As businesses evolve their accounting responsibilities become more complex and time-consuming. Ambitious companies end up spending a lot more time and focus on accounting when they would rather concentrate on core skills and long-term goals instead. Relying on a bookkeeper makes things immediately easier and more accurate too. And working with an outsourced bookkeeper is typically much less expensive than bringing on a specialized employee.

Partnering with an outsourced bookkeeper empowers these companies to hand off routine workloads while getting strategic insights from a trusted expert. However, before making any final choice it’s important to interview the leading contenders to determine whether a bookkeeper can meet all of your needs. Make sure you get all the answers you require by asking these specific questions:

1. What is the Scope of the Services You Offer?

Some bookkeepers offer a very limited number of services while others operate like a complete accounting department. Begin by determining what kind of assistance you want and need, both now and down the road. Then look for a bookkeeper who can meet your exact requirements

2. What Service Levels Can You Commit To?:

It’s not enough for bookkeepers to offer “stellar service.” Rather, they should be able to clearly articulate what service levels they can offer in terms of delivery times and accuracy benchmarks.

3. Are You An Individual or Part of a Team?

Some bookkeepers are a one-man operation while others work within large and diverse teams. One is not necessarily better than the other, but it’s important to understand the depth and breadth of resources at your bookkeeper’s disposal.

4. What Security Practices Do You Follow?

Find out what measures a prospective bookkeeper takes to ensure digital security and personal privacy. Follow up by exploring what happens if security is breached for any reason.

5. What Sort of Credentials Do You Have?

Only partner with someone who can prove they have relevant degrees, certifications, and accomplishments. If you work with Quickbooks you will want to work with a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor

6. How Does Your Pricing Structure Work?

Learn what pricing structure is in place, and don’t hesitate to bring up hidden costs and punitive fees. Once you have a clear understanding of costs, compare those to the cost of in-house accounting and to the fees of other prospective bookkeepers.

7. How Familiar Are Your With My Industry?

Explore what kind of industry-specific expertise they have, plus whether they have worked with companies that have the same size, structure, or accounting agenda as your own.

8. What is Your Level of Expertise?

Determining what kind you need depends on your motives for hiring a bookkeeper. A generalist will be able to handle routine workloads, but a specialist can help with the more confusing or consequential aspects of accounting.

9. Where is the Work Performed? 

Having one on site makes it easier to exchange information and ask questions, but it also eats up office space. Establish where and when the work is performed, plus how you prefer to exchange information.

10 : Who Will I Work With Directly?

The bookkeeper you interview may not be the one you actually work with directly. On the contrary, some firms channel clients through a maze of junior associates and complex phone trees. Establishing who your point of contact is helps you understand what kind of service a bookkeeper actually provides.

11. Who “Owns” My Data?

Bookkeepers create important data for your company, but who “owns” this data if the relationship expires? Don’t let there be any uncertainty about your rights to data and the details of accessing it.