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COVID-19 and the leap forward to digital and outsourced professional services

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For many NFP organisations, a much-needed technological shift will be made possible by the right professional advice and cloud technology that can optimise access to data and information.

A recent report by the Australian Information Industry Association highlights that, “The COVID-19 crisis has created a window into the future of life and work. It has brought into sharp relief that this future will be underpinned by technology.”

There is no doubt that those who fail to embrace technology across all facets of their not-for-profit or charity will struggle to remain viable and resilient in the future. Investments in IT resources were needed within a short timeframe to manage operational requirements when the pandemic began, and take up of technology will remain essential throughout the ‘planning for recovery’ phase and beyond.

To obtain the expertise required to manage the digital take-up, it makes sense for many NFP organisations to outsource accounting services to professionals. Outsourced professional services will also be a viable and preferred path for senior management and board level strategic planning.

Now is the right time to capitalise on the momentum for change and review the benefits that technology plus professional advice can bring to key functions within the organisation.

When assessing outsourced accounting services, organisations should take on board the following key points:

      • Embracing technology will ensure that staff can continue to communicate, work and transact. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a steep learning curve for employees and volunteers and the embrace of technology has been a major focus of that learning. It means many more people have begun to realise the benefits that technology can bring in terms of efficiencies, convenience and relevance, so keep staff on the technology learning curve in the future.
      • Addressing cybersecurity is critical to ensure that risk is managed throughout the outsourced service relationship. For example, Hopscotch Accounting utilises cloud accounting solutions and we have detailed security protocols including two-factor authentication, a mandatory policy to use strong passwords, risk strategies ensuring best practice at all times, and more.
      • Adopting cloud accounting technology that has been optimised for the needs of individual NFPs and charities empowers the organisation. Cloud accounting technology allows staff and management to access real time data, which in turn enhances decision making.
      • Outsourcing tasks in different areas across the organisation can achieve significant efficiencies. This is particularly relevant for NFPs and charities looking to offset the cost of employing new permanent staff as government job subsidies decline or end.
      • Outsourcing financial tasks to a professional team of accountants boosts an organisation’s capacity. It enables staff to meet operational peaks and troughs, as these tasks can be addressed within the right timeframe. While many countries continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic, Australian companies like Hopscotch Accounting are well placed to provide continuity of service as we have relatively stable conditions in Australia and already have the right protocols in place to manage any current or future risk.
      • Succession planning and service consistency is boosted by outsourcing services to an offsite team. COVID-19 and the impact of absenteeism, as a result of sudden illness or mobility restrictions due to lockdowns, is assisted when not-for-profits and charities can rely on an off-site team of professionals who can attend to tasks and issues that may arise within very short timeframes.
      • Outsourcing accounting services empowers organisations to utilise the full advantages of government support measures. Currently, government rules are fluid and reactive to changing conditions related to the health and wellbeing of our society. Outsourced accounting services can also address compliance requirements in a way that enhances the ongoing viability of the organisation. For example, Hopscotch Accounting is staffed by a team of Chartered Accountants who keep up to date with all government/regulatory developments that are relevant to our clients.
      • Our NFP and charity clients came into the COVID-19 crisis in an empowered position, as they already had in place outsourced accounting systems and processes. It meant they were familiar with monitoring cashflow, staffing, inventory and more in real time and without physical meetings. We already had worked with them to ensure they were kept informed of government measures so they had the information at hand to apply for the government incentives and stimulus offered for a limited time in response to the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a disruptive event that will change the face of how all organisations operate. Those who use this time to harness new ways of working by embracing digital technology and outsourced professional services will increase their resilience to manage the bumpy road to recovery.

To help you find the best outsourced accounting team we have developed a helpful free checklist that you can download here.

Brendan Lucas, CA
Hopscotch Accounting

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