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How to Transition from In-House to Outsourced Accounting

May 19th, 2022 | 6 min. read

By Brian Paulson

If there's one thing that we all can agree on, it's that it's nice to have someone else do your taxes - but actually taking it one step further and outsourcing all of your accounting can seem like an obstacle that most of us would rather delay. However, there does come a time for most small businesses when it makes more sense to outsource.

For more than 50 years, CSI Accounting & Payroll has served thousands of small business clients. After talking to so many business owners, we've found that there are some common scenarios when it comes to outsourcing accounting for the first time. They tend to fall under these two categories:

Not many small businesses have their own internal accountant and still consider outsourcing unless there's an issue with employee retention, their quality of work, or it's too much for them to handle on their own. (In fact, it costs less to outsource accounting than to host an accountant in-house.)


Some small businesses will have an internal bookkeeper and also use an external annual accountant, or maybe the owner even does the bookkeeping themselves. In these cases, they might outsource for some of the same reasons, but they're also seeking the year-round tax strategy and advice that only a monthly accountant can provide.

Transitions are tricky, but we hope that we can relieve your nerves a little bit by discussing:

  • Choosing the right small business accounting firm for you
  • Planning ahead for the transition
  • Setting the standards for your new accounting firm

Stack of folders showing lots of information needed to transition to outsourced accounting

3 Steps to Transition From In-House to Outsourced Accounting

1.) Work with the right financial partner.

Nobody is going to burn a bridge if they don't know where they're going next! To help you separate the quality accounting firms from the ones that under-deliver, read this list of characteristics to look for.

A good accountant is also going to be in tune with your needs from the start, which means they’ll be able to help you with the transition process. If they aren’t helpful during this stage, it’s a sign that they aren’t the right partners for your business.

Your new acccounting firm should proactively make your life easier by making the transition as simple, streamlined, and stress-free as possible. Many of CSI's clients find a sense of relief after the change has been made and express the feeling that they should have made the commitment sooner.

2.) Plan ahead and budget enough time.

When you start monthly accounting, you want to have timely advice and your financial statements in your hands as soon as possible. We understand the urgency! It's not difficult to overdraw a bank account if you don't have eyes on it, not to mention missing payments and facing late fees.

Unfortunately, the switch is going to take time. Plan to spend 2-4 weeks preparing your accounts and documents to hand them over to a new accountant. Try to schedule your transition for a time when your company isn’t overwhelmed with other tasks, and be sure your whole team is on board with it. For example, they may be able to assist you with identifying certain purchases or gathering paperwork and receipts.

Once everything is in your new accountant's hands, they should be able to give you an estimate how long it will take to begin monthly accounting with them. If you're behind on bookkeeping or taxes, your accountant needs to complete them before they can move forward with future financial statements. Generally, one year’s worth of back taxes will take 60-90 daysRead more about the timeline of back work and monthly accounting.

Be wary of accountants who make salesy promises, such as “It’ll be a breeze.” or “It’ll take no time!” - this is a sign that they aren’t serious about your business's financials. And if they actually do take no time? Uh oh. You might want to be skeptical of the quality of their work.

3.) Set goals and know your obstacles.

Know what your pain points are. Know why you want to outsource. Know what you're nervous about - and tell your new accountant how they can help you resolve it.

As you enter this new business relationship, set clear expectations from the start. You should list everything that frustrates you about your accounting at the moment, then make a separate list of your financial goals. By letting your accountant know your issues and desired outcomes at the very beginning, you’ll see greater results sooner.

In established accounting firms, there will be meetings in place to set you up for success. An accountant should understand your business inside and out, help you establish best practices, and outline a plan to work toward your goals.

Consider Outsourcing With CSI Accounting & Payroll

Whether you have an in-house accountant or use an in-house bookkeeper with an external annual accountant, you know that there are some things that only a monthly accountant can help you with.

Outsourcing for the first time can be a big step! To some, big steps are exciting. To others, big steps are overwhelming.

Now that you know more about what to look for when choosing the right small business accounting firm for you, how much time it might take to make the transition, and how to voice concerns and set standards with your new accountant, we hope you're leaning more toward the exciting side of things.

If you're interested in having a discussion to see if we can be a good fit for you, click the button below for a free consultation.



Not ready to have a conversation yet? Be sure you know if the cost of monthly accounting lines up with your business! Click the button below to learn more about the variables that make up your monthly fee.

cost monthly accounting fee

Brian Paulson

Brian began working at CSI in 1996, and he purchased the business in 2002. As Owner, his primary role is in the management and growth of the firm. Since 2002, the firm has more than quadrupled in size. In 2009, Brian started CSI’s payroll service to complement CSI’s accounting and tax services. Brian received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, with a double major in Accounting and Financial Management. He’s a member of both the National Society for Tax Professionals and the National Society for Accountants, and he serves on the board of directors for the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants, where he was once president. Brian also serves on the business advisory council for Opportunity Partners, an organization that helps people with disabilities find employment. He’s also contributed to several business books, including Six Steps to Small Business Success and The Lean Mean Business Machine. Fun Fact: To help put himself through college, he used student loans, delivered pizzas, and worked summers in a salmon processing plant in Alaska.