Challenges in Sourcing: GKM
Maximizing process efficiency, improving workflows, embracing cloud accounting, outsourcing to reliable offshore bookkeeping services providers, accounting & tax outsourcing tips for small & medium accounting firms, reduced or no compliance costs, strategies for Accountants, CPAs, and EAs to successfully set up their offshore accounting teams, the multiple challenges in Sourcing, and how GKM helps accountants overcome them, data security concerns, questions to ask outsourced bookkeeping providers, Bookkeeping Software used, Intuit QuickBooks, Thomson Reuters Accounting CS, Xero, Intuit EasyAcct, Sage, MYOB, Peach Tree, data security measures for remote accounting services
How to maximize your accounting firm’s efficiency with offshore accounting teams?
Digital technology is transforming how businesses function, collaborate, compete, and engage with their customers. Technology brings opportunities for growth. However, adopting new technology also creates more challenges to provide data security. With the increased usage of the internet comes challenges such as cyber-attacks, security breaches, identity theft, and fraud. These have far-reaching consequences for your business and leads to loss of reputation, clientele, and trust.
Even before the advent of COVID-19, accounting firms had turned to remote accounting/cloud accounting and outsourced bookkeeping to empower their staff to carry out tasks from virtually anywhere. The advent of the pandemic has hastened the technology adaptation to maintain a competitive edge and provide flexibility to work successfully from home. Employee expectations are shifting, and firms are discovering the benefits of working outside the office environment. We can expect the numbers to increase greatly, as the world adapts to the new way of going about conducting business remotely.
Need for a robust virtual setup
It is most essential to establish a solid and secure virtual infrastructure enabling your accounting team to work comfortably from home. In addition, coming up with relevant internal protocols and security measures will protect your client data and ensure remote productivity.
With most employees working from home owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, data security risks are to be studied and mitigated. A rounded approach to data security is a must, encompassing people, processes, and technology.
Most organizations implement data security measures only when they encounter a data breach. Instead of being reactive to disasters, businesses should act proactively to prevent any breaches.
Data security for accounting teams working remotely is all the more crucial. Accounting firms utilizing, or looking to scale up using the global workforce through outsourcing are keen to ensure their clients’ data is absolutely secure.
Cloud Accounting is the norm
The traditional on-premise software brings with it hardware costs, software licensing expenses, annual maintenance contracts, storage costs, etc. However, scaling up to cloud-based technology involves a nominal fee for subscription-based upon the features chosen. Reduced administration and system maintenance costs with the cloud vendor handling everything for you is a big plus.
Safety and reliability
Security is critical for accountants owing to the sensitive confidential data they deal with. Cloud technology brings with it added layers of data security and reliability. The data is hosted in high-security data centers with complete backup, and stored in different locations the world over to avoid any security breaches. Leading offshore accounting & tax preparation service providers to ensure they function from behind a secure firewall and adopt robust security and multi-layer authentication at their workplaces.
Embracing the cloud will help elevate the client experience to new levels of convenience. This will open up new avenues, and differentiate your firm as a one-stop-shop for all your clients’ accounting needs.
How outsourcing your accounting services can be empowering
As businesses react to the new challenges in an unpredictable marketplace, a cost-effective and reliable option would be to outsource accounting functions. Outsourcing bookkeeping & accounting functions provide organizations with increased scalability, improved financial efficiency, and agility to take advantage of the evolving demand without procrastinating on hiring, training, and retention hassles. Businesses that have engaged with trusted outsourced bookkeeping and tax return preparation service providers are a testament to the multipronged benefits on offer.
Reduced compliance costs
The cost of hiring an offshore accounting team is significantly lesser than hiring people in-house, training & setup of infrastructure, caring for their medical & health benefits, etc. You can count on having quality work completed at a fraction of the time and money it is costing you locally. The money and time saved thus can be utilized to provide greater value-added services, and concentrating on your niche offerings.
To make sure that your firm is well equipped to successfully navigate through the changing business landscape, turn to a trusted outsourcing service provider like GKM. GKM offers a wide range of options to ensure efficiency and productivity in your bookkeeping & tax return preparation services are maintained with top-of-the-class security measures in place.
Working with a trustworthy and efficient offshore accounting & tax return preparation provider like GKM will help you realize how much time you can save to focus on setting up more profitable services in your accounting firm. Engaging firms offshore, and moving to the cloud can help you find the time and leverage your core accounting & tax expertise better.
While it is a challenge to manage teams, coordinating teams from different parts of the world is a bigger challenge. It is important to communicate clearly from the beginning, and ensure process flows are well mapped, and clear cut deliverables are established.
In this section, we look at strategies that will help realize the full potential of your offshore team and define your firm’s success.
Set well-defined parameters:
One of the key benefits of outsourcing is the completion of projects on time with minimal supervision. If that is not the case, please check to see if non-core activities are taking up too much of your team’s time. They may be managing emails, answering calls, reporting et al. Ensure that your offshore team has no such roadblocks, and is able to spend time productively on your projects.
Choose the right partner:
While outsourcing works out cheaper than hiring in-house talent, picking a vendor solely on the cost factor can derail your progress. Much too often, companies are swayed by cost benefits rather than focusing on important factors like experience, reputation, and infrastructure.
View the offshore partner as an integral part of your team – sizing them up based on the value they can bring rather than focusing on minimizing cost. Evaluate their portfolio, look at online references, interview their team, and study their processes before arriving at a final decision.
Ensure Flexible Lines of Communication:
An effective line of communication is key to success. Complete communication on the workflow of your firm without any chances for misinterpretation is a must. Be transparent while communicating with your offshore teams. Follow a fixed communication module, hiring dedicated resources to oversee progress.
