What is Outsourced Bookkeeping?

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.
A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.

Outsourced bookkeeping describes a business practice of paying a professional bookkeeper who is not a staff employee to provide accounting and bookkeeping services. Often, this practice is done to save money, space and time. Also referred to as accounting outsourcing, outsourced bookkeeping allows companies the freedom to utilize a professional bookkeeper without having to actually employ an individual or an entire professional accounting team.

Businesses interested in saving money often conclude that it is easier to do so when certain services are outsourced. By retaining the services of an independent contractor or using a company that provides professional bookkeeping services, businesses do not have to pay for, among other things, employee salaries, employee insurance costs and training costs and do not have to supply physical office space to access accounting services. Outsourced bookkeeping gives small and large companies greater business model flexibility without requiring them to compromise quality.

Outsourced bookkeeping can be used on a full-time, part-time or as needed basis. Many bookkeeping and accounting services are also accessible during non-traditional office hours, which entrepreneurs and others inclined to working these hours often find convenient. Some outsourced bookkeeping operations are even virtually based, which means that more time is spent on the actual accounting services needed than traveling for meetings to discuss services.

In using outsourced bookkeeping services, a business may choose the level of help it needs and yet maintain as much or as little control over its financial books as is desired. For instance, a company may outsource accounting services to handle tax returns, audits and payroll services, but may still choose to handle smaller bookkeeping tasks, such as online bill payments, internally. Outsourced bookkeeping services can be designed to match a company’s level of comfort with its level of bookkeeping needs, which makes outsourcing an attractive business model to many.

Even though by using outsourced bookkeeping services business owners can focus more energy on growing a business and less energy on bookkeeping details, there is still a level of responsibility that rests on the shoulders of business owners. Experts warn that companies must still oversee all outsourced work, as well as be sure that internal and external guidelines, rules and deadlines are being responsibly met. Accounting and bookkeeping outsourcing does not shift responsibility for these activities solely to the service provider, but is only intended to help ease the workload of certain businesses. The responsibility for accuracy, timely reporting to outside agencies and factual information ultimately remains the responsibility of the company purchasing outsourced services.

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    • A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.
      A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.