How does outsourced bookkeeping work?

It can be hard to find the right bookkeeper for your business. How can you find someone who you can trust, who is reliable, and has experience in your field? Outsourced bookkeeping is the answer. How does outsourced accounting work? How can a company find a good bookkeeping firm? Here’s how.

You can grant read-only access to financial information

You must first grant your outsourced bookkeeper full access to all of your financial information. It may be a little scary, but this is the only way a bookkeeper can work on your accounts. Most accounting platforms and apps allow you to grant access to other users without giving them complete permissions.

Access to accounting platform

You can add a bookkeeper into your Quickbooks Online or Xero file by selecting the Manage Users tab and choosing the level of access. Most of our clients select “accountant”. The bookkeeper’s name and email are added, then they receive an email confirming their access.

It’s a little more difficult if you use a desktop application. You can either email the bookkeeper a copy of your financial data or download it as a portable file.

Statements of bank and credit cards

The bookkeeper will need to have access to the credit card and banking institutions once you give them access to your accounts. The majority of national and regional banks allow you to add someone as a “read-only” user to your account. This means that the bookkeeper will be able to view monthly statements and check images, but not access your funds. This is an important step that allows the bookkeeper to work without needing to contact you each time they require something from your bank.

Other necessary documents and applications

You may have to supply a few more documents depending on the way you run your business.


Do you use a third party payroll provider? The bookkeeper may need these payroll reports if you use a third-party provider.

Tax documents:

 Your bookkeeper may need your tax documents from the previous year to reconcile your accounts.

You should share your receipts if you keep them in a box, or on an online tool such as Expensify.

Online bill payment:

 You can transfer this to your bookkeeper, or they can do it for you.

Other apps such as Shopify, PayPal and Stripe are also available. The bookkeeper should be able to access anything that has to do with the finances of your business.

This is dependent on the business but you should be ready to share these documents with your virtual bookkeeper.

Digital transition from paper

Your outsourced  bookkeeper will encourage digitization of any non-digital processes, such as paper receipts, invoices, expense tracking and so on. Many of these apps and tools are free or low-cost. The efficiency gained by using an outsourced high-quality bookkeeper is largely due to the fact that they can move everything (which should be nearly everything) into digital format. You also get the benefit of having a digital trail of everything that happens in your business.

Set mutual expectations

Next step is easy. Each business is unique and requires a different amount of attention. Do you want your bookkeeper to work every day? Do you want to receive cash flow reports weekly or monthly? What do you expect to receive at the end each month?

How often would you like to contact your outsourced  bookkeeper? When should your bookkeeper contact you? How does this process work? When do your communication requirements increase?

To align on these points, it’s a good idea to call the bookkeeper for a kickoff call.

Define the process

The bookkeeper may have questions regarding which expenses are categorized under which accounts, particularly when the business is just getting started. Set up a process to communicate with them and tell them when you’ll answer their questions.

We can manage this process in a few different ways.

Google Docs:

 the bookkeeper asks you questions and you respond to them in a predetermined, regular cadence. The list is continuous, so previous questions and their answers will remain until the number of monthly questions decreases.


 Bookkeepers will use reports to help you determine which accounts were used. Reports will tell you what code each transaction has been assigned to. This allows you to quickly sort through the reports and identify any transactions that need reassignment.

There are many softwares that can help you track and store receipts. These sites allow bookkeepers to be added as users, allowing them to see receipts and which account they should be coded.

You will still be in control even though the bookkeeper is remote.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Communication is the key to a successful client-bookkeeper relationship, regardless of whether your bookkeeper lives next door or is six states away. Decide what method of communication works best for you. Email? Weekly phone calls or video conferences? Video conferences? Video conferences? This is especially important when a new employee is starting out, so that they can do their work quickly and efficiently. (And not wait on you to answer.) Be sure to resolve issues as soon as possible and revisit expectations every few months to ensure both parties are meeting the goals.

As you can see, outsourcing bookkeeping is actually very simple. You can hire the best bookkeepers in your field at reasonable rates and only pay for the hours you use.


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