Competing with the Big Four: Outsourcing as the Leveler

Many companies find that having data entry work done by staff in India is very helpful not only to the bottom line, but also to the internal staff that is dealing with incoming calls, clients, and the day-to-day activity.  The India teams accomplish their work during the US evening. I have workers in several locations: Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, and Pune.  All of these off-shore BPOs handle sensitive financial data within a safe and secure connection to servers based in the US. Most often, the server is at a managed server facility ensuring that SOC II security compliance is in place. 

The most successful finance and accounting firms that utilize outsourcing use a web-based workflow and DMS to communicate tasks, source material, and answer questions. On the Indian side, the more successful BPOs use the team approach to work for their US- and Canadian-based clients.  The team aspect makes sure that all team members have an understanding of all the clients assigned to the team.  This cuts down considerably on the learning curve for the India groups.

Just as the Big 4 accounting and super-regional firms have used off-shore personnel and built up their consulting practices, so too now the small- and mid-sized firms can avail themselves of the same enterprise level of technology to provide the same level of service to their clients.

The small- to medium-size firms have a defined service level agreement with the BPOs.  The SLA defines the scope of engagement for the work that is to be performed, how often, and what manner of communication is used.  Some BPOs require that the firms outsourcing to their off-shore teams use a proprietary workflow communication software. This helps the teams on both sides to get over the technology hurdle of communicating across distance and time zones.  Other BPOs will allow the accounting or financial firm to decide the communication. In cases where email is the sole means of communication, the level of difficulty and the amount of work sent stays fairly low.

Today I met with an old friend from the Xpitax office in Chennai.  Shanker was in San Diego visiting his son who works for a US software company.  I had not been to the Chennai office in 2 years.  It was heartwarming to hear about all the young people who worked in the Chennai office, many of whom had been there since 2005.  The amount of collective knowledge in that Chennai office about US and Canadian tax, accounting and bookkeeping is stunning.