Skip to main content

Firm Management

2017 Review of Document Management & Storage Systems

It’s been estimated that nearly 20 percent of an employee’s time is spent searching for documents. To make matters even worse, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 7.5 percent of documents in an office are simply lost. Not misplaced, or on someone’s ...


It’s been estimated that nearly 20 percent of an employee’s time is spent searching for documents. To make matters even worse, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 7.5 percent of documents in an office are simply lost. Not misplaced, or on someone’s desk, but lost. Forever. In fact, the Wall Street Journal has estimated that for every twenty documents processed in an average business, one is lost or misfiled daily.

While larger accounting firms have fully embraced the paperless office, many smaller firms continue to struggle with the overwhelming number of documents that an accounting firm produces. One of the most common misconceptions is that document storage and management is designed for larger firms. While larger firms can see the most benefit from employing a document storage/management system, it’s also true that even the smallest firms can reap benefits from implementing a paperless document storage/management system including a more organized office. Even the most organized office loses documents.

In an accounting firm, the entire process is paper-driven, with employees often sharing files and documents on a daily basis. While you may be the most meticulous person in the world; always ensuring that any file or document is always returned to its original location, your co-workers may not be. Your office file clerk may have misfiled a document, your co-worker may take a file home and forget to return it. Your boss may have a file on her desk, mixed in with other papers. A good document management system allows you to place those documents in storage electronically, ensuring easy access and eliminating the need to worry about misplacing or losing documents. And with a solid document management solution, there are numerous safeguards put in place to ensure that unauthorized access is not permitted, and that files safeguarded against edits and changes.

We can also talk about time. Who wouldn’t like to save some time? If you sat down and really calculated the amount of time that can be spent searching for lost documents, you’d be astonished. Or maybe you wouldn’t. Every document in an accounting firm is important, so when one goes missing, staff can spend an inordinate amount of time searching for it. What happens is instead of working to bring in more business, you’re spending your time searching for a lost document. Instead of entering data or assisting with client returns, your support staff is…looking for lost documents. Wouldn’t you rather have your staff be productive instead of searching file cabinets for a document that is likely never to be found?

Stop wasting time and money copying documents. Instead, with a document storage and management system in place, those that need the document can simply access it from the system. No refiling, no copying needed.

Safeguarding confidential documents is necessary for all businesses, but particularly accounting firms that handle confidential financial information for their clients on a daily basis. You can try locking a cabinet, but for every locked cabinet there is a key, which can usually be obtained fairly easily. And don’t forget the ability to safeguard those documents is also required if a catastrophic event occurs. If a hurricane floods your office tomorrow, will you still have your documents stored safely? Or will they be washed away in the flood?

The office of today looks nothing like the office of 25 years ago. Staff work from home, from hotel rooms, from conference room floors, even from their client’s office. Sometimes they even work from their office. And they all need to be able to access documents. With a document storage and management system in place, those users will be able to access the files they need from wherever they are.

Both document storage and document management products were reviewed in this issue. We’ve included a separate chart for both, highlighting the features and functionality you would most likely desire when looking for one of these systems. While the document storage and document management are very similar in many ways, document management systems typically offer more advanced features.

The Document Storage products reviewed include (see the comparative features chart):

The Document Management products reviewed in this issue include (see the comparative features chart):

We also looked at one additional related system: Personable ScanWriter.

These products vary widely in some respects; with some available as a stand-alone application, while others are designed as part of a comprehensive workflow management solution. It’s also important to ensure that initial system setup is completed properly, with all system users trained to access and utilize the system properly.

Many of these products offer a free demo, so users can try them out and decide what works (and what doesn’t work) for them. While setting up a document management application can take some initial time, the subsequent hours saved by utilizing such a system will begin to be realized immediately.

Wouldn’t it be nice to come in to work without a stack of papers on your desk? It’s entirely possible with document storage and document management systems.       

See inside December 2017

The 2017 Most Powerful Women in Accounting

This month we announced the winners of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting awards. This annual celebration recognizes women throughout the profession who are making a measurable difference in the success of the accounting profession itself as ...


ALTER Your Path: 5 Steps to Becoming a Consultant

As we try to keep up in today’s fast-paced, disruptive world, we need to remember we are extremely valuable. We have a fundamental understanding of how business works. Yes, it ties back to debit and credits, but today we don’t need to worry so much ...