Clients can access the firm-branded portal from the firm’s website or from links in emails sent by staff. Since the system is designed to follow an email-like workflow, the portal is also unique in its file structure, with previously sent items housed in an Outlook inbox format and with users able to view sender, date and subject lines. As CPA SafeMail is not intended for long-term storage of files, it does not offer foldering capabilities.
Through either the email utilities or portal, clients and firm staff can share files bi-directionally, with the firm having control over user rights and the ability to help reset a client password.
Portal Capabilities - 4.5 Stars
Both the email and portal functions in CPA SafeMail can be used to send and share any kind of files. When sending via the email function, it wraps all of the files (documents, spreadsheets, bookkeeping data files) into attachments on a single PDF, and it can convert them to PDFs, as well. This allows for the overall sent file to be encrypted and password protected, then opened and returned to their normal file state. Essentially, the function works similarly to a zipped collection of files with password protection, but without the lingering effects of individually password-protecting each of the files.
Files stored on the portal component of the system are displayed as messages received from the firm, and with little folder management and structure control. The firm can set up the system to notify users on either the client or firm side as to when documents have been shared, opened or moved, but the program does not offer live simultaneous collaboration on documents.
CPA SafeMail includes full control over automated file retention and deletion settings, with the default time on the portal being 30 days. However, the firm can set individual files or all files to expire at different ranges, or to be saved indefinitely in the portal. Security access rights are maintained by the firm, which can also set password strength levels.
Technical Aspects - 4.25 Stars
There are no storage maximums and no bandwidth restrictions on portal use or document emailing. Instead, the firm and users can store as much as they need for as long as they need it. The program can be used on all fully web-enabled devices, and it is supported on IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari browsers.
CPA SafeMail does not directly integrate with professional tax and accounting programs, but through right-click menus on most file management programs and in Windows, firm users can easily select the send-to option and access the Outlook plug-in feature. This allows for quickly attaching files or even entire folders to emails that will be completely encrypted and password protected. 4
Help/Support - 4 Stars
Users on the accounting firm side of the program have access to basic Help options on the cPaperless support website, including multiple how-to videos and the ability to submit trouble tickets or find live support contact information. It is limited on support documentation. Toll-free live support is included in pricing and is available Monday through Saturday. 4
Summary & Pricing
CPA SafeMail takes a different approach to client collaboration and portals, basing it on the workflow of email, which makes it intuitive for firm users and, just as important, simple for clients. The system can be used alongside any tax, accounting and document management applications and was specifically designed for helping firms receive source documents from clients and deliver returns and other documents to their clients. Pricing is based on the modules chosen by the firm and the number of users. The Outlook Plug-In only, which offers direct, protected file sharing without the portals, costs $100 per year for a single user and $800 per year for a 10-person firm. The Outlook Plug-In plus the Automated Password Manager costs $1,000 per year for a 10-person firm. Adding the Client Portals to the bundle brings the total to $1,800 for the same number of staff. Additional users can be added with discounted rates; full pricing details are available on the vendor’s website.