Sainsbury's has confirmed it is close to completing changes required for its seven-year outsourcing deal with Accenture - as software specialists questioned the future of the traditional roles of accountants in business.
Sainsbury and Accenture announced the contract signing last month, and said this week the movement of 800 people, including the finance function, would be completed next month.
The deal highlights companies’ increasing shift towards outsourcing finance functions to firms including PwC, Arthur Andersen, Accenture and EDS.
Another deal announced last week will see PwC manage Kerr-McGee’s production and revenue accounting for the oil and gas company’s onshore exploration and production business.
Geoff Maclure, managing director of Tahola software, said this week that accountancy within companies is changing fast.
He added: ‘Two aspects of the profession are changing; firstly the service and secondly, the way in which that service is provided is changing.
‘As a result of outsourcing, the need to manage a team of financial controllers and clerks will disappear.
‘One large management consultancy says that many traditional roles will be outsourced – if they are not already. Taxation, statutory account production, and company secretarial functions are all already outsourced tasks.
‘Management accountants, if retained, will move under the control of the operating divisions. Companies will also replace some permanent finance staff with part-timers.’