Even though I did a column on outsourcing last week, here's another one because I believe that CPA firms and their clients will increasingly turn to outsourcing in one way or another.

It was recently reported that McDonald's was looking into using remote call centers to take customer orders in an effort to improve service at its drive-thrus. McDonald's Chief Executive, Jim Skinner, was quoted at a presentation at the Bear Stearns Retail, Restaurants & Apparel Conference in New York. "If you're in L.A.... and you hear a person with a North Dakota accent taking your order, you'll know what we're up to," he reported.

The idea is that the call center professionals, with their strong communication skills, would boost order accuracy and speed up the time it takes customers to get in and out of the drive-thrus.

At first glance, I laughed at the idea. Telling someone in North Dakota to hold the ketchup and the lettuce on my Big Mac, that I intend to eat in two minutes in my car in Brooklyn, N.Y., boggled my mind. But on second thought, it makes sense to consider.

I wouldn't expect the problems experienced at other call centers as McDonald's center wouldn't be acting as a technical support center trying to solve complicated product problems, but simply taking orders to a very limited menu. Additionally, by now everyone worldwide knows what a Big Mac is, and with the low cost of Internet-based telephone calls, the overall expense wouldn't be that great for a company the size of McDonald's.

Okay, as far as I know, CPA firms don't have drive-thrus yet and your clients might look at you funny if you gave them the news item of what McDonald's is considering. But I expect that over the next couple of years a lot of professional firms and businesses, using their imaginations and thinking outside the box, will be experiencing with many variations of outsourcing. If your firm is going to get seriously involved in business consulting for your clients, a good part of your efforts will be focused on promoting greater efficiency in those clients' operation. Part of that will be advising on outsourcing. Chew on that along with your cheeseburger.

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