The question we hear most often from leaders considering outsourcing their accounting to ARI is, how does the process work? What will I need to do on my end? Will it be a hassle to get started?
So, we wanted to outline the five main steps of how the transfer typically occurs. Of course, there are always unique circumstances that require a slightly different approach but, for the most part, here’s what to expect.
1. Introductory meeting to get to know one another.
We’ll schedule a short meeting (usually about an hour) with you and anyone else in your organization who can shed light on your accounting and bookkeeping needs. We’ll learn about your business, your short- and long-term goals, your current financial situation, and any challenges that are keeping you up at night. We want to understand why you’re considering outsourcing and how we can remove the burden of accounting from your list of responsibilities.
2. Information gathering activities to determine the level of support you require.
If we decide our organizations are a good fit for one another, we’ll both sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to formalize our confidential relationship.
To properly estimate your monthly fee, we’ll need to assess your books, the condition of your records, and the complexity of your financial reporting needs. We’ll review your existing reports and determine if there are ways to improve upon them. Finally, we’ll estimate how much effort is required initially to set up your organization with ARI and how much time to allocate on a monthly basis to process your transactions and prepare your financial statements. Initial setup includes clearing up any outstanding issues, such as bank account reconciliations.
We’ll assess your monthly transactional volume (point of sale data, number of accounts payables invoices processed per month, etc.), understand any monthly adjustments and supporting schedules you currently prepare and analyze your existing year-end and interim financial statements (either audited or internal).
If you use QuickBooks to manage your accounts, we’ll analyze your data backup file. If not, you can provide us your general ledger or give us remote access to your accounting system.
3. Discussion of the current and future state of your organization’s finances.
When we have a clear understanding of your organization’s current financial state, we’ll meet with you to discuss what we learned during the information gathering process, point out any issues or challenges we discovered, and explain any process improvements we would recommend.
We will then prepare a written proposal which will include a list of services your accounting team will provide on a monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis, including itemized costs.
4. We’ve decided to outsource. Now what?
Who will I work with?
The answer to this question depends on what accounting services your organization needs. At a minimum, you will interact with your assigned engagement manager, who has a broad accounting and business management skillset and serves as the primary contact for questions about your relationship with ARI and a staff accountant. Larger organizations may need additional expertise and will have access to a senior-level advisor who is the go-to person for questions about your financial statements and serves as your Controller or Chief Financial Officer.
What’s the process to give my engagement manager the data and documents he or she needs on a regular basis?
Because every organization is unique and one size does not fit all, we’ll determine what data sharing methods are most efficient and effective for both of us.
As a best practice, it is best for ARI to have one point of contact within your organization – someone who serves as the “traffic controller,” who provides accurate information to us on a timely basis and answers any questions that arise. This individual is usually appointed by the CEO.
We’ll define the financial reports you need and will work backward from the date you need them to outline the weekly and monthly timelines and processes for data input on your side and reporting delivery on our side.
For efficient data sharing, we typically use electronic file-sharing platforms to collaborate with one another and to share files securely. This helps streamline communication, ensures all data is stored in a central location and provides redundancy if an individual is out for any reason.
In general, ARI requires access to the following:
- General ledger/accounting system
- Point of sales system (if applicable)
- Bank accounts
- Payroll company (if applicable)
- Bill pay at the bank (if applicable) and/or check stock and/or bill payment method
It may also make sense to provide your ARI accountant with access to specific email boxes within your organization – perhaps your accounting or accounts payable address – to streamline activities.
Will my ARI accountant work on-site at my organization?
There are times when it is more efficient and effective for a member of your ARI team to be on-site – perhaps during the onboarding process when relationships are forming between our organizations or during budget discussions or board meetings. For the typical day-to-day work, we find communication via file sharing, telephone, and sometimes video conferencing to be most effective.
5. What deliverables can I expect?
Depending on your organization’s needs, we will deliver monthly, quarterly, and/or annual financial reports. As a best practice, we use the standard reporting package in QuickBooks, which summarizes receivables, sales, payables, purchases and inventory, payroll, banking, and more.
For those organizations not using QuickBooks, we will define deliverables using your existing accounting software.
These are just some of the questions we regularly hear from prospective clients. If you have additional questions, please feel free to Contact us.
If you’re still determining whether outsourcing your accounting needs is the right choice for you, here are the 10 benefits of outsourcing accounting our clients have realized over the years.