When it comes to appointing professional advisers, it’s crucial that you get the right fit for your business. There is plenty of choice out there, including some big names which offer seemingly affordable packages, but there is, in fact, a large disparity between the services on offer. Without an informed understanding of both the provider and your own requirements, you could easily end up making the wrong choice.
So how do you pick an outsourced provider that is going to work effectively with you and your business? Having worked across a range of industries and provided outsourced services for more than 25 years, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of outsourcing, so we know a thing or two about what works well. That’s why we have developed an integrated outsourced service which turns traditional thinking on its head – providing the flexibility and specialist expertise of outsourcing with the accessibility and reassurance of an in-house presence. While no two outsourcing organisations are the same, we believe there are some fundamental characteristics to our approach which are essential to providing a first class service. In order to make an informed choice, getting a firm understanding of whether your potential outsourced partner can demonstrate strength in these areas is a good place to start.
Central to any successful outsourcing relationship is the fit between the people involved. The best outsourced services offer more than quarterly meetings and Skype calls; they invest time and effort in becoming part of the business. This involves understanding the drivers and key issues within the business, building relationships with people across the organisation and developing a service which aligns itself with the business needs and focuses on achieving successful outcomes.
This is key to the way we work with our clients. We build an in-depth understanding of the business and its requirements; we critically analyse information and make recommendations that will help achieve the aims of the business; and we get to know the business partners and staff very well and vice versa. As a result, we are able to fit seamlessly into each and every level of the business, from tackling issues at the coal face to providing strategic advice at board level. This allows us to go further than many other providers, working as part of the management team to help drive the business forward.
“Their personalities and strategic approach make them different. They are part of a client’s team.”
Tax Partner, Accountancy Firm
We believe that this integrated approach to outsourcing to outsourcing provides the best and most efficient solution for businesses. By combining working onsite with additional offsite support, clients have the reassurance of an in-house presence with anytime access to specialist advice. This develops a positive and open relationship, which helps build trust and allows our team to be fully integrated into the organisation, which gives us the best opportunity to achieve results.
It goes without saying that any outsourced provider must have the necessary skills and experience to fulfil your business requirements. And, in our area of service provision – strategic financial management and control – you would think that most accountancy firms are fully equipped to offer this service. However, we find that clients are often unclear about the support they require, or what is available. Additionally, there are few firms who specialise in providing this service, as many concentrate on other areas of work and are not geared up to providing the ongoing in-depth management and control and analytical approach that is needed within modern day businesses.
All too often, businesses settle for mundane reports which merely scratch the surface and offer
“We have total faith in the information they provide, so can see which part of the business is working well, or not. It means you can get in early to deal with an issue. It’s not just about number crunching but looking at how to make things better. We feel that they have our best interests at heart.” Managing Director, Construction Company
little value to strategic decision making. That’s why we delve deeper into each business so that we can provide timely, bespoke analysis and meaningful commentary, to flag up opportunities and risks and enable the management team to use the information to drive the direction of the business.
Within most businesses, there will be a variety of people undertaking many tasks at various levels of skill and cost. Yet in many outsourced situations, this is not the case. Often when a client buys in expertise in the finance department, such as an FD or bookkeeping service, they only have access to one person, with one level of expertise and cost. Whereas in practice, providing strategic financial management and control is a multi-tiered, multi-skilled requirement. Effective providers need to be able to offer multi-tiered support which is a more accurate reflection of the needs of the business and delivers a comprehensive, proactive and cost effective service.
Most clients need a balance between strategic advice and operational support and access to flexible resources depending on business priorities, workloads and sometimes, seasonality. If you only have input at a strategic
“With Playfair Partnerships we have support from a fantastic team with expertise across a range of issues and business areas. They are genuinely interested in our business, not just the numbers, and work brilliantly with people at all levels.” Managing Director, Retail Business
level, you risk not having the in-house resources or capabilities to carry through the proposed actions, or you are potentially paying too much for some of that service. Equally, a solely transactional service will not provide you with valuable proactive and strategic insight that will enhance business performance.
We provide a breadth of knowledge and experience so that, as well as offering an FD service and senior level expertise, we roll up our sleeves and get the job done. It’s this multi-tiered support which enables businesses to have access to the right skills at the right time and at the right cost, under one roof. Our integrated approach ensures we have a thorough grasp of the whole process – from planning to implementation.
“Playfair Partnerships aren’t just management accountants – they provide strategic overview, detailed information and visible outputs.” Relationship Director, Corporate Bank
It is this approach, together with our sharp analytical skills and reporting which gives banks and other funders confidence to lend to our clients – either to stabilise their business or enable it to pursue ambitious growth plans.
In summary, it is often a challenge for businesses to choose the right outsourced provider when, on the face of it, they offer similar services. However, if you focus in on the few that really demonstrate strength in all the core elements above, then you are in a good position to select a provider that will deliver a first class service. Get that right and your business will soon see the benefits that an effective outsourced partnership can bring.
If you would like to find out more about our integrated outsourced service and how we can work with your business to help drive it forward, please get in touch.