“Bookkeeping is often considered quite a low-end, entry-level task. But we believe it is the single most important part of accountancy,” says Kieran James, Managing Director at Stryde, an accountancy practice with “extreme” ambitions for growth.

The reason, he explains, is that bookkeeping is the first in a four-step proven process developed by the firm.

“The process requires that the quality of the data is really good. That’s why we train all our new starters at every level in our approach to bookkeeping to ensure that the data coming into the process is high-quality, complete and consistent.”

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Getting the data right

However, because bookkeeping is widely regarded as an entry-level task, Stryde has to overcome customers’ perception that the service is of low value.

“When customers get bookkeepers themselves, the quality tends to be relatively low, so we expect them to pay us to do that.

“What we found was that when we looked at the quality in the UK and looked at the quality in India for what is a reasonable entry-level price, we could get a very good quality person who could do the bookkeeping at the standard needed in India.

“Especially when you talk about advisory, people love advisory, they love forward-thinking, they love all that. But you cannot do that without getting the data right.

“We have deliberately built a fundamental foundation of really good quality bookkeeping.”

Offshoring and outsourcing are learning processes

Kieran describes it as having been a learning process when first looking to offshore work.

“We looked at the Philippines, we looked at India. Obviously, there was an element of ‘could we save on cost?’.

“One of the key lessons we learned very quickly is that there is a difference between ‘offshoring’ and ‘outsourcing’.

“Unfortunately, our first foray into offshoring was through an outsourcing firm and we quickly found that we lacked the level of support services that we needed.

“When that relationship ended, we decided that we needed to go with a provider on the basis of a recommendation rather than risking something that would not work out.

“I saw that Graeme Tennick and a couple of other people that I know in the industry have used GI Outsourcing, so the trust of that made us take a leap of faith to use you,” said Kieran.

He added: “GI Outsourcing is probably on the higher side but, in terms of value, I’d say the value is definitely there.

“If you look at two providers side-by-side on paper, you might make the mistake of thinking it’s a case of horses for courses, but in reality, the service you get from GI Outsourcing is worlds apart.”

Recruitment benefits

In 2022, Stryde needed to recruit for four different roles. For each of those roles, the firm was open to employing someone directly in the UK or using GI Outsourcing’s dedicated resource model, which sees a specific individual employed in India for the role.

“An example of one of those roles was that in England, we had 112 CVs, of which we put 12 to interview, of which six turned up, and we had one that was nearly good enough.

“Compare that with GI Outsourcing – we had one person, one CV, one interview and they were the best of the 113.”

Onboarding made easy

Kieran said that once Stryde had signed the contract, the onboarding process was in fact more straightforward than would have been the case for a UK member of staff without all the HR and payroll requirements.

“We are a remote business 100 per cent in any case, so the onboarding process doesn’t change.

“We cover with our GI Outsourcing team members the same training around anti-money laundering, cyber security, and data protection.

“We use Xero, QuickBooks and FreeAgent, so every single person who works for us, whether in the UK or India will need to go through their qualifications for that software,” says Kieran.

Final thoughts

Kieran says that the first thing people need to know when they start looking at an outsourcing or offshoring process is to decide on whether they want to offshore or whether they want to outsource.

His second piece of advice is that firms looking to outsource should view outsourcing or offshoring as another way of accessing the expertise they need and not simply as a cost-saving measure compared to recruiting someone in the UK.

Finally, he says that firms using outsourcing or offshoring should treat people working through these relationships as though they were employed members of staff and try to minimise the differences.

He said: “Every day without fail we book half an hour for an online social, including the members of our team employed through GI Outsourcing.”

Stryde is now looking to grow quickly, says Kieran, and that is going to involve recruitment.

“Ultimately, with GI Outsourcing, the pool of talent we can access is much bigger than it would have been otherwise,” Kieran concluded.