Don’t Forget the Accountants!

accountantThe decision to implement a managed services program (MSP), or to replace an existing MSP vendor, should not be taken lightly. Your workforce is the heartbeat of an organization and any disruption can bring it to its knees. With all the details to consider, it is tempting to think that accounting is the least of your worries, but think again. If its workforce is a company’s heartbeat, then money (and accounting) is its lifeblood. It courses through every aspect of the company, including human resources, and is a critical component to consider when securing the success of a MSP program. By keeping the needs of your accountant in mind you can streamline the MSP process at every step including selecting the right MSP vendor, smoothly implementing the program and managing it successfully.

“Keeping accounting in mind” starts with the selection of a MSP vendor. The goal is to find a provider that is not just mindful of your accounting systems and processes, but is committed to learning as much as possible about these systems up front in order to fully integrate their systems with your own. A deep understanding of the human resources industry and accounting is also crucial as well as the tax knowledge to properly address relevant sales tax issues and foreign tax components.

How do you know you are selecting a vendor that is interested in “getting the accounting right?”

  • Are they asking detailed questions about your billing and payment processes?
  • Do they have a dedicated billing team to respond to questions from your managers and suppliers?
  • Are they asking questions about different sales tax and foreign tax scenarios?
  • Do they discuss the processing of billing adjustments and applicable discounts?

PREMIUM CONTENT: MSP RFP Template

The benefit of paying close attention to accounting was apparent during a RFP for a large, global pharmaceutical company. By learning as much as possible about the company’s internal accounting system, our team was able to anticipate possible challenges. This prior knowledge allowed our team to put safeguards in place that reduced billing and payment bottlenecks before the program was even put into place.

Implementation is another key milestone where accounting can make all the difference. As part of your MSP change management plan, make sure you set aside time for your accounts payable and accounting departments to work closely with your vendor. During this transition they will need to review billing, payment and adjustment processes in detail. They will need to thoroughly review all contingent worker data to anticipate challenges and create appropriate solutions.  Taking the time to address accounting needs during implementation will ensure a smooth billing and payment process that is ready to go the first week of billing.

A prime example of this pro-active approach took place during implementation for a large nutritional supplement company. We met regularly with the company’s accounts payable department during implementation to conduct a detailed audit of bill rates and special billing codes. This gave the company confidence that our invoicing was accurate and that they didn’t have to hold up payment of invoices for their own internal review.The result was a seamless integration with no interruption in services, including billing.

The importance of involving accounting does not end at implementation. It is at the program management stage that the synergy between your company and your vendor will play its greatest role. Miscommunication can quickly mushroom out of control and nothing is worse than having a question and not knowing who has the answers; a fact that is only complicated when money is in the mix. The goal? A vendor that understands your business so well that they can act as an extension of your own internal team. This seamless approach to MSP accounting management means less frustration for everyone involved.

Over our 30 plus years in the workforce management industry, we have integrated the needs of accounting into every aspect of our solutions. This includes assigning a billing support analyst to each client. These dedicated resources work as a single point of contact for all the users of the program; providing timely responses to vendor billing and payment inquiries. A global client in the airline industry is a perfect example of this approach in action. By working closely with the client’s finance and accounting departments our team reconciles accounting data in the client’s timekeeping system versus the data in our system. As a result we are able to deliver clean and accurate invoices each month; contributing to the overall success of the program.

Getting out in front of accounting issues is the best way to navigate the MSP process. Choosing the right vendor and working closely with them is the only way to ensure a healthy program that not only meets your needs, but anticipates them. It may seem like one more detail on an already crowded plate, but attention now can avoid costly problems in the future. Taking the time to carefully consider accounting issues during implementation and beyond is your best chance to keep your accounting system, and your organization, humming along.

MORE: How to Get the Most out of Your RFP

Jeff Kornreich
Jeff Kornreich has served as the Agile•1 senior VP for 11 years, overseeing various financial functions.

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