Any transition in business practices feels intimidating and possibly overwhelming. That’s because business functions don’t operate independently. Accounts receivable can’t stop for sales training, and inventory can’t halt for infrastructure improvements. But what about when it’s a transition in your accounting – the figurative nerve center of your business? Well, that can feel downright terrifying. But it doesn’t need to.
With many businesses – from the smallest Mom and Pop shops to large corporations – transitioning from limited-range, in-house bookkeeping to virtual accounting, these transitions are stressful. And yes, they are survivable. Here are some tips to help you keep your head and finances above water when you undergo this growth in your company’s financial health.
Wait, that’s the reason you’re transitioning to a virtual accounting firm in the first place, right? True, but you’ll give them a running start with a few hours spent organizing prior to the transition. Many virtual accounting firms provide you a list of essential documents to be provided during the transition. If at all possible, try and organize those piles of paper into sensible stacks by type and file as chronological as possible. Get digital records in one place. This allows a virtual accounting firm to quickly assess all information for formatting and saves you from answering multiple calls asking for documents or figures. If your firm doesn’t already have a checklist, ask your team contact what initial documents you should provide, such as tax information, payroll forms, etc. to get them on their way.
Meet with Your Team
Speaking of your team, it’s time to really get your relationship down the road too. While you surely had many general questions for each other when selecting your firm, now is the time to get down to specifics. Create a list of questions you have from your end that you’ll need answered from exact timing, report formatting, etc. In addition, be prepared to clarify for your team any issues regarding your business cycle, information on taxes, such as extensions filed and any areas of financial anxiety you anticipate during or after the transition. You’re family now. It’s time to bring out the good, the bad and the ugly. Talk about what you like and dislike about your current system and what keeps you up at night about your business’ financial future. Your team is only as good as you allow them to be.
Prepare Your Banking System
Many people ramp up access to sensitive systems such as online banking, unless you’ve already determined that your virtual accounting team will be allowed to conduct banking transactions on your behalf. If you’re not comfortable to that point, make certain that you can still provide read-only access to banking records. You may even be able to create a secondary log-in for your team. This is especially important if your books are massively behind and the team may need to reach back for months and months of information.
While your transition may appear seamless on the outside, it’s never a bad idea to notify vendors or employees that you’re going through a transition in your banking and/or payroll process. If set up properly, you shouldn’t see any delays, but they may notice electronic payments on a different date or from a different source. A blanket letter letting those you do business with know of the change and that they should not expect any disruptions allows you to avoid unanticipated confusion. Also, a little advance courtesy goes a long way in maintaining strong relationships.
While any change in a major function of your business can cause anxiety, a little preparation allows you to quickly start your route to a more organized and timely virtual accounting system.