Column: Technology in Practice
June 2011 Online Exclusive
In most firms, the internal administrative department is among the last to adopt less paper technologies because the focus of most firms is on tax and audit production. Having said that, there are a lot of opportunities to update administrative processes to take advantage of today’s “less paper” technologies, and many have a very short ROI. This article will take a look at 10 opportunities firms should consider in order to optimize their administrative department today.
1. Digital Paystub Delivery: Many firms spend a significant amount of time stuffing paystubs into envelopes and delivering them to employees who might take a quick look and then either shred the document or store it in a drawer to dispose of at a later time. The majority of today’s payroll systems can deliver paystubs digitally via a secured portal or private email account. This process reduces the amount of manual handling for both the firm and the employee and delivers the information in a more timely fashion.
2. Integrate Expense Reimbursement with Payroll: We often see 10% or more of the checks written by a firm having to do with reimbursements of personnel expense reports, with some firms processing them it as often as weekly. When these checks are smaller amounts, they tend to go into coat pockets or get set aside for when the individual has time to go to the bank. This can delay deposits and put them on the firm’s “outstanding” check list, with some checks being lost or misplaced and creating additional administrative processes. By reimbursing these checks within the normal payroll cycle as a non-taxable reimbursement, the amounts can be direct deposited so they are immediately available to the employee, and the firm reduces the number of checks written, which in turn reduces their transaction fees with their banks.
3. Process Expense Reports through Practice Management: Instead of filling out manual or Excel-based expense reports where the information also has to be keyed into Practice Management, train your personnel to enter all expenses daily into Practice Management at the same time they are entering their time. They can then generate the expense report from within Practice Management and attach the receipts for routing and approval. Training personnel to be comfortable scanning in receipts and attaching them to a PDF version of the expense report will allow the entire document to be routed via email. Please note that the submission deadlines have to be backed up to allow for the approval process to be completed and entered into the payroll system on a timely basis.
4. Utilize Remote CheckScan for Deposits: The process that many firms go through when the mail arrives is often a site to see where depositing checks becomes a priority before the bank closes for the day. This is often one of the most manually intensive administrative processes because after the checks arrive they are often copied, deposit slips made (and stored by different departments), and a person physically delivers them to the bank before closing time. Instead of constantly rushing, most banks today provide scanners to the firm for a minor monthly fee to allow firms to scan in the check in their own office and have it deposited up to 6:00 p.m. or later. The bank provides a summary image of all the checks, which can then be routed to necessary parties via email and then stored in the firm’s banking directory. After 30 to 60 days, the firm shreds the batch of checks, which saves a lot of time overall compared to going to the bank, and also eliminates the manual filing of all those check copies.