Securing Your Bookkeeping System: Removing the Roadblocks to Hiring or Outsourcing Your Accounting

Your Team + Security = An Entrepreneurs Peace of Mind

Old thought paradigms and roadblocks in “sharing” data often stop entrepreneurs and small business owners in adding team members, especially team members that have access to sensitive information, like their accounting. Securing your bookkeeping might seem out of reach, and some of these roadblocks also involve limitations of the software.  What keeps business owners stuck, though, is the mind shifts required which include trust issues, releasing control, and a whole lot of security issues.  These mind shift changes are not an easy fix and we suggest addressing one at a time to allow for the changes to become natural and easy for both the business owner and team member.

Create a Written Process
Connie admits this was a difficult process to stop and create.  She knew, before hiring her team, that accounting professionals would require written processes and checklists to be successful.  What she found difficult was getting the process out of her head onto paper.  Roadblocks arose around perfectionism and self-esteem – what if the team questioned the process or what if it wasn’t complete.  Shifting her thought pattern to accept these written processes as a living document that would change, but knowing you had to start somewhere, created an ease to capture the document.  So Connie started with a mind dump of what she “does”, and captured the bulk of that in a written document.  Then she passed that along to the next team member who then enhanced it; after the document cycled the through the team, she worked with them through one more step to create a finished process.  Your end result will be a living document that you and your empowered team believes in and will execute.  Bringing on new team members after this will be a snap!

Build Your Trust
First step, use your gut instinct when it comes to trust.  If it’s screaming “no”, you are better off to not working with that person and keep looking for a different team member.  If you ignore the “no” it will constantly come up in your awareness.  No trust in a relationship means you will be double checking and micro managing your team members, which just means more work for you, which contradicts the purpose of the team.

Second step, do your due diligence so you feel secure. Look at insurance needs. You’ll want to look at what your business requires for insurance, and if you are using an outsourced solution, what insurance your contractor is carrying, and if it’s enough for you. This should be a no-brainer by now: check references.  Also, do background checks.

Finally, whoever your new team member is, include regular check-in’s to review work. Answer questions and be aware of what is being done for your company.  The biggest roadblock for security issues happens when business owners ignore their accounting and hand over all control to their new team member.  There needs to be check and balances in your process above.  Keep your awareness on your money but trust that your team member will handle the day-to-day activities.

Now Add in Security Levels
Choose accounting tools that allow multiple logins; this will help you secure your informatoin based on the user access required.  Look for tools that allow you to define what each team member will have access to and what they can do within the tool.  Why is all this “control” important?  It allows the two areas above to be incorporated within your accounting tool:

  1. Processes – allowing team members access to certain areas of the tool allows them to follow the written process you created.  Using the check and balances you created within your process will allow you to continue being aware of what’s going on within your company without micro managing the process.
  2. Trust – employees that have full access to everything and every password usually means the business owner has stepped out of the “ownership” of their own accounting.  When a business owner is first starting out with a team, having secured access allows for easier training and review process.  Eventually the business may add a middle management layer that will take over this review process, which again can be accomplished by allowing access but not “control” over the accounting tools.

Look for tools that allow for:

Multiple logins – using shared logins for your entire team makes it difficult when your team changes or when someone just can’t seem to remember the access codes.  This is resolved by choosing a tool that allows for multiple unique logins assigned by team member.

Secure access levels – define what each team member has access to and what they can or can’t do within your accounting tool.  Follow your written process and find solutions that allow you to create a data entry or clerk level; reviewer or management level; and an owner all access pass.  For extra credit include a special pass for your tax professional and your accounting tool is now ready for your entire financial team.

For all the items listed above we recommend that you move your accounting solution from your stand-alone desktop or make shift server into a cloud hosted environment or a browser based solution.  Both options have their own unique benefits that we’ll cover in a future blog post.  If you can’t wait we recommend you take a look at the following.  These are the tools the ADI team uses internally.

Cloud9 Hosted Environment – ADI recommendation and server in the cloud

Xero – browser based accounting tool – paperless document processing and basic storage

SmartVault – secure cloud based file storage and sharing

TeamWorkPM – project tracking solution with internal chat and time tracking

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