If you have decided to outsource your business admin or bookkeeping, the next step is to choose a service provider. But researching, comparing, and choosing a business to outsource to can be overwhelming. So we have put together a list of the eight key questions you need to ask when assessing a service provider. 


Working through these will put you in a much better place to make a choice that is right for you and your business. This is an important decision because a successful outsourcing arrangement should be viewed as a partnership and not just a transaction. You will be trusting them with your business data, and in some cases, they will be representing your business to your customers. It can be time-consuming and costly - to your pocket and your brand - to frequently change your service provider.


Finding the right service provider will be a key part of your business growth and success. So take some time to consider these questions:

  1. What kind of business are they?
  2. What industry expertise do they have?
  3. What software can they use?
  4. What kind of support do they offer?
  5. Can they support your business needs now and in the future?
  6. Will your data be secure?
  7. How fast can they get started?
  8. Do they have good testimonials?


#1 What kind of business are they?

There are lots of different options when it comes to outsourcing - not all of them will be most suitable for your business. When you are looking at different service providers, consider the following:

  • Are they a sole trader or a business with employees? Working with a business that has a team of people to draw on can offer benefits in terms of having back up when people are sick and being able to utilise a wider pool of expertise.
  • Are they based in Australia? Using an overseas provider can offer cost benefits, but sometimes this is at the risk of lower quality service for you and your customers.
  • Do they specialise in only one area or offer a range of services? If you only want to outsource a very specific set of business activities (e.g. just your BAS preparation, or just your call answering, or just your social media management) then going for a specialised business might work in your favour. But there is also value in choosing a business that offers a full suite of business solutions across multiple areas. This way, as you grow and your needs change, you don’t need to engage multiple providers or switch over to someone else in the future.


#2 What industry expertise do they have?

It goes without saying that you need to work with someone who is highly qualified in the area of work you want to outsource. The higher the relevant qualification the better. Tertiary qualifications are a great indicator, but also look for additional relevant qualifications like being certified by software partners or registered as qualified BAS agents.


It also pays to look for someone who can combine qualifications with actual experience - not just in the general field, but specifically in your industry. Admin tasks for tradies can be very different to those of law firms, or not for profit organisations, or training organisations. Tax rules and accounting practices differ across industries, as well as across different types of business structures (e.g. sole traders vs companies vs partnerships vs trusts). Some software platforms are available for specific industries, others are used across industries but need to be set up in a way that meets specific requirements relevant to your business. 


The third thing to look for related to expertise is whether you feel like the provider can provide real-world advice that will be relevant to your business. Do they use lots of jargon that doesn’t mean much to you? Or can you see that they know how to communicate with and help a business like yours? If you are a sole trader or small business, you want to work with someone who gets the challenges you face and who can provide practical, realistic, tailored solutions. Not what works for companies with huge budgets. What works for you.


Lastly, check whether they provide content on their website (via a blog or downloadable docs) that demonstrate their expertise. Look for in-depth articles, checklists, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and guides to help you get a feel for their ability to meet your business needs.


#3 What software can they use?

The key to efficient admin and bookkeeping is using leading technology platforms that integrate and streamline all those time consuming, repetitive, fiddly tasks. 


Find out if the providers you are looking at are certified partners for any of the software you already use (e.g. Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks). If you aren’t already using software, choosing someone who is a certified partner can mean you might get access to discounts or bonuses for signing up through them. At the very least you can be confident that they will be able to get you set up quickly because they are very familiar with the platform.


If you use some kind of specialised software within your business, check if the service provider is willing to undertake additional training or certification to be able to use it in supporting your business needs. If not, then you will need to weigh up the pros and cons of using them but switching over to a different platform.


#4 What kind of support do they offer?

Feeling confident you are going to get the support you need is important to building a strong outsourcing partnership. You should find out if you will have access to a dedicated team member responsible for your business, or whether you will need to explain yourself to someone new every time you call.


Likewise, will you have access to backup support if someone is sick or on holidays? At Dream Admin we like to say that “Our team becomes your team”. So you don’t just get one person looking after your business tasks, but the support and expertise of our whole team when and if you need it.


#5 Can they support your business needs now and in the future?

Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, at different stages of growth and with different needs. Look for a provider that can meet your needs now, but also provides flexibility to change as your business needs change. You might not want to be locked into a contract for 12 months, you might want to dial your support up and down aligned with your business cycles. 


Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know - in the case of outsourcing business support you might not even realise certain tasks can be outsourced, or that there are alternative ways to manage your bookkeeping and admin. It is important to find a service provider who can help you grow through sharing their advice, insights and recommendations.


Ultimately, outsourcing should be considered a long term business partnership. Choose a provider who you feel is going to be personally invested in helping your business grow - not just ticking off tasks and sending you a bill for hours worked.


#6 Will your data be secure?

Outsourcing your bookkeeping or admin means giving an outside party access to some sensitive business information. The last thing you want is to be vulnerable to a cyber-attack or data breach.


Look for evidence that a service provider is using the most secure and encrypted technologies - not just for completing your business tasks but also in how they store data and communicate with you.


One of the ways to judge the security of your data is to check whether they use market-leading technology platforms because these have significant cybersecurity features built into them.


#7 How fast can they get started?

Let’s be honest, you aren’t looking to outsource your business admin and/or bookkeeping because you already have it under control. Right? Most likely you are drowning in paperwork or chasing unpaid invoices or losing jobs because you don’t get time to call people back.

So once you make the decision to hand a business task over to a service provider, you want it taken care of quickly. No long contract or set up processes.


Look for businesses that have well established onboarding processes and resources that make it clear what information you need to provide, and what actions you need to take, to complete the handover. Ask them directly how long it will take before they can be fully operational in handling your business tasks. 


Some services can be an immediate transition - maybe all you need to do is provide access to your existing software platform. Others can be more involved and take a few days, but the provider should have clear processes for what steps need to be completed and how long they should take.


#8 Do they have good testimonials?

Any business can put together a nice website that says all the right things. But the real test of what it feels like to work with them is whether they have clients who recommend them. When you are looking at testimonials keep in mind these considerations:

  • Do they have any testimonials publicly available? If you can’t find any, that might be a red flag, but you can also ask the business directly to share them with you
  • Are the testimonials positive?
  • Do the testimonials provide evidence of the key factors addressed above - their industry expertise and software capabilities, the support they offer, their ability to meet your needs?
  • Are the testimonials recent?
  • Do they sound like the kind of people you want to work with?


You might even reach out to some others in your industry or local area to see what service providers they recommend and what it was like to work with them.


Taking the step to outsource your admin or bookkeeping is a big move forward. Choosing the right outsourcing partner will help make the transition as smooth and efficient as possible, leaving you feeling confident your business tasks are in the right hands while you can focus your core work. 


If you keep these eight questions in mind while you are researching and comparing providers, you will be in a much better place to make a choice that is right for you.

If you want to know more about how Dream Admin Services can support your bookkeeping or admin needs, book in for a free, no obligation chat with Managing Director Tennille Skelly.