I find the red carpet fascinating. Whenever there's an awards ceremony like the Oscars, they bust out the red carpet. If you're walking down the red carpet, you're someone of importance and wealth. If not, well you're just a cameraman or a drooling fan.
Outsourced accounting services have become popular for several reasons of the past few years, but the one reason that has me the most interested is the red carpet treatment. Think about it. If your bookkeeper is in-house, you get treated like a boss. If you use an online bookkeeper, you get treated like a customer - someone of great importance. And that is the difference we're looking at today.
Lets look at a few examples
1. When you ask your accountant or bookkeeper to do something
Your in-house person will take the list, walk back to his or her desk and start working on it. They'll do their best to get it done on time, but if they don't, they know you'll probably put up with it. After all, firing them only creates a lot of pain for you since you have to recruit, hire and train a sufficient placement. That's probably not going to happen, so mediocrity is allowed.
If you used outsourced accounting services to get something done, your accountant will ask you about your expectations, when it needs to be completed by, and then follow up with "Is there anything else I can do for you today?" Well that's a breath of fresh air, isn't it? Since you're a customer, they know you'll switch to another vendor unless they do a good job so excellence is created in this relationship. Switching here is easier for you since you don't have to do nearly as much work. You just plug a new vendor in and let them do what they do best.
2. When you want to design better accounting processes
The in-house bookkeeper or accountant will hem and haw when you ask for better processes. Why? Because they feel like they're already too busy, and taking on the time to make things better is not motivating. What do they gain from getting faster and better? Not a whole lot. They also worry that by improving processes, it will make them less valuable since software would be managing part of their job process.
On the other hand, an outsourced accounting service is very motivated to improve accounting processes because they sell their time. If you buy a monthly system that requires them to invoice your customers, they'll want to figure out ways to implement software and better document flow to cut down on that time. This assumes that they have a set monthly fee. That way, you get what you want and they are able to improve their internal hourly rate over time by getting more efficient for you. Its a win/win.
3. When you on board
If you bring on an in-house employee, the stress is on you to get all the paperwork, HR, training, support, and more that that employee needs. You are forced to do a ton of work that you don't have time for.
If you use an outsourced accounting service, they do all of that work and once again treat you like the customer.
Here's my question for you. When was the last time your heard your in-house bookkeeper say "Is there anything else I can do for you today?" My guess is that you haven't.