On this episode of the Tech Talk for Accountants Show, Andrew is joined by Dean Barta of Barta Business Group. They discuss the topic of outsourcing accounting. You can listen to the show wherever you listen to podcasts, below and watch on YouTube. You can also read a summary and listen below as well.
Outsourcing CFO services is an important topic but some in accounting liken it to going to the dentist, Dean quipped. “But it’s one of those necessary evils. I have a long history of making it fun.”
Who is Dean Barta?
He’s worked in the outdoor industry – like skiing, summer resorts and adventure travel industry. That has exposed him to a host of businesses and vendors that touch those industries.
“After 20 plus years or so in those industries I decided to take my skills and help small to medium sized business,” Dean said on the podcast. “They can really struggle when it comes to the accounting side. At the core I’m here to help people.”
How to decide whether or not to outsource accounting
Automation and AI in accounting software is making this easier and easier, Dean explained. “There are some things you can do yourself,” Dean said.
Dean shared this example:
- Can you install your dishwasher?
- How long will it take you?
- “Personally, it will take me like three hours,” Dean said.
“So then the question becomes do I want to spend 3 hours of my time installing a dishwasher when I have somebody who can come over and do it in 20 minutes?” Dean asked. “People can do their own accounting but is that the best use of your time as a business owner or even a manager?”
Focus on the right tasks
“It is the idea of time and value of that time,” Andrew said. “I’m really only handy when it comes to IT stuff and the rest is ‘are you kidding?’ Hanging pictures? This is way outside of my roam. If we want to configure network adapters…”
And not only does it take us longer to install the dishwasher, how about when it’s not done correctly. Then the experts need to come in and fix it anyway. In technology security especially that’s important. A written information security plan is required for accountants. Data breaches can bring large fines from the IRS. Why not make sure to get everything set up by the experts to begin with.
“Not only are you skilled at doing some of those things, you also don’t want to do those things,” Dean said.
The business owner really should focus on moving the vision of the company forward. “Everything you are not good at find somebody else who is geeking out on that,” Dean said. “Focusing on the wrong things draws valuable energy away.”
Spending time on those tasks can look like it’s saving money, “but ask yourself,” said Dean. “Are you really saving money?”
Andrew – a business owner himself – knows that dilemma. “There’s just never enough time for everything.”
Expertise within industries
It’s also important to understand the person or company’s specialty. For example, Dean mentioned he hired an IT professional and it took them three hours. “But the $95 an hour rate was low.”
Another service came in with a rate of $175 but they got it done in an hour. Even the higher hourly rate was actually a better deal because they got it done quicker.
“Once you decide to outsource, who are you outsourcing to and what the quality of the work,” Dean said.
How to evaluate partners
Get help from people. Ask another IT professional – one that doesn’t have a vested interest in your business.
Ask for references – similar people, in your industry, similar project.
Ask references specific questions: How did they handle a situation like this?
What is that firm’s personality? How did they work with you?
Be aware of what tools are available. If you need to use a hammer, don’t use another tool. Here’s how that relates to roles: Why is your administrative assistant also the accountant, for example?
Make sure you have a good contract with your partner.
Of course, the client also needs to be a good client to the accounting firm, which Michelle Weinstein also discussed on our appearance on the podcast.
Dean uses the ACT acronym:
- Accurate – are they?
- Clear Communication – how do they communicate with you?
- Timing – do they get back to you?
Working well together helps the project moves forward better.
Andrew also chimed in with the importance of upfront work and setup. Once the systems are set up correctly, business can continue more efficiently. It’s better when malware or ransomware attacks are prevented on the front end.
The power of good work and how you don’t see it
Dean likened professional accounting and remote technology support work to the left tackle in football. The left tackle protects the blind side of a highly paid quarterback in the NFL. The tackle is often paid well. Fans and the public don’t usually hear much about the left tackle when he does his job. It’s preventative and worth the money. Fans do hear about the tackle when he doesn’t do his job, the quarterback got hammered and broke a leg from the hit.
Outsourcing accounting, remote tech support or anything specialized and it’s done well, “that’s the prized left tackle,” Dean said. “And that prized left tackle can be the fourth-best paid player on a football team and that’s because they protect the blind side.”
Just like good tech support monitoring, the left tackle sees the danger coming and then tries to keep the danger away.
It’s easier to group things by price only, Andrew said, but how good will it do you to pay a cheap prize for a 150-pound left tackle when they really need to weigh 300 pounds plus and of course be good at football.