When Educational Testing Services (ETS) acquired Prometric from Thomson Corp. in 2007–the companies faced an immediate challenge. They had just four months to create a stand-alone finance and accounting system for Prometric. Previously, Baltimore-based Prometric relied on Thomson shared services. Further complicating the transition, Prometric, which specializes in computerized testing, is a for-profit company headquartered in Princeton, N.J. ETS, known for the SAT, ACT, MCAT and LSAT tests, is a nonprofit.

With limited time, ETS turned to Accenture BPO Services LLC , which is based in Wichita, Kan., to provide the staff and systems that are required for procurement, accounts payable, expense reporting, general accounting and financial reporting services, all supported by an Accenture proprietary enterprise resource planning (ERP) network. Accenture also contributes to back-office functions, including accounts payable and fixed assets, notes Prometric CFO Chris Derr. "They offered us a quick, ready response that couldn't be duplicated in-house," he says. The project was finished on time, allowing Prometric to supply ETS with its 2007 financial data. "It had to be done," says Derr. "There was no other option."

Speedy implementation is not an unusual request for medium-size companies, says Rob Sherman, president of Garden Grove, Calif.-based Vengroff, Williams and Associates Inc. (VWA). While the average life cycle at larger enterprise companies is nine months, mid-market executives increasingly expect and often get, 120-day turnarounds, he says. With 2007 revenue of $803 million, ETS is one of a growing number of mid-market companies reaching outside their companies for finance and accounting (FAO) services. With the global economy in chaos and credit pinched, CFOs face mounting pressures to slash costs, increase productivity and eliminate, or at least shrink, costly accounting errors and compliance breaches. Outsourcing provides the economies of scale, cutting-edge technology and best practices that can help mid-market companies achieve those objectives, says Katrina Menzigian, vice president of Everest Research Institute in Dallas.

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