Fifth, remember to consider innovative collaboration tools. For example, New River Innovation’s product Beyond415 can help with IRS Tax notices. The area of 1040 workpaper automation is maturing nicely with products like CCH Scan, Drake’s Copanion, Thomson Reuter’s Source Document Processing or TaxSort and SurePrep’s SPBinder or 1040Scan. Collaborative accounting continues to improve with changes in Intuit’s QuickBooks Online Accountant, AccountantsWorld Accounting Relief, Thomson Reuters Accounting CS or Xero. You’ll see changes in engagement managers this year as well.
Taking your paperless implementation to the next level
Going beyond a simple starting implementation for paperless takes initiative and the ability to take a project to a new, better level. “Paperless 2.0” moves beyond merely storing and retrieving documents. It examines how information of all types flows through an organization, seeks to revamp and automate workflow, data entry, and document management whenever practical. The profit and efficiency gains are far greater than with Paperless 1.0.
Begin to picture where your organization is with respect to: Collaborative accounting, Billing, Business Development, Engagement processing, Forms, Vendor bills, Time sheets, PTO requests, Approvals, Email archiving, Purchase orders, Employee expense reports, automated tax return processing, and exchanging client data via portals.
How many more areas can you name that you would improve? Choose your highest value services to improve first, and then look for the areas where you think you have the greatest inefficiencies. Improving the top 20% and the bottom 20% processes can make you far more effective and efficient quickly.
Before you start, list all of the areas you intend to improve, estimate the amount of time needed, any hard costs and the probable gain to be realized. Adjust your list to select and refine the tasks with the most impact. Ask for assistance from key managers, and plan for training for staff at all levels once the procedure has been updated and placed into your system, manual or automated. Review the outcome of the revision, and refine as necessary. Repeat on other items on the list. The typical accounting firm will have 15-25 procedures to refine, where industry businesses will have 75-150.
One final planning note: Don’t confuse efficiency for effectiveness. Consider your firm’s business plan and strategy to provide excellent, profitable client service. Look at revolutionary as well as evolutionary ideas to improve your firm. Sometimes stopping something that you are doing can be the most effective change of all. Gaining the insight to identify, create and provide a client service that has high value to the client can be a real game changer for your firm. Look for and eliminate unnecessary, redundant work. Look for opportunities to work smarter, not harder.
Wouldn’t you like to make significant improvements for your clients, your firm and yourself? The reward is great.