Use Collaboration Technology to Improve Your Firm

Woman having video chat with man5 sets of tools that will help.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Bridging the Gap

Amid all the discussion of improving understanding and bridging the gap in a somewhat humanistic sense, it’s important to also address the purely mechanical aspects of communication.

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For firms to optimize efficiency and client service as well as to overcome generational differences, they must select and standardize the tools they use for communication. This is another area where shared knowledge contributes to performance in addition to a harmonious culture.
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Mandate Training Programs, Accountability

Three young businessmen in office training sessionProcesses make it easier to achieve results.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

For many firms, the ability to identify, standardize and implement best practices is the last remaining competitive advantage in business today as communications tools and access to technology have become available to everyone.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Centralize Contact Administration | Standardize Your QuickBooks Support | Remote Banking Offers Instant ROI | How to Stop ‘Overauditing’ | Devil's in the Details of Digital File Delivery
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To take advantage of the continuous stream of innovation and opportunities, firms must adopt a “learning culture.” This requires a formal process to capture and standardize best practices in every department within the firm so that every person can take advantage of them.
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Centralize Contact Administration

Woman entering information on computerNew information needs to be shared.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Many firms today maintain contact information within multiple applications such as practice management, Outlook, tax systems, and other marketing and CRM (customer relationship management) programs.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Standardize Your QuickBooks Support | Portals are Vital for Secure File Transfer | Deliver All Reports Digitally
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Too often, a significant amount of time is wasted in firms pulling contact information together, reconciling and verifying lists for mailings, invitations and even organizers. It is critical that firms centralize the updating of contact information for consistency.
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Standardize Your QuickBooks Support

Key with word "license" for teethHow many versions do you support ... and WHY?

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

In the United States, QuickBooks is the most dominant small business accounting product on the market and will be the application that the majority of the firm’s clients use. Therefore, it is obvious that the firm must become proficient with supporting QuickBooks.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Portals are Vital for Secure File Transfer | Why You Should Process AP Digitally | Revamp Daily T&E Entry | Is Your Tax Workflow Digital Yet? | The 4 Types of Firm Knowledge
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Unfortunately, one of the biggest wastes of time is when firms support too many older versions of the software, which often leads to incompatibilities that can corrupt the database and make it unusable for clients. Fixing these errors creates lost time that is seldom charged to clients and instead impacts the profitability on these jobs. Firms have found that it is significantly more productive to support no more than the three most recent versions and to either require the client to update their software or include the cost within the monthly service fee.
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Portals are Vital for Secure File Transfer

Spiral of binary characters emerging from laptop screenLook for notifications and audit trails.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

When dealing with digital files, the most effective way to transfer them is electronically over the Internet either with secured email or through a portal.

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Many firms have emailed clients copies of tax returns and financial statements over the years. Unfortunately, this is not always the most secure method as the firm does not have control of the various Internet service providers and the relay servers between the firm’s email server and the client’s email account.
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Why You Should Process AP Digitally

Person using credit card to pay bill onlineDon't forget to use naming conventions.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Processing accounts payable is another of the manually intensive processes within the firm’s administrative department that can be significantly streamlined through digital processes.

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Consider how many “touches” a single payable creates: receipt of the invoice, timing of payment in a folder, writing the check and attaching the stub, sending it to an owner for signature, filing a copy of check with backup in its own folder, and stuffing, sealing and sending the check to the vendor. Now imagine doing this a hundred times per month, every month. Imagine the volume of physical accounts payable vendor files both onsite and in storage, that can be eliminated by storing these images digitally.
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Remote Banking Offers Instant ROI

Person writing check with pen and checkbookBonus: Your bank fees may decrease.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

One of the easiest processes to convert to paperless with an immediate ROI is the firm’s system for depositing client checks.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Deliver All Reports Digitally | Revamp Daily T&E Entry | How and Why to Establish Firm Procedures Manuals | Is Your Tax Workflow Digital Yet? | The 4 Types of Firm Knowledge | Back Up Your Bandwidth
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Manually receiving and physically going to the bank to deposit checks can be time-consuming and subject to too many errors. The manual procedure requires firms open mail on a daily basis, make copies to file in a binder, complete deposit slips and then send a person physically to the bank, which can easily take a half hour every day, five days per week, 52 weeks per year.
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