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A Time to Rest … Just Not Too Long

Column: My Perspective

From the July 2009 Issue

Tax season is but a distant memory. We are getting our lives back on track
… taking vacations and enjoying our friends and families. Nonetheless,
now is the time to move your firm forward by thinking about new strategies and
getting up to speed on new software and technologies. This issue provides information
specific to tax document automation, which is a BIG deal in relation to enhancing
workflow efficiency and deserves serious consideration. Allow me to offer an

Why does Wal-Mart have so many checkout lanes if so many are closed most of
the year? The answer: So they will be prepared for their busiest time —
Christmas. When consumers are ready to spend their money, Wal-Mart is ready
to handle the volume and bring in the cash. Tax season is very much the same
— firms queue lines of tax customers each season and need to be ready
to handle the rush. To be successful, firms must have appropriate systems in
place to efficiently manage the elevated workload. In order to have work/life
balance during tax season, it is imperative that firms implement core processes
that enable ultimate efficiency.

Many new technologies are available to help enhance a firm’s tax workflow.
First, many firms are investing in multi-function scanners in order to implement
front-end scanning of source documents. Scanning on the front end eliminates
manual sorting and data entry; it also allows a firm to assign an administrative
employee to the task, freeing preparers to focus on higher billable work. With
scanned documents in hand, firms can then take advantage of leading SaaS tax
document automation systems. Leading systems identify forms with exceptional
accuracy and organize them within a single bookmarked PDF. Preparers can then
use the electronic document to prepare returns. No paper is required. Once returns
are complete, the digital file can be electronically filed within the firm’s
document management system. The efficiency gains associated with an automated
tax document process are phenomenal, and the solutions are cost effective. It’s
win-win all around.

This issue’s tax document automation feature highlights several possible
solutions to help you build your tax document automation process. The key is
to understand the different solutions available and identify those that are
a good fit for your firm. Additionally, as you think about tax document automation,
be sure to consider portals. This is the direction the profession is moving,
providing ultimate convenience for clients and offering a system that supports
24/7 communication. Think about portals for a moment. You complete a tax return;
you instantly upload the return to a private, secure portal; your client is
notified that the tax return is ready for review.

This equates to review and delivery in seconds, not hours. And it equates to
a completely paperless process. Clients can review their returns in the convenience
of their homes or offices. If changes are required, they can be applied quickly
and easily via the Internet. Clients need not make the trip to your office.
To complete the process, clients sign the e-file form and pay you using a debit/credit
card or EFT. If clients need a copy of their completed return after-the-fact,
it is instantly accessible from their portal to download and/or print.

Accomplishing an automated tax document workflow is easy because the technologies
exist. As you read this month’s issue, think about your firm’s processes,
existing technologies and capabilities. Then make a list of the competencies
and tools required to move your firm forward. I will be giving presentations
all over the country this year on The Next Generation Accounting Firm —
based on my own tested and proven practice model. The information contained
within this presentation shows professionals how to create and maintain the
firm’s core system (via new technologies and best practices), so they
can work on their firms and not just in them.

For more information, visit
and review the list of presentation dates and locations for one near you. As
a practicing tax and accounting professional, I understand the challenges firms
face and the need for increased workflow efficiency, which is why I am dedicated
to supplying the profession with as much information as possible on how to operate
their practices like a well oiled machine and enjoy true work/life balance.


See inside July 2009 issue

The Time is Right for Professional Web-Based Tax Prep

Column: Tips & Tricks


Tax Document Automation

The Next Step in Optimizing Workflow