Taking the (Note) Books Out of Bookkeeping

Aug 5th 2015
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After 18 years as a CFO and another 20 years in the accounting and bookkeeping business, I have learned that staying ahead of the competition only happens when you keep up with technology. For example, while keeping the books for my father's Roche Bros. chain of supermarkets 20 years ago, I used pagers to helps store produce managers place their daily purchase orders, allowing him to offer the freshest fruits and vegetables in New England.

Years later, cloud computing allowed me to quickly expand my own business, Remote Quality Bookkeeping (RQB), by eliminating hours wasted in traffic each day driving from customer to customer to pick up their financial records.

But in more recent years, there has been one very big part of my business that stubbornly resisted technology: customer end-of-year reports. In order to speed up compiling customer financial records into these vital reports, my business needed a way to automate organizing dozens of different documents unique to each customer into a legal document immune to audit. Last year, we built that better mousetrap, and now RQB is reaping the rewards.

Through an enterprise content management software system called Laserfiche and the construction of an innovative customer records classification system, RQB has expanded its cloud-based business by more than 30 percent – from 180 clients to 240 clients – virtually overnight, with expectations of much more to come. The software is dramatically speeding up the process of sorting client accounting records into the end-of-year reports RQB mails out at tax time. Those reports will now be shipped on computer CDs, saving RQB $25 to $50 per customer on ring-binder notebooks, along with as-yet uncalculated savings on reduced packing, shipping, and copier costs.

Together, the new software and indexing system is allowing RQB to leverage the use of cloud-computing records collection in ways only applicable to electronic images. Prior to Laserfiche, all incoming client records were stored in computer servers to be later printed, sorted, and snapped into color-coded folders in ring-binder notebooks. Now, those incoming files are immediately sorted into a computerized folder structure RQB created within Laserfiche. This virtual folder structure makes it much easier to visualize and assess pending workloads, as well as making for a much more efficient assignment of those workloads to RQB staff.

But the real magic is the automated indexing and filing that is now possible through the new software via an innovative records classification system RQB built with Laserfiche integrations consultant William Peyton of Boston-based IP Digital Inc.

As incoming customer files start to accumulate, staff are assigned to sort through the records and forward them to designated folders within that classification system. Where this process was once paper-driven, with staff printing out each record and placing it in the color-coded folders, employees are now able to automatically select designated folders within the classification system through the use of drop-down menu options William and I built into the indexing system over the course of 2014.

This automated designation process allows my staffers to sort incoming client records with just a couple of mouse clicks while significantly reducing the chance of misfiling those records in the process. When it is time to compile the end-of-year reports, we now just plug in the customer's name and the required records are automatically pulled from the computerized subfolders. This is allowing for an economy of scale to onboarding new customers, which has been the Gordian knot to significantly expanding our business.

The software also allows for many other automations of RQB's business processes. If further action is needed on filed records (e.g., reconciling income statements), these records can be so designated at the time of indexing, further improving the efficiency of workload assignment. Other workflows built into the new system send reminders to RQB staff when a customer has not submitted scheduled paperwork, as well as reminders to clients to submit scheduled payroll records.

All the efficiency and automation is making onboarding new clients much easier for RQB. It will also replace the bulky ring-binder notebooks with color tabs that RQB used in the past to compile year-end reports, saving the company approximately $50,000 a year. Clients will appreciate the CDs, not just for ease of use and storage, but also for ease of access to any record contained on them. Pulling up any one document within those CDs will simply be a matter of typing keywords into a file-search command, as software also allows each of the document images to be retrieved by conducting a search for any word or numerals they contain.

All these benefits are cutting RQB's costs to where it is perfectly positioned to rapidly expand, particularly in the franchise market. The sophisticated software system will allow RQB to onboard new franchise customers – which often have similar, but never identical, bookkeeping needs – at a price that will be very hard for others in the industry to match. Moreover, the software application is allowing RQB to process incoming electronic customer records in powerful ways that paper-based systems cannot, and we are discovering new efficiencies every day.

This will make RQB a force to reckon with in the franchise bookkeeping business. It also makes it much easier to take on new customers of any sort – even mousetrap makers.

About the author:
Mark Kilduff is president of Remote Quality Bookkeeping, a cloud-based bookkeeping solution to help small to medium-sized businesses run their day-to-day operations. Mark can be reached at [email protected].

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