Offshoring is not a trivial task. This is an option which requires a thorough study and careful consideration. If successful, it can also be a long-term or permanent solution to the manpower problem. Ultimately, the company has to see that there should be advantages to offshoring than just the financial benefits.
Accounting tasks are integral to the function of the company, and it is not an easy decision to have an overseas staff doing it. There is a long-term shortage for accounting personnel. This in turn has resulted in longer recruitment times.
When a company advertises for an accounting job, it takes several months before a suitable local candidate is found. The alternative is to hire an immigrant who will work under the Skilled Occupations List program. This too will take some time due to the recruitment process followed by the immigration procedures. The faster alternative is to send the job to an offshore staff. First time offshoring includes some jitters and a little anxiety to see if this works. The whole process of offshoring accounting tasks should be undertaken with clear objectives and a plan.
What are the Objectives
The success of offshoring accounting functions relies on the execution of a plan. The plan starts from the needs and requirements of the company. The company should understand the objectives and benefits behind offshoring. These objectives should also include the risks involved and the possible obstacles to offshoring.
The most obvious benefit of offshoring is the lower cost. However, this is not the biggest benefit to sending the job to another country. Offshoring gives the company the ability to recruit faster and with a larger talent pool. In most cases, the recruit will have prior experience and will be more easily trained because of this. If there is a need for additional personnel, it is possible to have the new staff ready in a shorter amount of time. These should be included as part of the objectives and performance targets.
Define What Needs to be Done
Consider offshoring as a project, and manage accordingly. With project management constructs, there will be resources, cost, and time planning. It may not be necessary to have Gantt chart but it is necessary to understand dependencies. At the same time, there should be a communications plan, which would involve the company, the offshoring outfit and the remote staff. The plan should also include escalation and delegation duties.
As a project, there will be milestones and deadlines during the implementation. This keeps the project moving. There are checklists to ensure that the goals are being met.
It is important that the company plans for important tasks required for offshoring staff including talent search, training, hardware checks, and any security audit that the company deems necessary. Treating the implementation of offshore staff as a project helps to meet goals, budget and objectives. It also ensures that the stakeholders are in the loop and know the status of the project at every point in time.
Offshoring as a project can end once the remote staff is working on a consistent basis, meeting the company’s expectations. One of the advantages of offshoring is the lower cost of acquiring and maintaining a staff and operating an office.
This does not mean that just because there is going to be savings in the operations, that there is no more need for a budget and cost monitoring.
On the contrary, it is even more important that a budget is created, and that tight controls are kept to operate within it. Budgeting and monitoring is necessary for several reasons. Creating a budget ensures that the costs are reasonable. Maintaining operations within the budget ensures management that offshoring is feasible. Keeping costs down is one of the targets, and the reason for the budget. It is also included in measuring the performance.
Realizing savings through offshore operations also opens the possibility for expansion if the need for additional staff arises.
One difference between offshoring and regular outsourcing is staff ownership.
The remote staff is treated as a member of the client company and not as an employee of the offshoring outfit. The remote staff’s duties are only with the client company.
The employee is not a resource shared with other companies. It is important that the remote staff feels that the staff is a member of the client company. To foster this, the staff has to be involved with the offshore implementation. This makes the staff invested in the client company.
Additionally, the staff identifies with the client company and does not develop an “us versus them” mentality. The staff should be treated as regular members of the company.
Considering the sensitivity of financial data, they should have ownership of their tasks as well as the security of the information they work on.
Data Security Concerns
Data security is a constant concern, whether this is within the local staff or with the remote staff. One way that clients are assured that their data is secure is with strict physical security procedures within the remote office. This includes office policies prohibiting the use mobile devices within the office and access to personal email as well as social media and other internet sites. Hardware based security may also be resorted to by disabling disk drives and USB ports. The service provider may have these restrictions in place as a matter of policy. The client company may need to inquire about these policies to ensure that there is restricted access to company data.
Sending tasks offshore is not a hard decision. However, whether successful or not, it can be a game changer for the client company. Sending accounting tasks offshore can be the limits of what the company needs, or it can also be the solution for other manpower shortages. Implementing it properly can be painless if there is proper planning. Expectations can be better met if these were drawn up prior to starting offshore engagements.