Why does the thought of outsourcing your accounting cause you heartburn? 

Likely because it promises to reduce or eliminate staff pay for your company. 

For all the talk about how cold and heartless business people are, you go to sleep worried about the revenue, products and technology because you know those are absolutely essential to keep the business profitable.  Profitability means you don’t have to let staff go. 

Unlike people, technology doesn’t have an emotional bank account

If you’re fortunate enough to have great administrative people who have managed your business, you know they have been making deposits in the emotional bank account by their positive attitude, commitment, long hours, overtime and general concern for your business.  You probably know their spouse and children and have been invited to functions outside the office with them.  

There’s a long list of reasons why you don’t want to rock this boat.

When a consultant demos a software that will change a system impacting their lives, you squirm.

What are you going to do with this person if you no longer need them to spend hours each week on tedious, automatable tasks?

First of all, step back and remember a basic truth: 

Employees work for the business; the business does not work for the employees.

As basic a concept as this, it is easy to forget.  We tend to think of ourselves in silos after time, forgetting the bigger picture of the business.  We approach life concerned primarily with ourselves to the detriment of the whole. When something like outsourcing or technological improvements like machine learning or artificial intelligence come along, we freak out.  

Most of us are passive-aggressive Luddites, choosing to ignore the efficiency elephant in the room rather than try to destroy it.  Only when the decision to upgrade is so obvious does the average business accept reality and make the change.  

That is why they’re average.

The best businesses are constantly looking for an edge in marketing, production and, yes, even accounting.  An edge that will make them stand out and be noticed, allowing them to do what they do best and dramatically improve their efficiency.

When making adjustments that impact staff, here are several ideas to keep in mind.

People have the ability to learn new skills

The people who have spent years caring for your company already have the attitude of your ideal employee.  They take care of your customers and systems to keep the business moving along. Just as they have been making emotional bank deposits through the years, hopefully, you’ve been doing the same.  Asking them to make a change for the better of the business will require a withdraw of some of those deposits.  

Depending on their skills they can realign with the needs of a modern business.  

Hard-to-find skills can be developed for your business.  Social media management, customer relationship management, content marketing manager, project manager and software workflow integrator are completely new roles within the past decade or so.  Since few schools have even taught these skills, your employee is not far behind. They just need the desire to make a shift to get up to speed on these skills.

Investing in accounting is a high ROI investment

Accounting has fundamentally changed.  The proliferation of cloud accounting has reached a critical mass and the trend is accelerating to mass adoption.  The changes in accounting are following the changes in internal IT support.

A decade ago, every company was expected to have an IT person to support the servers, block security risks and update software. Instead of hiring individuals, the industry has shifted to hiring managed service companies that provide all of these options.

Similar to managed IT services, a new wave of accounting software is allowing companies to purchase accounting services from companies instead of hiring individuals.  

You can now outsource your accounting to a different company.  

Scalability of services, headcount reduction and not managing employees (with the dreaded HR laws) make outsourcing an attractive option.  Even if the job is not outsourced, retooling the staff to learn the new tech will produce a high return on investment. This is exactly what you need before the economy is soft.

The next recession will force you to make changes anyway

Sure, the unemployment rate is low.  The markets have rallied so long that an entire generation doesn’t remember the great recession.  But it won’t be that way for long.  

There will come a day when you have to make hard decisions about whom to let go when the revenue dips.  Rather than wait for a recession, make the hard decision now so an affected employee has a chance to find a job in a stronger economy.  

When the hushed panic and fear start to spread through the office and the news media start to beat their “recession drums”, you will wish you would have invested earlier to make your company leaner.  A leaner company will make it through a recession with fewer scrapes.  

Times, they are a-changin’

The privilege of living through an information revolution is also a curse.  The rate of change in software requires near-constant upgrading. Not to be left out, the accounting industry is experiencing a seismic shift also.  

If you have not changed your accounting function in more than five years, spend some time researching the efficiency of cloud accounting.  If you are currently using QuickBooks Desktop, learn about Intuit’s move to cloud accounting.  The landscape is changing weekly and attentive business people are reaping the rewards of the latest technology. 

Partial or complete outsourcing of your accounting may allow your business to focus on its core offerings without the stress of learning and managing new software.  And who knows, it could be the best investment you make this year.

When was the last time you made a business decision that saved you time and headaches?