Accounting firms and their clients are turning to Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) to replace paper files and documents in an office and enable users to send electronic documents through the same steps a paper document or file would follow. An EDMS is primarily used to increase efficiency and eliminate the costly inconsistencies that are common in a paper-based process.
For instance, most accounting firms provide some combination of accounting, auditing, and tax services. So, a true EDMS not only needs to provide document storage, but must also provide workflow capabilities for all services. Along the way it must also protect documents so that only authorized people can view, edit and/or delete documents based on the individual’s access rights. An example might be a client’s financial records.
These records should be kept confidential and an audit trail kept of all access. An EDMS is a step up from the point solutions like spreadsheets and word processors as it is a firm wide solution. It must be easy and straightforward to use and ideally integrate with other applications the office is already using with minimum effort.
The goal of many accounting firms is to be as efficient as possible when dealing with clients and their associated paperwork and an EDMS can help a firm streamline the document flow throughout the office. Below are the five most common ways a DMS can help generate more profitability in a business.
Benefit #1 - Instant Access
One of the largest benefits to using an EDMS is the ability to access documents at any time, from anywhere. No more running back and forth to the file cabinet or asking an assistant to track down a relevant file or document. Think of the time savings that can be felt across the firm when it only takes seconds to find any document.
With instant access, two users can work on the same client simultaneously and have access to all relevant documentation. For example, if a client calls with a question while a another staff member is preparing that client’s tax documents, the person handling the question can still access the necessary documents in the folder to answer the question.
A web interface adds another layer of accessibility by allowing you to lookup your documents from any computer anywhere, so you no longer have to copy and carry around large briefcases or file folders of documents. If a client calls late or while you are out of the office, it’s simple to find the document they are asking about and answer their questions on the spot.
This secure and instant access of documents saves huge amounts of time and cuts down on call backs to clients as you can pull up documents while on the phone with them. Customers are also impressed with how quickly you can respond to their needs.
Benefit #2 - Electronic Workflow
Workflow has been around since man has done any sort of ‘work’. Any process that takes place involves workflow. Whether that process is limited to a single individual or multiple people, a series of steps is completed to formulate the workflow process. Every organization has some sort of document workflow process in use.
Whether that document workflow consists of client records, annual reports, email, snail mail, or other documents, workflow of documents occurs every single day. Once the realization regarding how often document workflow occurs each day, one begins to consider ways to improve and streamline the document workflow process so as to maximize time and cost savings.
The easiest way to implement electronic workflow is to select a software package that can mimic the way documents are currently routed physically.
Benefit #3 - Search and Retrieval Capabilities
Many firms today store documents across three or four separate locations: centralized paper-based file cabinets, paper-based file cabinets in employee’s offices, folders on shared server drives, and local desktop hard drives.