Leverage innovative workflow software to engage with your outsourced service providers. Take into account the time zone difference while communicating with outsourced teams. Ensure your communication with the team is open and at regular intervals. This will make the team comfortable with your style of operating, and more open to asking questions, and providing feedback.
Assess Technology & Tools:
Basic infrastructure for a bookkeeping setup consists of software and hardware availability, operating skills, and experience of the staff. Make sure to confirm with referrals that the offshore team takes all necessary security precautions, is technologically sound, and covered against data piracy with high-end information security and privacy policies. Retention and process continuity are most crucial for an offshore team – make sure your team is adequately staffed, and prepared for any resource crunch/contingency.
Working with offshore teams is now a norm for many accountants and CPAs. The key is to devise effective means of communication and query handling. Proper implementation and utilization of the offshore accounting model will take your firm closer to increasing capacity and growing your firm.
The Challenges in Sourcing, and how GKM helps accountants overcome them:
GKM’s USP is twofold: Help clients cut costs and improve bottom lines. Lighten their low-value workload so that they can put more efforts into high value-added work. This would translate into growth and stability in the long run both for GKM and for our clients. We believe in building long-lasting relationships. True to the Indian ethos, business is not transactional to GKM; it is all about building a successful relationship with the client and sustaining it by meeting client needs and exceeding their expectations.
Data Security challenges when sourcing your bookkeeping work:
Accountants are naturally apprehensive about security and quality when they first decide to source. A bookkeeper sitting thousands of miles away in a foreign land is going to handle the work and that must not be a comforting thought at first. Data is also being accessed virtually by these bookkeepers.
The first challenge, therefore, is to make processes visible and transparent to the CPAs / Accountants when they come on board. We do this by initiating contact between the CPA / Accountant and the person managing his account. This facilitates feedback and also puts the accountant at ease with our processes. Phone numbers are also provided so that the accountant may contact us at any time. GKM trains its bookkeepers with utmost care. Our bookkeepers have the requisite knowledge of US processes and laws and are constantly updated on the same through training sessions. We also do pilot projects on request.
Data security is of paramount importance to us and therefore we ensure stringent security policies at our offshore work facility. Mobile phones and media such as CD Drives, Floppy drives, etc., are not allowed in the work facility. Access to the work facility is controlled by individual access cards and the facility is physically manned at all times. We hire our bookkeepers after a thorough background check and they are bound by legally enforceable contracts.
Communication is another challenge. Since the bookkeeper is not in sight one can no longer holler across the hall if one has a question. Also, the time difference comes into play to complicate things further. Our US office acts as the first responder and we ensure that we are always open and available to our clients. GKM has specific communication policies both on E-Mail as well as Phone. At the very outset phone numbers (US numbers/toll-free) are provided to the clients so that they may contact us at any time. Any E-Mail received by us is responded to immediately.
How GKM goes about orienting its employees towards data security on outsourced accounting:
The first requirement is to educate the staff with adequate knowledge to protect your firm’s information. They must be conversant with the dangers and efficient management of phishing, password security, data breaches, malware, and secure documents. One of the first training modules for GKM’s team members is a briefing session sensitizing them on physical and digital data security measures.
Every organization must focus on drafting and implementing strict IT security policies with administrative auditing, reporting, and monitoring facilities. This guarantees data security at every level of functioning.
Data Security measures – both on-site and when working from home:
Employ stringent physical security measures to maintain confidentiality. The organization must ensure the entire screening of visitors and employees. Permission to use camera phones or any other digital recording media inside the premises should be restricted. Installation of CCTV cameras will help to monitor activities carrying out by individuals in the workplace. Setting up automatic backups will reduce the risk of losing data.
At GKM, the staff is restricted to bring any device into the processing facility. All their mobile phones or any other portable storage devices need to be secured in their individual lockers. A paperless office, coupled with continuous network and keystroke monitoring, entry with secure access cards, a well-implemented intrusion detection system are a few of the many measures implemented and diligently followed.
In case a team member is working from home after taking permission from the client, the equipment used is sanitized, and delivered to the team member from the office. This contains security applications and specific work-from-home policies which entitle accessing the secure encrypted company VPN and only then connecting to client networks.
Other general security measures include using genuine software on all the business workstations. GKM stays away from cracked software, which can lead to malicious software getting into devices. GKM uses fully licensed and approved software on its network to ensure total compliance. A top-of-the-class intrusion detection system, a highly secure firewall, multiple security layers for RDP access, and optimal bandwidth management are some of the measures taken at GKM to maintain highly efficient user productivity. GKM also centrally manages system access to employees with redundant data backup, privacy, and compliance measures.
GKM also works closely with its third-party vendors to ensure all security certifications, encryption measures, and data management policies are in place.
It is imperative for a strong organization to have able leaders, who keep a close watch on cyber-security programs and stay updated on the latest technology with respect to data security and privacy. In case of unforeseen disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic, accidents, or any potential disasters, it is essential to ensure the right systems and people are in place to keep the business going. A thorough understanding of best accounting and security practices and a 360-degree perspective help GKM enable continuous growth for accounting firms.
We understand that no two practices are alike. While the client base might be uniform, each CPA/Accountant has his or her own unique way of doing things and achieving goals. While one might want a journal entry to be referenced just so, another might want it done differently. We at GKM adapt to these expectations through training and documentation. The “one size fits all” rule cannot be applied to this business – accounting principles may be the same world over but the way things are done differ and we attribute our success to our ability to adapt to this requirement.