Optimize Scanning Procedures

Woman scanning a documentFirst front-end scanning, then OCR.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

For the next few years it is anticipated that accounting firm clients will deliver the majority of their organizers and supporting tax documents to the firm in a physical format.

MORE: Why a Digital Tax Workflow System is Vital | SURVEY: 72% of Firms Annotate PDFs | SURVEY: 67% Turn Client Documents into PDFs | How 53% of Firms Use Intranets to Work Smarter | Check Your Bandwidth | Microsoft Office 201x vs. Office 365 | How the Cloud Plays into Scheduled Server Replacement | Monitor Real Estate: More IS Better
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To utilize this information in a paperless environment, it must be effectively scanned and managed at the lowest possible cost. Early paperless adopters scanned the tax return and the supporting documents at the back end of the process when a return was complete.
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Why a Digital Tax Workflow System is Vital

Woman working at desktop computerA central system keeps everyone from making up their own.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

The most important aspect of transitioning the firm’s tax process to a digital environment is managing electronic files that are no longer physically viewable in assorted stacks around the office.

MORE: SURVEY: 72% of Firms Annotate PDFs | How Long Do You Need That File? | Don’t Underestimate Document Management | Profession Transitions from Windows 7 to 10 | Some Firms Dumping Desktop Computers | Roman Kepczyk: Inside The Quantum of Paperless
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This requires a digital tax workflow system that lets everyone know the status of every return and easily connects that person to digital copies of the return and the source documents.
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How Long Do You Need That File?

You need a policy ... and accountability.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Managing digital files is in many ways similar to managing paper files in that the firm must have standards for who can create a document, add to or edit a document, file it, and eventually purge the file.

MORE: SURVEY: CPA Firms Split on OCR for Tax Scanning | 67% Turn Client Documents into PDFs | How 53% of Firms Use Intranets to Work Smarter | Check Your Bandwidth | Microsoft Office 201x vs. Office 365 | How the Cloud Plays into Scheduled Server Replacement | Monitor Real Estate: More IS Better
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Unfortunately, as digital files are on the network and “out of sight,” many firms are not really aware of what files are stored, the most current versions and whether or not they should be deleted.
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Don’t Underestimate Document Management

Illustration of manila folders dropping from laptop screenMore robust products should have integrated portals.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

The network drive in most firms is not very well organized and requires the most cleanup. This happens because it is usually managed with Microsoft Windows Explorer, which allows almost anyone to create or access a file anywhere on the drive.

MORE: How 53% of Firms Use Intranets to Work Smarter | Digital Communications Unify Messaging | Remote Access Requires Planning | Profession Transitions from Windows 7 to 10 | Scanners Capture Documents at the Source | Two Tech Trends to Watch
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Unfortunately, there is seldom a firm standard that is adhered to, allowing users to create files with any naming convention they want and store them anywhere they please. The result can be files that are hard to find and slow to search across the network.
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SURVEY: 82% Use Front-End Scanning

Here's one way to make busy season less chaotic.

 

Does your firm PRIMARILY scan client source documents (W2, 1099, etc.) at the front end of the process when the tax return is received and/or prior to review (mid-level scanning) so they are utilized onscreen?

Pie chart

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How 53% of Firms Use Intranets to Work Smarter

Four empty metal bucketsBeware that third bucket.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Firm knowledge and information is usually stored in one of four “buckets.”

MORE: Digital Communications Unify Messaging | Hotspots the Answer for Field Access | Proactively Manage Application Updates | Offsite Backup Is Critical | Scanners Capture Documents at the Source | Two Tech Trends to Watch
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The most obvious is within the accounting applications themselves where tax, audit and accounting programs store client files in a format that can only be accessed with that program. Files are usually indexed and accessed in designated directories so there is not much the firm can do about moving these files.
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Digital Communications Unify Messaging

Three people speaking by videoconferenceAll communications can be Internet-accessible.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

I've mentioned that firms should strive to capture all data in a digital format at its “root” source. This goes for services such as the firm’s fax and voicemail systems as well.

MORE: Hotspots the Answer for Field Access | Check Your Bandwidth | Microsoft Office 201x vs. Office 365 | How the Cloud Plays into Scheduled Server Replacement | Monitor Real Estate: More IS Better
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Traditional inbound faxes are usually printed from a fax machine and then hand-delivered to the recipient’s desk. In some cases, this image is actually rescanned and emailed to the recipient.
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