During 2 days of Accounting Business Expo 2023, Australia, innovative ideas and best practices in the Accounting and Finance industry were shared by savvy professionals to keep their clients ahead of the curve.
Among the most interesting panel discussions, “Offshoring Accounting and Finance: What are the right questions to ask?” has brought to the Accounting Business Expo 2023’s audience a lot of helpful sharing from 3 industry expert panellists:
- Thuy Doan, CEO – Founder of Innovature BPO;
- Faith Natividad, Chief Heart Officer of DIgital Workforce; and
- David Petterson, Head of Sales of Super Records.
The moderator of the panel is Michelle Kvello, Founder CEO of Lantern Partners.
The session to the cover impact of offshoring on the Accounting and Finance sector, how offshoring enhances the team and not replaces them, what are the right questions to ask when considering offshoring and what ongoing support you need when you start offshoring.
Below we recap some of the insights shared by our CEO – Founder, Ms. Thuy Doan.
|Michelle Kvello: What are the key things I should be looking for when offshoring? What are the most common questions new clients ask you?|
Thuy Doan: A lot of times, clients are asking, do you have the expertise in the area that you provide? Do you provide any services to clients in the same industry as I do, like the onboarding process from recruitment to retention.
The other one is like the transition process between the onshore team to the offshore team. How are like familiar those offshore employees going to be familiar with the system that they are using?
And the last thing is going to be the KPIs, which we call SLA. And how are we going to manage the underperforming employees?
So those are the things that clients really care about when looking into outsourcing solutions.
|Michelle Kvello: Thank you, Thuy. So it is a really good and important point that having most technicals and certifications to make sure we’ve got the confidence around data security, but really around contact communication, culture fit, all those processes right for you as an organization.
For services existing in the industry, how do the different models work and what should the potential clients use assessing when they evaluate the models?
Thuy Doan: As a BPO service provider, like others, we provide a wide range of services from Accounting, Finance, BI to Customer Service. Overall, we can split them into two sectors.
For short-term projects, for example, if you have a year-end W-2 review and then you want to have a team review it and audit everything before you release the W-2 to the employees.
Or you can have another model which is like a long-term service model, in which you have the resources dedicated to working with your team in-house. So they are kind of a part of your internal team.
So that’s the two basic BPO services that we provide.
In majority of time, we will go with the client request first. We want to know what the client has in place. We will review, consult with the client the best practices we are normally using. And then from there, we’re gonna go with the suggestion from our company, or we’re gonna go with the current processes the client is having.
So it is the majority that is going to be the process that we work together with the client to choose the best practices to implement.
|Michelle Kvello: What are the most common questions new clients ask you?|
Thuy Doan: I used to work in client side and we were in needs for outsourcing Accounting. I initiated the outsourcing efforts of the company in the US. So my concern was, if I lock into a contract with this specific scope of work, but then I change it later, can the provider accommodate my change? Do they have the flexibility to accommodate what I need in a different stage of my company?
That’s the most concern I have, because I know that when you sign a contract with the BPO provider, they have specific tasks, and if you change it, you have to pay additional cost. Those kinds of things make me feel that to find the most reliable BPO partner, we have to look into not just cost, but a partner that can grow along with your business. That’s very important.
|Michelle Kvello: What would you say to a prospective client who was wondering if they were too big or too small to offshore? Is there an ideal point?|
Thuy Doan: Big clients do outsourcing for a long time already. So they are very familiar with outsourcing.
For small clients, I think there’s no idea point to start outsourcing. It’s more on if you are experiencing exponential growth, your revenue jumps very fast, but you cannot scale up the cost of our operations in the same scale and revenue because it’s going to hit your bottom line. So that’s why you look into outsourcing to have the team integrated into your team.
When small businesses, for business owners that want to shift their focus from running up daily operations to growing business like in sales and marketing, then you need outsourcing services to help with your operations.
Another part is when you have stable operations, you need to minimize the cost. And that’s when BPO can come in and help.
