The accounting field has long turned to temporary staffing firms for assistance during peak workloads resulting from monthly, quarterly and year-end closings. However, as the labor market has tightened, the industry has increased its reliance on these firms for high-quality talent year round.
How do you find the right staffing service for your company and use it most effectively? The following suggestions can help you through the process.
* Identify your goals. Follow the same process that you would when launching any important project. Determine your short- and long-term objectives and clearly define these priorities. If you know exactly what you want, you will be better able to communicate these requirements to the staffing firm.
* Estimate the number of "person-hours" for each job function. For example, assume you have two projects. One requires 80 hours and the other will take 160 hours. Based on an eight-hour workday, the first project would require 10 business days to complete; the second, 20 days. This exercise will give you a more accurate assessment of your needs.
If a particular project requires a significant number of work hours in a relatively short period of time, don't forget to factor in overtime. Also, be aware of other considerations, such as staff vacation time, that may affect the availability of internal resources.
* Identify the types of skills required for each temporary assignment by asking yourself a few key questions. Does the assignment call for advanced technical expertise, management ability or a combination of both? Will the temporary professional need to have knowledge of specific software applications?
* Create a list of staffing firms. Consult colleagues for recommendations. Trade journals, newspaper classifieds, the Internet, and the Yellow Pages are good sources, as are local chambers of commerce and accounting associations. To pare down your list, identify those firms that most closely match your needs, particularly if you need a specialist. For example, if you have a wide variety of accounting requirements, focus only on those firms that can provide you with accounting and finance professionals at all levels versus those that supply only entry level, or conversely, only executive talent.
* Create a list of questions to ask each company. Your goal is to assess the firm's level of experience, area of specialization, screening process, internal staff capability, and quality control. The following are some...