Going Once, Going Twice: A New Paradigm for Accounting Professionals

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A new company is trying to change the way businesses find and hire accounting, auditing and information technology services.

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“The Green Brim service represents a win-win situation for all the parties involved,” Robert Stewart, President and chief executive officer (CEO), states.

Companies (buyers) benefit from competitive bidding and detailed provider history, while Providers (providers) gain through direct access to interested buyers and the leverage provided by our consolidated marketing efforts.”

Hoping to challenge industry conventions that are both antiquated and inefficient, the Green Brim, LLC, has chosen as a company name a word-play on the age-old image of a bean-counting accountant sporting a green visor and feather quill.

In the tradition of eBay and other online auctions, the Green Brim relies on participant feedback to increase consumer awareness and reduce transaction risk. More than just an online marketplace, the Green Brim provides users with a sense of community through discussion forums, blogs, and helpful resources. A beta-release of the Green Brim service is scheduled to become available to businesses and professionals on September 1, 2006, at www.greenbrim.com/registration1.aspx.

“The feedback mechanism is a powerful tool that provides both buyers and providers with an objective assessment of participant quality, integrity and value,” Stewart explains.

Based on the description, the Green Brim sounds similar to online talent auctions sites such as Guru.com and Elance.com, which have been popular among creative professionals, such as writers, photographers, graphic designers and computer programmers, for years. From the providers' perspective, the trick is to sign up early and build-up a good reputation before competition becomes intense. This means regularly updating and changing the professional profile viewed by buyers, as well as bidding on numerous projects, including, probably some you don't really want. Buyers ideally have a choice of providers to choose from, of course, depending on the restrictions defined in the bid request, this may not always be true. The trick, therefore, is to create a project description that generates interest but not too much. It also means buyers need to have a much better idea of exactly what they need, since most providers will not exceed their project scope without additional payment. Some auction sites also allow electronic payments which makes life much easier on both buyer and provider.

Most of the current auctions are project based, so they have established starting and ending dates, as well as a defined deliverable. Not all businesses think or operate in a way that supports project based work, however, so auctions are not appropriate for everyone. Adding to the challenge is the fact that many providers prefer projects that do not include working onsite, although some providers prefer working onsite whenever possible. This raises the question of expenses for everything from phone calls to equipment.. Buyers should also give careful consideration to how much interaction they expect someone who is brought in to work on a single project to have with other staff members, customers and subject matter experts.

Finally, it should be noted that in all auctions, whether they are project employment or merchandise, the parties involved bear the responsibility for checking each other out to ensure both know what they are getting into and with whom. Online service auctions can be, as Stewart said, a win-win situation, but they are not without risks.

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