Trends in hiring a project accountant - The Finance Team

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Trends in hiring a project accountant

In the volatile business environment that exists in South Africa, the demand for quality, experienced project accountants is higher than ever, however, finding these quality project accountants is becoming increasingly challenging for employers as they need staff that are able to combine functional expertise with experience to be able to turn available data into strategic guidance for their businesses.

Project accountants need to have up-to-date technical proficiency combined with a depth of experience and necessary qualifications, to be able to tackle the financial challenges faced by today’s small business owner / entrepreneur and larger corporates. They must have the experience and skill to be able to work effectively across a variety of departments within a business, build rapport with colleagues and provide clear and detailed financial reports for the business or specific project they are contacted to. Versatility in application methods and good communication skills are both key factors that should be taken into consideration when looking to engage a project accountant.

Why use a project accountant?

The trend in hiring project accountants is gaining momentum as companies and company leadership are becoming increasingly wary of making costly hiring mistakes. More and more companies are relying on companies that outsource project accountants to help handle workload spikes and gain specialised expertise that may not exist internally. By using project accountants from a reputable financial outsource provider, companies are able to mitigate their risk somewhat as project accountants from these outsourcing companies are carefully chosen for their knowledge and experience within a variety of industries. Most businesses that require ad hoc project work done are certainly not interested in sourcing an expensive full time resource that lies unutilised for large portions of the year.

When you should consider using a project accountant?

  1. When the current financial department is struggling with workload volumes.
  2. When the company is embarking on a growth strategy.
  3. When the growth curve for products and services increases.
  4. When there is an opportunity for growth and expansion in your industry or related industries, and you decide that now is the time to take a calculated risk to expand.
  5. You determine that your employee’s existing job skills and knowledge are acceptable for your company’s current level of productivity, but to expand, you’ll need either increased skills and knowledge or a new and different set of skills and knowledge.
  6. A specific project needs to be completed and you don’t internally possess the required skill to complete the project or you do possess the skill but that skill is currently working at maximum capacity and the timing of the project can’t wait for the situation to stabilise.

Companies are often reluctant to engage the services of an outsourced project accountant as they assume that it will take the incumbent a while to understand their business. This reluctance is unfounded as the project accountants provided by reputable outsource financial consultancies have had years of experience across a multitude of industries. If anything, using an outsourced project accountant will add value to the company as they are able to provide insights gained over the course of their career, while at the same time, up skilling the members of your current finance team.

Can a project account be engaged on a part time or interim basis?

The answer to this is a resounding YES! Project accountants can be engaged on a part time or interim basis. Companies may only need to use a project accountant for two days a week as the work load does not justify brining in a full time resource. Having said this, it is imperative that there is a clear understanding of what the project accountant is expected to achieve. Bringing someone into the business simply because you may think you need an extra body is foolish and will result in poor performance, decreased productivity and decreased morale within your current finance department. It is very important for company management to manage the process with their current finance department and ensure they understand that the outsourced project accountant is there to assist them, lessen the work load and achieve improved results.

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