Outsourcing has been the go-to solution for several businesses over the last few decades. In fact, outsourcing finance and accounting functions like accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) has become the norm.
The accounts receivable function, in particular, is time-consuming and cumbersome in nature. Outsourcing this function can free up a lot of time and money for your business to boost its growth. But, how do you go about outsourcing AR? Who should you partner with? What functions should you outsource?
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions about AR outsourcing to help you out.
1) Why should I outsource my accounts receivable functions?
When you outsource the AR function, you’ll be able to focus more on your core business operations. Outsourcing specialists employ highly qualified professionals and their expertise at a significantly lower cost.
Most businesses choose to outsource their AR function to overcome staffing shortages, build scalable teams, reduce the cost of operations, optimise processes and improve the service quality. Nowadays, businesses also leverage the expertise of AR service providers to accelerate their finance & accounting transformation.
2) What are the main benefits of outsourcing accounts receivable?
Streamlines processes: When you partner with a specialist, you’ll get a dedicated finance and accounting team to take care of all your AR-related needs and streamline the entire process for enhanced accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency.
Decreases administrative costs: Maintaining in-house staff for the accounts receivable process involves hiring, training, and maintaining staff, which can get expensive. Furthermore, there are additional expenses related to IT infrastructure, equipment, and office supplies. A specialist can enable your business to avoid these administrative costs and shift focus to more value-add functions.
Integrates the collection system: An experienced specialist partner knows how to effectively integrate the billing and payment collection process, which in turn enables spend management and minimises problems caused by overdue accounts.
3) Which accounts receivable activities can I outsource?
Customer set-up and maintenance
Customer queries resolution
Invoice chasing, escalation, and resolution
Sales ledger maintenance
Invoice discounting reporting and reconciliation
Revenue reconciliation on a weekly and monthly basis
Master vendor reconciliation
Accounts receivable deductions management
4) What skills or qualifications should I look for in a specialist partner?
Use of industry-standard tools and software
Certifications/Accreditations of employees
Standard security measures
5) What data security measures should I expect from a specialist partner?
Compliance with geography-specific standards like GDPR and SOC
High data security standards that comply with standards like ISO 27001
These standards will ensure that most security loopholes are plugged and will include:
Security against potential data breach
Enterprise Access System for employees
Secure remote access (VPN)
Access cards and biometric login for all employees
Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements for employees
In-house CISO and DPO
All employees trained on data protection and security awareness
24*7 monitoring of work premises
Anti-Virus Protection and Back-Up Drive Managers for workstations
Enterprise level malware protection at gateway and email server
IT systems compliant with the UK government backed CyberEssentials scheme
6) What technology and software can I expect from a specialist partner?
An experienced specialist partner will have the capability to work with all major accounting and collection software systems. They are up-to-date with the latest technologies and adapt to them within very short time frames.
Some of the major software packages you should look out for include:
7) Does a business have to be a specific size in order to outsource the accounts receivable function?
The size of a business is not a prerequisite for outsourcing finance and accounting functions. Businesses of any size, be it small, medium, or large, can take advantage of the outsourcing model. SMEs especially can gain significant benefits from outsourcing their AR processes.
Maintaining and training in-house staff for administrative-heavy tasks like accounts receivable can be both time-consuming and expensive. So, outsourcing this function to a specialist can offer businesses a cost-effective solution and frees up more time for staff to focus on the core aspects of the business.
8) Can I outsource specific tasks, or do I need to outsource the entire function?
It’s entirely up to you which functions you wish to outsource. You can either outsource the entire accounts receivable function, or outsource certain key functions in the AR process. Depending on your requirements, the specialist partner can tailor their offerings according to your needs.
The offshore AR service providers work closely with on-shore teams to get the tasks done and deliver as per defined SLAs. This means that it is easy for your business to outsource just the specific accounts receivable tasks that are non-optimum to be done in-house.
9) Will I lose control over my business if I partner with a specialist to handle my business processes?
No! The control of your business will always stay with you. An outsourcing specialist will serve as a partner to aid in your business functions. They will carry out the outsourced functions according to the structure and rules you’ve laid out at the beginning of your business relationship. At the end of the day, the specialist partner acts as an ally to enable your business to grow further and succeed in its endeavours. They will not have the final say in your business decisions or strategies.
10) What are the potential drawbacks and pitfalls of partnering with a specialist? Can they be avoided?
Hidden costs: If your agreement doesn’t cover any additional costs or services, you might be faced with the dilemma of paying more than what you agreed upon. Therefore, it’s important to iron out any issues you may face at the start of your business relationship. The business agreement should outline the exact details of what both parties expect from each other and the exact services that the specialist will provide to your business.
Loss of some control: Once you outsource your accounts receivable functions to a specialist, you might have to give up some control. Although you can provide some direction on how to go about things, the final say on how to carry out various processes and which software to use lies with the specialist. In such instances, it’s a good idea to partner with a specialist who is transparent with their communication and provides regular updates about the assigned tasks.
Concerns regarding security and confidentiality: It could be daunting to share confidential data and intellectual property with an outsider. There may even be concerns over your data being compromised. It’s important to put in place safeguards when sharing such data with a specialist. You can avoid potential issues by including a protective clause in your business agreement and highlighting the repercussions if there’s wilful misuse of data. You can also have a separate non-disclosure agreement with the partner.
Thinking of Outsourcing Your Accounts Receivable Function?
QX is a leading, UK-based finance and accounting service provider working with businesses across industries in the UK and US markets. The right use of process optimisation and technology are at the core of our unique people-process-platform approach.