When you’re running an accounting office, it's easy to become inundated with paper, forms, and email attachments, especially when tax season rolls around. To prevent your office from becoming completely overwhelmed, you have to organize not only the stacks of forms and paperwork, but also the electronic files that accompany client communications online.
Document management software can be a great solution for accounting offices. With the right paperless office solution, you can organize all of your electronic and paper documents and keep them close at hand so you can easily pull up client files during the height of tax season or at any other time of the year, which can increase office productivity.
While going paperless can significantly improve office operations, it's important to choose the right solution since there are a number of document management software options available. These three tips can help you select the solution that's right for your accounting office.
- Find a solution that makes scanning simple. Going paperless gives accounting offices a way to consolidate all their paper and electronic files in one central location for more efficient, effective operations. But until recently, the scanning process posed a major challenge: Office managers were reluctant to commit to scanning in old paper files and storing electronic files on a new system because of the time and labor costs involved.
Technology advances have removed this barrier. With the right solution, scanning is now fully automated, and accounting office personnel can create organized, keyword-searchable files in just seconds. With the right solution, even large stacks of paper and caches of electronic files can be processed automatically and sent to a central repository, where they are organized according to user preferences (by client name, date, or any other field) and stored for easy retrieval by authorized staff.
- Choose a system that features intuitive, customizable file organization. In addition to concerns about scanning, some accounting office managers have also been reluctant to go paperless because they worry about how their files will be organized. And it's true that some paperless software systems have complex user interfaces, which can be difficult to learn and navigate, especially in smaller offices that don’t have fulltime technical support resources.
It doesn't have to be that way. Today, there are systems on the market that allow accounting offices to organize files in the cloud the same way they store paper files in the office—a central filing cabinet with customizable virtual drawers and folders. Make sure you select a solution that provides an intuitive organization system as well as robust keyword search capabilities that put receipts, files, tax returns, and other client data at your fingertips.
- Make sure your new system enables easy document editing. In an accounting office, it's important to be able to edit documents to accommodate last-minute changes. Look for a paperless solution that transforms forms, electronic and print documents into easily editable formats.
Also make sure your paperless office solution makes it simple to combine and separate files. Look for drag-and-drop features that let you move pages from one file to another and systems that allow you to scan new pages in for addition to existing files. It should be even easier than combining physical files to enable smooth, paper-free file manipulation.
When it's time to improve your accounting office operations, a paperless office solution can make a significant difference, allowing you to store, retrieve and edit files more efficiently than ever before. But before you make a decision on a paperless office solution, make sure you carefully assess your options.
About the author:
Jeff Pickard is president and CEO of Lucion Technologies, LLC, makers of FileCenter. He is a former attorney with the Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis and he also founded zCalc, LLC, a software company that served the needs of professionals in the estate and financial planning fields. He graduated cum laude from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.