I think those three scenarios are gonna help with outsourcing.
|Michelle Kvello: What would you say to clients saying/thinking “Culture is very important to our organization” – how do they preserve that when transitioning to an offshore model?|
Thuy Doan: Realistically from a client standpoint, because I used to be in the client standpoint, I don’t expect the whole 100% cultural fit, but I expect the service provider is gonna act on the same standard, as transparency, accountability, and accuracy. And I think that’s the same standard that is expected, the one that works for me – the onshore team. So those kinds of things to me are more important.
The culture is that everybody is different. Different countries have different cultures and those companies have different cultures as well. So I would prefer to set the same level on the SLA, KPIs and those kinds of things.
|Michelle Kvello: How do you deal with turnover?|
Thuy Doan: Turnover is the biggest thing in the BPO industry nowadays. So that’s why as a BPO provider, what we do is we have the backup system, which is any account that we have turnover, in any position, we have the next person can come in immediately so that you don’t experience any interruption in operations.
That’s the guarantee that most of the BPO service providers are gonna have. But at our company, we always have different levels of team management. For team leads that they can come in right away to go fulfill the positions that have turnover, and then we have another next step is functional managers in charge of Accounting, of Customer Service and those kinds of things are gonna help with problems with turnovers, or anything related.
|Michelle Kvello: Cyber/data security is top of mind for most industries at the moment? How do you give clients comfort around the data/knowledge you hold for and about them?|
Thuy: For us, data security is always one of the biggest things like for clients to have a concern with the BPO industry or BPO company. So with us, we have the experience working with small clients, medium-sized clients and even Fortune 500 US clients.
We always provide the clients with ISO certificate and the IT infrastructure that can meet the strictest requirement from the clients as well.
And also we have Professional Insurance that can help cover for unfortunate things that can happen, and that the insurance plan is going to kick in and protect the client’s interest.
|Michelle Kvello: What are the main reasons for failure in implementing outsourcing solutions? How do you solve those kinds of problems?|
Thuy Doan: I think the main reason for the failure for companies to implement outsourcing solutions is there’s the misalignment between the management and the people actually work in the process. For example, the Director of Accounting and Finance may want to have outsourced to save some cost, make the process more efficient. But the people that work under her or him don’t feel like they want to do that because they might think that they can lose their job and they don’t want to upload the workload to the offshore team.
And I think that’s when the outsourcing initiatives fail because you can spend a lot of money, but eventually when you look back and say, well, the process so far has not been successful. There needs to be the commitment between the management and the people working in the process, to make the effort of outsourcing be a successful journey.
We have different levels of management for each of the accounts. Because the level of staff that working directly with the staff at the client side, we have the Managers, we have the Team Lead, and we have even the Head of Client Services so that we can have multi channels of communication, so that everybody is aware of everything is going on. And if there’s any problem, we will proactively have a solution to those problems.
|Michelle Kvello: What’s the one thing you would want someone listening today to take away from this conversation?|
Thuy Doan: BPO is a trend nowadays. Everybody is talking about outsourcing, so it’s very hard to find a reliable partner because you have so many choices.
My takeover advice is, cost is very important, but if you just take into consideration cost to choose a BPO service partner, it’s going to give you a lot of headaches in the long run.
For me, if I want to choose a good BPO service provider, I would want to see if that company can grow along with my business and accommodate my needs in the long run. That’s my piece of advice, and I think that the rest of the panelists would agree with me as well.
About Thuy Doan
Thuy has nearly 20 years of experience in Accounting and Finance field in both Vietnam and U.S. She managed General Accounting and Financial functions as Director of Accounting at Pinnacle Group, one of the largest IT staffing firms in the United States.
In 2013, Thuy returned to Vietnam to expand her career and worked as Managing Director for Forbes Vietnam magazine as one of the first key members that set up Forbes magazine in Vietnam and responsible for Forbes Vietnam’s business operations and strategies. In 2015, Thuy founded Innovature, a remote workforce solution for the North American and Australian markets.