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Testing a New Bookkeeper

How to Select an Outsourced Bookkeeper

Now that you’ve decided to outsource your bookkeeping, how do you find the right firm to handle this important business function? The financial reports this firm prepares for you will drive your most critical business decisions. Therefore, you want a company that is not only organized and good with numbers but also one you trust with your business data and information.

When defining the responsibilities of the bookkeeping firm, and consequently the size of your budget, understand that service providers offer more than individual contractors. You need to identify your priorities. For instance, working with a firm staffed by CPAs reduces the chance of mistakes at tax time. Another benefit to using a bookkeeper affiliated with a full-service firm is that financial statements can be analyzed for errors or gaps. The best perk is that you will be starting out with a firm that evolves with your business as needs change. The bottom line is that the more you outsource, the more you have time to focus on your business!

Determine Needs and Requirements

Before you can hire any bookkeeping firm, take the time to write a job description defining exactly what you want the firm to do. This exercise will help you distill your wants and needs for the relationship, as well as spell out any credentials needed to fulfill those duties. Templated bookkeeper job descriptions can help you make quick work of creating your scope of work document.

Next, you’ll need to estimate the bookkeeping firm’s projected workload. For example, if you are a solopreneur with a handful of clients and vendors, you might ask for part-time assistance. However, if your business has a large volume of clients who need to be billed or a significant number of vendors to be paid each month, you could justify full-time assistance from your bookkeeping partner.

Interview Service Providers

Now that you have a job description and projected workload scoped, identify candidate companies you want to meet.

Work your professional network to find potential candidate companies. If you already have an accountant or CPA, most can assist with recommendations or be able to refer you in-house if they work at a larger firm. Many of these financial professionals maintain contact with bookkeepers so that they can make a referral when a business owner client asks.

If you are not a business owner with a strong financial grounding, interviewing candidate companies can be challenging and downright intimidating. If you need help coming up with questions for bookkeeping company representatives, ask the other business owners you know what they did or use a list of standard queries to get started.

From a credential standpoint, even though the recommended person is not officially on your staff, he or she will be handling your company’s most sensitive information. Most firms employ fully credentialed staff. However, if you’re unsure, ask!

Ensure Compatibility

Not only should a firm be in sync with your business goals, the company you are considering must also have familiarity with your specific financial software. For instance, ask if their staff have used the exact financial package you have in the way you use it. For example, there are operational differences between the six QuickBooks versions currently in use. Bookkeeping firms will be able to tell you which version or versions they have used and if their staff is proficient in those versions. Additionally, professionals who have been certified by Intuit as QuickBooks ProAdvisor may have the breadth of experience and training you feel most comfortable with to oversee your bookkeeping.

The entire process may seem overwhelming so remember, the decision to outsource your bookkeeping was based on the needs of your business. Trust yourself to make the right choice.

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