2020 has changed regular business practices more than any preceding year. The businesses that can react and adapt quickly are the ones that seem the most likely to succeed.
Working from home and outsourcing departments has become an increasingly hot topic in the business world. We understand the concerns and questions that come with outsourcing and aim to address these and debunk some of the myths.
Working from home
Government statistics show that by the end of September 2020, the number of working adults who travelled to work fell to 59% from 64%, while the proportion who worked from home exclusively increased to 24% from 21%. When you add in that 16% neither travelled to work nor are working from home (furlough etc.), it shows that the people who are still exclusively working from an office are in the minority.
Compared with 2019, where only 5.1% of the UK population mainly worked from home and as little as 30% worked from home at all, it shows a drastic increase. Employee attitudes are also changing, as around 80% of people interviewed enjoyed working from home, according to McKinsey.
With businesses seeing the positive effects of changing their outdated working practices, the conversation naturally leads to outsourcing work. According to research, 28% of businesses are already considering outsourcing. The same article shows the areas which are shown to be crucially important and kept in-house are sales and customer service.
This statistic is likely to rise over time as businesses look to departments which they don’t require to be in the office full time. We will see an increasing number of remote positions and alternative business models.
Debunking Outsourcing Drawbacks
Outsourcing is no longer a last resort or only an option for large, global businesses. The word outsourcing has negative connotations in business, despite the leaps and bounds it has come along in the last decade.
Outsourcing used to mean departments being moved to countries with drastically cheaper labour. This often came with breakdowns in communication, some managers being sent overseas to manage teams and different time zones leading to a lack of productivity.
With complete transformations of communication technology and an increase in local outsourcing opportunities, there are some major business reasons to consider an outsourcing model.
Reduction in cost and office space
The most important benefit to any business – cost. Outsourcing has proven to be cost-effective for businesses. You only need to compare the cost of an outsourced department versus an in-house to see why it is increasingly popular.
Take Virgate as an example: our monthly Premium rate starts at £1575. This includes 4 fully trained members of staff, as well as subscription and free access to a suite of market-leading business applications.
When this is compared to the costs of an internal department of 4 accounting and payroll professionals (salaries, pension, company benefits and access to software), it becomes apparent which is the most beneficial.
This is without taking office costs into consideration. Research by Abintra has shown that businesses in the UK and Wales squander £10billion per year on underutilised office space. Outsourcing a department effectively removes the space required to house your accounting team and allows you to recoup these costs.
Increase in skillset
Alongside the decrease in cost comes an increase in skillset. The negative connotation of outsourcing has been built from previous iterations where it was utilised ineffectively.
Now, you can outsource departments to companies where the staff may even be more qualified than your own teams. This reduces the time and cost of training your staff, as this is covered by your partnering business.
By bringing in industry experts, like Virgate, you can feel comfortable that your accounting team knows the tricks of the trade.
Closer than ever before
Businesses need to make sure that any work done by an off-site department meets the quality their clients and colleagues expect. In previous years, this meant sending a member of staff to another geographical location to train and monitor. Difficult conversations were held over the phone, often with poor quality. Thanks to vast improvements in communication technology, outsourcing can feel like an extension of your own business.
At Virgate, the onboarding process is a key step in our client working relationship. Through a number of calls, we ensure that we know your business needs and goals and can effectively help to deliver them.
Not only is video conferencing a staple of the work with our clients, but we also offer a direct line number which is answered by one of the 4 members in your specific team. No waiting times, no hold music – simply a department working from another office.
What you can do
Having covered the improvements that outsourcing can bring to your business, we also want to address what you can do to help with the transition. There are some basic points to follow which can help with the move to an outsourced model.
Build a trusting partnership
Trust is the most important part of any business relationship. When choosing a partner, make sure that you can rely on their work and that they understand your business.
Don’t simply look for the cheapest alternative – probe your new partners and ensure that this is not just a cost-saving exercise, but a way to streamline your business and help you grow.
In-depth review of departments
This may be the most challenging aspect of outsourcing for a business. We do not want to make the suggestion that whole departments have to be made redundant; however, times are tough and difficult decisions need to be made to ensure survival.
Business owners need to take a level-headed and practical approach to review necessary in-house departments. Look at the business case, weigh up the figures and work out areas where costs can be cut while still retaining productivity.
Create a ‘new normal’
Transitioning to an outsourcing model will naturally change your business and can lead to a leaner, more agile approach. However, it can also lead to a change in business culture. By getting ahead of it, you can ensure that the culture is changed for the better.
Make sure your in-house staff are fully aware of the change and how they will work alongside the new department. Try to create a culture which sees outsourcing as a positive aid to the rest of the colleagues, rather than a negative.
As mentioned, outsourcing often leads to an increase in skills. It is easy for business leaders to get involved in all aspects of the business. This needs to be reimagined and addressed before bringing in an off-site partner.
A well-oiled outsourced department can react to change as well as any in-house department; however, effective communication needs to be paramount. Take stock of the decisions you need to be involved in, and trust other business areas to account for decisions where they can (including the outsourced teams). This will free up your time in the long run, allowing you to manage your business efficiently and effectively.
Are you a B2C business that is considering outsourcing your accounting department? Book a free consultation call with Virgate Accounts and we can answer any questions you may have.
DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute advice. Any information given was correct at the time of writing. Copyright © 2020 Virgate Accounts. All rights reserved.