which tasks in your firm can be outsourced, such as process-driven tasks, value tasks and growth tasks.
Step two is to engage with a reputable partner depending on whether you want to pursue a task-based, project-based outsourcing or offshoring growth model.
And step three is to develop a long-term plan on how to scale.
Here, in detail, are the last three steps.
Step 4: Connect to a community of clients already doing it
One way we help you grow your business is to help you connect to industry experts and to our community of firms who already have the experiences of getting up and running with outsourcing.
Learning among peers has proven to be an invaluable experience for everyone, for us and for our clients. Asking questions, taking advice and not having to learn the lessons the hard way are just some of the key benefits.
Take the opportunity to share with others topics such as how to onboard more effectively, tips on managing culture effectively, getting the most out of training and many more.
Step 5: Review process
Some firms may have a business case prior to engaging in outsourcing. This is well and good, however, making a follow through is equally important. Here are some ways to do it:
• Review if your outsourcing setup fits your business’ purpose
• Review if the goals laid out in the beginning have been achieved. Repeat assessment and monitor over a period of three, six and 12 months.
• Review the satisfaction or fulfilment rating from the stakeholders – the business, the clients and from the staff, etc.
• Review if there are other impacts on the business – good or bad? How to address these?
• Review any issues experienced between you and the outsourcing partner or your staff. Create action plans.
The review process is not only important, but it also ensures that you have open and honest communication systems to capture the key learnings and implement improvements. Some businesses view a poor performance, or lowlight, as a bad thing.
We see these as opportunities to obtain an education, promote honesty and get better every review period.
Step 6: Ensure you are following tried and trusted techniques
Some of the best practices can be as basic as identifying communication technology to be used to specific advanced training courses for your staff. All of which have helped our growing number of clients and staff over the years we have worked with them.
Communication is crucial – we’re fans of daily huddles, with regular and structured meeting rhythms. It sets the tone, the pace, and aligns everybody on the business goals. My take on this is to treat your offshore team as if they are onshore. If you have a meeting, make sure they are included. It not only helps them feel included, but also develops team spirit between local and offshore staff.
Plan to be offshore several times a year – it is important to know the environment, the culture, the person behind the name. You’ll be surprised how far this seemingly ‘little’ investment can go. Many of our clients start with bringing their offshore team over to the local office, then return in reverse. We’ve seen huge learnings either way, and a comment we hear often is “Why didn’t we do it sooner?”
Documentation of your business processes – I cannot emphasise this more. Having team members offshore forces you to interrogate your process and your training methods. You have to be super clear, working through your critical task flows, documenting them, ensuring all are well understood and tweaked as required.
Outsourcing is not a quick fix and I’ve never said it is easy. What I would say is that outsourcing definitely brings benefits that far outweigh the challenges. And with the right outsourcing partner, you can predict the success of your journey.