Traditional compliance services like taxes and audits have long been the bread and butter of many accounting practices. However, customers are increasingly asking for new services beyond this scope, such as accounting, payroll, and advisory-level collaboration. Businesses keen to create new sources of revenue and strengthen their relationships with their clients respond by expanding their services and adopting technology that allows these services to be delivered effectively and efficiently and further evolve into the role of advisors. of confidence.
A big part of securing this role is providing accounts receivable services to your clients. CAS, also known as Outsourced Accounting, includes financial statement preparation, general ledger management, cash flow management, payroll preparation and reporting, AP, AR, transaction processing, virtual CFO and business advisory services, and monitoring. It differs from after-the-fact accounting not only in its scope, but also because CAS relies on real-time data. As more and more data is compiled, accountants have an information platform with which to proactively advise their clients. A CAS-powered conversation focuses on what will happen, not what To pass. The business owner benefits on several levels. According to 2018 Accounts Receivable Services Survey:
Companies that outsource all accounting report both a material and material return on investment, including higher profits and revenues, being better equipped to make business decisions and benefiting from an easier accounting experience.
Characteristics of the pre-strategic CAS
Here are three indicators that your business can benefit from a strategic CAS.
First of all, are you losing customers to competitors? Because they are driven by their results, clients trivialize routine services and seek the lowest bidder for those services. If you get ignored, it means customers still just see you as a routine service provider. You haven’t yet established or conveyed the true value of your services and your ability to deliver business-critical information that cannot be overridden.
Second, are you wondering about the future of your business? As the saying goes, the only constant is change. Customer expectations are changing, as is technology. If you’re worried that your business may not stand the test of time, there is an opportunity to increase valuation by growing the business, expanding services, and embracing a tech-friendly culture. In today’s active M&A environment, savvy buyers are bypassing hard-to-scale, paper-based businesses in favor of efficient, tech-savvy businesses.
Third, are you having trouble getting new business? You may be lagging behind the competition that already offers strategic CAS. Proving your value helps you retain your customers, and communicating that value and those strong relationships to potential customers makes it much easier to secure their business.
But how do you get started with CAS? While many accounting firms are interested in offering it, not all of them have figured out how to turn that interest into action. This article, the first in a three-part series on implementing, developing and scaling up CAS, will explain the first step in getting started.
Entry points for the CAS
CAS’s offering provides your business with a host of benefits, including expanding services for existing customers, attracting new customers, and increasing revenue. While these perks are appealing, how do you achieve them? Start offering all possible services at once, or start rolling out additional services bit by bit.
According to a recent poll, small businesses have identified a number of services that they would most like to outsource to their accountants. The main tasks identified for outsourcing were PA, RA, general ledger management and financial statement preparation. For the needs of a business new to CAS, offering these services would be a good starting point and a great way to open the door to the development of a full-fledged CAS offering.
It is important to note, however, that successfully delivering these initial services is difficult without the right technology. For example, generating profit while doing manual / paper PA and AR is a significant resource and time challenge. They take away valuable bandwidth that could be spent to better serve customers and deliver more value, which is the end goal of CAS.
So the answer lies in automation.
Automation lets you spend more time on what matters most – your customers. While we discuss it here in the context of CAS, it’s important to note that whether or not you plan to offer CAS or not, there are benefits to automating accounting for every business.
Digitizing and automating routine tasks allows you to focus on creating value for your customers, rather than spending those same hours dealing with paperwork. The move towards a customer-centric practice lays the foundation for a fully-fledged CAS offering.
Automation also creates gains in precision and efficiency. By reducing the potential for human error out of the equation, automated processes help eliminate many of the common mistakes accounting firms see. Staff become more efficient and can focus on other higher added value tasks.
Combining standardized processes with automation makes your business even more efficient. Evaluate the processes and people currently involved in delivering your services and ask yourself: are you continually reinventing the wheel? Does every new customer require a unique process and the need to learn new technologies? If so, it’s time to change that. Take a look at your workflows – both internal and external – and explore what can make those processes work better. Can you eliminate or automate steps or streamline the number of people involved? Another candidate for standardization is the process of onboarding your customers.
Equally important is assessing your current technology. Technology can automate on premise. The cloud, however, gives you real-time data, collaboration, easier integrations than existing systems, anytime, anywhere access, and mobility. Successful CAS practices are those that embrace the cloud and the innovative technologies it powers. In order to successfully deliver CAS, you will need a technology stack that combines your accounting, AP, AR, expenses, payroll, and other processes in one efficient place. Integrations between these technologies drive automation by synchronizing information between systems and providing a real-time view of finances.
Once you’ve moved from focus to automation, the next step is strategy. The second article in this series, by Vishal Thakkar, Alliance Marketing Director at CPA.com, will explore the evolution towards strategic CAS.
To learn more about the CAS, download the Accounts Receivable Services eBook at CPA.com – “Accelerate into Advisory.””
Pete Potsos, CPA, is Director of Strategic Accounts at Bill.com.