The same thing is true when it comes to document management strategies for your clients. You have to know enough about how to help a small business with their documents and workflow to be able to make a reasonable recommendation. Part of the issue may be that you do not have the documents in your practice automated enough to understand how to make recommendations to your clients. Part of the issue may be that you don’t believe this is an area that you should assist with. However, if you have document management running in your practice with tools like Office Tools Pro, Thomson Reuters’ FileCabinet CS, Doc.It or CCH’s ProSystem fx Document, you probably have an understanding of what the benefits of document management and portals are to the small business. Unfortunately, these products are geared toward tax and accounting professionals and aren’t particularly a good fit for industry or small business. However, if you are using the AccountantsWorld document management product to run your practice, you can actually make this capability available to your clients, as well. Both you and the client benefit from using the same system. As well, products like eFileCabinet, SmartVault or Cabinet NG may provide enough capability to the small business to solve their initial document management needs. See the review of document management products in this issue on pages 6-14, as well as Doug Sleeter’s column on pages 18-19. And keep a look out for the July 2010 issue where document storage products will be covered.
Finally, internal controls, fraud prevention and procedures are certainly areas where most firms can be of some assistance. As workflow products become easier to use or more universal, you may find a significant opportunity to help your clients, as well. For example, Conexxus or XCM have workflow and sign-off capabilities that can readily apply to internal audit departments. Even though you may be familiar with XCM from a tax and accounting firm perspective, many new capabilities have been added to support industry businesses. Internal audit departments report that Conexxus gives much greater control over documentation and procedures and can reduce the cost of interfacing to external audit teams in addition to reducing the closing cycle times. These types of tools can make small businesses more profitable by saving time and money. See pages 3 and 15-17 for more on workflow.
As you reflect on how to help your clients this year, consider the benefits of assisting them with automating their accounting at the right level, adding document management and applying workflow technology. Your clients will appreciate and value your expertise even more for helping them become more efficient and profitable than they do for keeping them out of trouble with your compliance work. And as added side benefits, you will find the work more satisfying and profitable, while potentially helping small businesses help our economy prosper.