Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Information and Service Economy | MSc program in Information and Service Management | 2016
Thesis number: 14781
Identification and ranking of selection criteria during the selection of an external accounting service provider among Finnish SMEs
|Title:||Identification and ranking of selection criteria during the selection of an external accounting service provider among Finnish SMEs|
|Year:||2016 Language: eng|
|Department:||Department of Information and Service Economy|
|Academic subject:||MSc program in Information and Service Management|
|Index terms:||palvelut; pk-yritykset; laskentatoimi; kirjanpito; ulkoistaminen; taloushallinto; arviointi; mittarit|
|Key terms:||accounting; accounting information systems; AIS; cloud; selection criteria; vendor selection; conjoint analysis; outsourcing; SMEs|
The goal of this study is to uncover and evaluate the importance of criteria that affects selection of an external accounting service provider by Finnish SMEs. Existing academic literature that explores outsourcing of accounting processes is rather limited and is mostly dedicated to the motivations behind outsourcing, types of processes outsourced, and relationship between a firm and an external provider. However, the way companies select accounting service providers is still unexplored.
This study aims to fill this gap by identifying a set of concrete criteria that affect SME's choice of an accounting service provider and ranking their importance. The study treats two components of the outsourcing decision - selection of the external accountant and selection of accounting information system - as a bundle. The first step of the research took form of a series of expert interviews a performed and the set of selection criteria is identified. After that, data from 165 respondents is collected through a choice-based conjoint (CBC) survey in order to determine relative importance of each criterion on the overall decision.
As a result of the study, seven selection criteria were identified: overall cost of the bundle, customer references, accountant's certification, level of personal service, service development, software usability, and software accessibility. The role of each criterion in the decision making process as well as preference towards levels within each criterion were determined using discrete choice experiment in the form of full profile choice-based conjoint analysis.
The results of the discrete choice experiment have shown that all seven criteria played significant role in the decision making process. The top three criteria were software usability, software accessibility and accountant's certification. The finding signals the high importance SMEs place on the accounting software as well as the level of professional expertise of the accountant. In the light of growing discussion about the shift in the accounting profession towards providing more advisory services, the results also showed that the traditional 'shoe-box' accounting is not attractive to SMEs while a certain pre-agreed amount of personal counselling service is slightly preferred to the dynamic when an accountant proactively provides advisory services to the client.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.