Previous articles on our blog have explored why small-business owners should consider outsourcing portions of their bookkeeping, operational and controllership services. Reasons include introducing controls against internal fraud or theft and the ability to ramp up during temporary periods of high demand.
That's not to say business owners need to choose either an outsourced bookkeeping service or an on-staff bookkeeper. In many cases, the best solution is a combination of both. Here's why.
A Single Bookkeeper Can't Always Keep Up
Recently, I met with a prospective client who told me, "My bookkeeper went to lunch three weeks ago and we haven't heard from her. She won't answer her cell phone or emails."
That situation, unfortunately, is not terribly unusual. Many business owners simply don't realize how stressed their bookkeeper is until it's too late. Just because you're willing to work long hours and wear many hats doesn't mean your bookkeeper is. And even if they're willing, they might not be able.
If you hire a relatively inexperienced, inexpensive bookkeeper to do your payroll and basic AP/AR functions — but then also ask them to conduct bank reconciliations or internal audits, prepare detailed financial reports, track inventory, conduct quarterly forecasts, analyze your annual budget or take on other higher-level responsibilities — can you blame them for succumbing to burnout?
An outsourced bookkeeping service can offer higher-level support as needed, according to your budgetary needs. In some cases, such a service can also provide training and establish systems that will bring your on-staff bookkeeper up to speed at a pace they can handle. So not only will your bookkeeper not feel threatened by an outside service — they might actually stick around longer. (And if they do feel threatened, that's a red flag.)
Don't Get Caught Shorthanded
Of course, even good on-staff bookkeepers get sick, miss time for parental or medical leave or simply decide to move on. That leads to another benefit of supplementing your full-time staff with an outsourced bookkeeping service: If you need to fill a short-term vacancy, or if you want to take your time in selecting a permanent replacement when a staff member leaves, you'll already have a working relationship with an outside service that's familiar with you, your business and your staff.
The bottom line: Having the support of outside bookkeeping professionals whenever it's necessary brings peace of mind — for both you and your on-staff bookkeeper.