We will be visiting the topic of DMS and portal integration in upcoming issues of The CPA Technology Advisor when we review document management and document storage systems. In the meantime, if you begin working on your portal strategy, keep this concept in mind. Your DMS and portal solution should be part of a comprehensive strategy.
No discussion of a technology initiative is complete without addressing the cost issue. The licensing costs are going to be based primarily on two factors: the number of client/user login accounts required and the amount of storage required. I am a little reluctant to try to provide cost estimates because a number of factors need to be included in the budgeting of the portal, such as training and setup, business process design, and a communication campaign to inform and educate your clients on the value. At this point, suffice it to say that the cost of deploying a portal should be easy to justify, if it is done properly. In the long term, the portal should evolve to be a source of recurring revenue and a true profit center based more on your information system and less on personal effort. The firms that understand this potential will be the ultimate winners in terms of client loyalty and profitability.
We have covered a lot of information about portals in this article. The main point I hope you will take away is that the evolution of client portals is still at a very early stage. However, the technology is evolving rapidly, and the time is right to begin establishing the foundation of your portal strategy. This initiative will have a higher rate of success if you plan for your portal to evolve over an extended period, rather than trying to come out of the gate with a feature-loaded portal solution. We will be visiting this topic from various perspectives in the near future and in our April 29 Free CPE webcast … so stay tuned!