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3 crucial steps to take before choosing your outsourced accounting partner

25 Jan 2019  |  
Tags: Outsourcing accounting
3 crucial steps to take before choosing your outsourced accounting partner

So you think you are ready to join the craze and partner with an accounts outsourcing company. But do they tick all the boxes? Are you really ready? Has a GDPR agreement been signed? Are the security guidelines and policies in place? Have the communication channels been defined?

Even if you have ticked every box on this checklist, you may still have missed a critical detail that will cause problems down the road. Lucky for you QXAS is here to help.

We met with our Business Development Manager, Parth Prajapati, and with his advice prepared the following checklist of steps you should take before choosing your accounting outsourcing firm in India.

This is not meant to be a complete list, so please speak to Parth on 0845 838 2452 before choosing your outsourcing partner.

  1. 1. Establish data security guidelines

If you are scanning and uploading data on the outsourcer’s FTE server, it will require client data to be sent outside of your accounting practice. And any time this occurs the risk of misconduct increases. So how do you make sure that the data you’re sending to your outsourcing partner will be kept secure?

An accountancy outsourcing service provider will inform you about the measures they take to maintain data security. In fact, a confident outsourcing supplier will tell you about all the steps they take to ensure data security is maintained. And with GDPR coming into force on 26 May 2018, it important to check the following:

2. GDPR data processing agreement:

One of the first things you want to confirm is if your outsourcing supplier is GDPR certified, and not just claiming to be GDPR compliant. They would preferably be certified via a framework such as BS 10012:2017 - it’s the only available industry code of conduct that currently aligns with GDPR requirements.

The certification is awarded by the British Standards Institution (BSI) after an independent assessment and evaluation of the outsourcer’s Personal Information Management Framework (PIMS). BSI audits the way the outsourcing company collects, stores, processes, retains or disposes of personal records related to individuals.

“It’s really important that an outsourcing company locks down data processing agreements with you before the outsourcing process starts,” says Parth. “The agreement is essential not only to data security but also to client confidence. When your clients hear you are using an outsourcing partner, they may worry their information will be compromised. Having a data agreement in place with your outsourcer will help you assure your clients that their data is safe with the outsourcer, in the hands of their employees and everywhere in-between.”

3. ISO 27001 security assurance

According to BSI ISO, an outsourcer should be compliant with ISO 27001 as this ensures they work to very stringent IT and security processes, keeping your confidential data protected and secure in the outsourcer’s offshore delivery centers. 

“I think it is very important that the outsourcing company you choose demonstrate they are meeting a certain standard for security. ISO 27001 is a good benchmark, as it involves audits by a third-party. It’s probably a good idea to check if your outsourcer has invested in something like ISO 27001,” says Parth.

Other security protocols:

Before committing or signing anything find out what measures your outsourcing provider takes to maintain security, beyond GDPR compliance. In addition to your data being protected in a highly restricted facility it should also be monitored using secure methods. A good outsourcing provider should provide the following measures:

  • Secure client login
  • 256-bit SSL encryption
  • Anti-virus/ Spam /Spyware manager
  • 24/7 surveillance systems
  • Daily server backup
  • 24x7 by trained security guards
  • Biometric systems
  • Disabled USB ports
  • Clear desk policies
  • Limited internet access unless there’s a process requirement
  • Continuously monitored web-access
  • Cyber Essentials certified

Your accounts outsourcing firm in India will, often times, remotely log in to your systems to complete client accounting work. But if you choose to work on their FTP server, talk to their IT team to ensure proper encryption and business continuity policies are in place and they are ready to take on the most sophisticated cyber-attacks.

  1. Ensure they have the flexible communication infrastructure in place.

Having the outsourcers’ accountants operate as an extension of your practice doesn’t work unless they have the right infrastructure.  If they are going to complete the accounting or bookkeeping work via the cloud, they will need to join through secure virtual technology like VPN, RDP, Citrix, or GoToMyPC but do they have the necessary tech?

Communication via a 2x2 MB IPLC (international private leased circuit) line is essential, especially if your offshore service provider is located in countries like India or the Philippines. Check if your outsourcing partner has invested in such technology. Communication via IPLC lines creates a next door telephony experience, plus your calls to the provider are charged at local UK rates. Outsourcing companies generally have a Telco switch in the UK which enables you to call them at local rates.

Video chat tools like Zoom are a must-haves, as are team chat tools like Slack, Google Hangouts and Skype.

“The most important first step in choosing an outsourcing partner is to set the communication expectations and to have the right infrastructure in place,” says Parth. “Our clients expect responses within an hour, although it’s much sooner generally, and all of the team leaders have regulars Zoom or Skype video meetings with them.

While having the right communications infrastructure is essential, it is equally important to know what hardware systems they use. The questions below are a good start to get started and make sure you’re choosing the right provider.

  • Are their offices adequate for your resourcing requirements? How big are their offices? Are they spread across multiple locations to ensure business continuity in case of a disaster? These things don’t happen often, but when they do you’d wish your outsourcing partner had the technical capability to switch processing to a different location. 
  • What type of hardware systems are in place to handle the workload? Do they have ample telecommunications equipment? Do they provide dual monitors to their staff to increase productivity? These things come as a standard but it’s advisable to check.

  1. Make an overseas trip to their offices in India 

Your accounting outsourcing firm in India should work as an extension of your accountancy practice. You should feel comfortable with your team, but how is it possible if they are located in India?

“Nothing substitutes a face-to-face meeting to build relationships. Many of our clients make occasional trips to our offices in India. It allows them to observe their team in India and the work atmosphere. They like customising training to the needs of their India staff, and also working through jobs on the desk next to them. After work, we generally take them to a local restaurant, a shopping mall or visit the sights of the city. Some of our clients go a step further by organising ‘team building’ events or trips. India has some awesome resorts, which are not very expensive,” concludes Parth.

Get in touch

There you have it. These three crucial steps will help you evaluate the right outsourcing company for your outsourcing needs. Once you know the ideal abilities to look for, you’ll feel much more confident in your choice of partner. The key is having the right people, processes and infrastructure in place so that you feel comfortable about outsourcing your accounting work to an overseas partner.

At QXAS we’ve combined our customised and flexible approach, outstanding service delivery, specialist knowledge and experience to become a trusted service provider for our clients. Get in touch with us today for a no-obligation consultation or utilise a free trial to see if outsourcing can benefit your accounting practice.