There has been a lot written in recent times about the risks surrounding outsourcing with particular emphasis on the new privacy laws as well as the general protection of data and the access to personal information of clients.
The recent article published in the annual software guide published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia made particular references to these issues and the risks that Australian accounting practices face when confronting the issue of outsourcing.
However, there is an alternative that eliminates or greatly reduces these risks and that alternative is “in-sourcing”. What do we mean by in-sourcing?
In-sourcing is the process by which a member of staff or contractor accesses your server by use of Remote Access Connection and works on your server to undertake the various tasks that need to be undertaken. The administrator of the practice’s network sets the rights and access restrictions of the person logging in to the server and no data can be transferred from the home server to the remote user’s computer unless these permissions are allowed.
The benefits of in-sourcing are that the person using the remote access connection can be located anywhere that there is a quality internet connection, their connection and the files that they access can be monitored by the network administrator, access is restricted to only the areas that relate to the work being performed and there is no transfer of data from the network to the remote user. Under this process the remote user must use the software provided by the host and the host can dictate how and when the work is to be performed.
There are many that would raise concerns, although data is not transferred, the remote user can still use the information accessed for purposes other than for the reasons of completing a task set by the practice. This is possible and so it is paramount that any in-source provider is the subject of the same level of scrutiny in assessing their suitability and reliability. A quality in-source provider would have systems and processes in place that guarantee the security and quality concerns of any potential user.
Mind you it is also possible that staff working in your office could access client information for non-professional, indeed illegal purposes. Most firms have systems and processes to protect data from firm staff, but they are not completely foolproof.
When talking in-source, this can be by people working in a secure center overseas, or people working from their home in Australia. Many firms already have domestic in-source arrangements, some have good security controls for the data accessed by the domestic in-source people and some don’t.
Regardless of the system, outsource, in-source based overseas, in-source based in Australia, or indeed staff based in your office, all firms need to ensure access to data is protected and where possible limited. Strong security of client and firm data must be maintained so no one can transfer data to another party.
A quality in-source provider can provide real benefits to your practice without compromising quality, privacy or control.