Small Business Financial & Accounting (f&a) Offshore Outsourcing Cost

Fortune 500 companies have been off shoring the financial and accounting business processes (BPO) to countries like India, Philippians, China, etc. These companies have big budgets and a big team of consultants who analyzes the total cost and ROI of sending their financial and accounting work to the service providers in offshore locations. Though smaller companies have started off shoring their financial and accounting work to offshore locations but like big corporations small businesses do not have huge budget to hire consultants to identify the total cost of off shoring their financial and accounting work to offshore locations. But small businesses can still perform their due diligence in calculating total cost of their offshore engagement and gain critical knowledge in finding ROI of sending their financial and accounting work to offshore locations. In this report we will go through all of the hidden costs of offshoring financial and accounting business processes.

1. Different Costs of Offshoring Financial & Accounting Work

Small businesses mainly consider offshoring their work, they will consider only the hourly rate they need to pay to the offshore vendor for various accounting works like bookkeeping, accounts payable, accounts receivable, etc. There are several other additional hidden costs small business have to face in their offshore outsourcing engagement. Typically a small business goes through following offshore accounting work cycle in their offshore engagement:

• Selecting an offshore accounting vendor

• Sending the work to the offshore vendor

• Answering questions for the offshore vendor

• Receiving the finished work from the offshore vendor

• Verifying the finished work from the offshore vendor

• Monitoring the quality of the finished work from the offshore vendor

2. Cost of Selecting offshore accounting vendor

The cost associated with selecting an offshore accounting vendor will be small compared to other costs. Most of the time small businesses can find a qualified offshore accounting vendor simply by searching in Google or by contacting other small businesses those who are already using an offshore vendor, for detailed discussion on this topic read Offshore Accounting Success. This cost is the one time cost and it will be similar to selecting an onshore vendor.

3. Cost of sending the work to an offshore vendor

Small businesses must consider various types of cost like Scanner, High speed Internet, Backup Server, etc, to send their financial and account documents to an offshore vendor, but the good news is that it will be a one time investment and most of the small businesses will have these in place already. There are three different offshore accounting models you can use to send your accounting and financial work to the offshore vendors and for these you will incur following one time cost.

3.1. Scanner & Scanning software

Most of the accounting and financial data will be in your accounting software like QuickBooks, Peachtree etc, but there will be other documents like Bills, Checks, Invoices, Goods received notes, etc will be on paper and these should be digitized using a scanner and a scanning software to convert it into PDF documents which will be stored in your computer. Once the documents are in your computer then you can give access to the offshore vendor to view the PDF documents or they can retrieve it from your computer to perform their work in the offshore location.

Most of small businesses already have a scanner, if not a scanner (scanning software comes with the scanner) can be purchased for less than 00.00. The cost of the scanner will go up based on the volume of accounting and financial documents to be scanned in a given day. It will be a one time cost for the small business and also by scanning all their paper based accounting documents; you can improve the efficiency of overall accounting process.

3.2. High speed Internet Connection Cost

You need to have high-speed Internet connection to send and receive the work to and from offshore location. Again all most all small businesses already have DSL/T1 Internet connection if not they can get a DSL Internet connection for -100/month.

3.3. Secure FTP software

If small businesses are using Application Service Provider (ASP) like Quickbooks online, cpaasp.com, etc, then it is possible for offshore vendors to directly access your accounting data directly from the ASP vendor. In this case there is no need to use secure FTP software.

3.4. Backup Server

Once small businesses start digitizing their accounting documents for their offshore vendors, they need to start planning for the backup server to backup all their accounting documents. Most of the small businesses will have this feature already, if not it is a good investment to have a backup server to backup all their accounting and financial data from their main computer to the backup server. For any business “Business continuity” is a vital task and the backup server will help the small businesses to recover all the accounting data in case of main computer failure.

3.5. Additional Accounting software License cost

Small businesses use various accounting software packages like QuickBooks, MYOB, Microsoft Office Accounting etc, for doing all their accounting and financial work. When they offshore the work the offshore vendor will use the same accounting software to do the work. It is very difficult for the small businesses to find an offshore vendor who already owns the licenses for all the accounting software. As described in the offshore accounting models if small businesses decides to use Remote Server or ASP then there is no additional cost for small businesses. On the other hand if the small businesses decided to use Secure File Transfer then small businesses needs to buy additional accounting software license for the offshore vendor to use. Small businesses will incur this cost even if they outsource the work to onshore vendors. This cost is truly soley based on the accounting software package used by the small businesses. Accounting software packages comes with various flavors types of software licenses like concurrent users, fixed number of users, CPU based, Network based etc., Some times small businesses can completely avoid this cost altogether.

4. Managing Financial & Accounting offshore vendor

Once you send your accounting and financial work to the offshore vendor, you need to constantly mange and monitor the quality of finished work that comes back from the vendor. Initially you may need a full-time person educating the offshore accountants and bookkeepers about your accounting process and preparing proper instructions for them to follow in their work. Once you and the offshore team are comfortable in the working relationship then all you need is to verify the work periodically. Basically you need to consider the offshore team as your virtual team and educate them in your accounting processes and procedures, once you are comfortable with their work your own employee(s) will spend less time with the offshore vendors.

5. Offshore vendor wage

For the accounting and financial work performed by the offshore vendor, small businesses will pay either an hourly rate or a monthly rate to the offshore vendor. This will be the actual direct cost small businesses will pay to the offshore vendor and all other costs are indirect cost of sending the work to offshore vendor. Typically the wage cost will be 50-70% less than the cost paid to the onshore accounting and financial vendor. For small businesses this cost savings is one of the major reasons to use the offshore vendor for their financial and accounting work.

Small businesses need to consider several costs in their financial and accounting offshore engagement. As shown in the table Small business F&A offshore outsourcing – Fixed Cost Vs Monthly Cost some of the costs are fixed and some of them are monthly expanses incurred by the small businesses. Among the monthly cost only the offshore vendor wage is the direct cost paid to the offshore vendor. While performing ROI analysis small businesses must consider all these costs to find the Total Cost of doing business with offshore vendors. As shown in the table, for certain items finding out the exact cost may not be possible and it is highly based on the individual small businesses and the type of accounting and financial work that has been sent to offshore locations. The total cost may not be a fixed amount and it can change from month to month. For example in some months there will be more questions from the offshore vendor in clarifications and in other months there will be less questions, this cost will vary from month to month.

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