How an ‘Owner’s Drawer’ Boosts Security

Older businessman sitting at desk holding phoneBONUS: You sneak in some training.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Improving firm efficiency means that the owners have to get on board. One of the more obvious opportunities is the delivery of the firm’s own financial reports.

MORE: Why Daily T/E Entry Should Be Required | Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’ | Beyond Email: New Digital Tools | Who Deletes Documents and When? | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet | SURVEY: How Many Firms Back Up Data to the Internet?
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Many firms still print a hard copy of the monthly financials and distribute them to each owner, many of whom physically store these documents in a binder or drawer in their office.
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Why Daily T/E Entry Should Be Required

Man viewing desktop computer screenThis means owners and managers, too.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Studies done over the past two decades have clearly shown that there is a significant improvement in realization for firms that enter, release and post time and expenses on a daily basis. This process allows for daily or “hotel”-type billing, which is sent out with the completion of each billable project.

MORE: Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’ | The Top Portable Monitors for Auditors | Why Scanning Procedures Matter | Using Databases for Document Management | SURVEY: Firms Split on Mobile Device Management | Need Internet? Grab Your Phone | SURVEY: IM Still Not Common at CPA Firms | The Best Defense Against Malware | SURVEY: 59% Deliver Invoices on Paper | Is It Time to Update Your Offsite Backups?
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The next step in the evolution of time and billing systems provided real-time dashboards to report on firm activities and effectively allow firms to generate invoices.
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Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’

Man's hands on computer keyboardTwo software apps to compare.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Traditional audit practices use the previous year’s audit programs and processes updated for the current year as their standard operating plan.

MORE: How to Equip Field Auditors | Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging
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Eventually this can lead to a significant amount of “overauditing.” Breaking this habit is difficult as every level of staff has been trained in the manual processes and falls back on them when deadlines approach.
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The Top Portable Monitors for Auditors

Laptop with portable monitor attachedTest out mobile monitors before buying them in bulk.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

The advent of today’s audit “document container” applications has transitioned every aspect of audit production into a digital format.

MORE: Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals | Beyond Email: New Digital Tools | Who Deletes Documents and When? | The New Risks in Cloud Efficiencies
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The key to successfully using these engagement applications is to make sure your personnel have the optimal equipment with them to work digitally. This includes multiple monitors, image capture equipment and remote communications capabilities.
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Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals

5 steps to successMake sure you include ALL steps.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Every firm has accountants who are 10 percent, 20 percent or even 50 percent more productive in their departments than other personnel because they have simply “figured it out.” Unfortunately, when these people leave the firm, their unique knowledge of specific processes and shortcuts goes with them.

MORE: Beyond Email: New Digital Tools | Why Scanning Procedures Matter | Using Databases for Document Management | SURVEY: Firms Split on Mobile Device Management | Need Internet? Grab Your Phone | SURVEY: IM Still Not Common at CPA Firms
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It is the responsibility of firms to capture these individuals’ best practices so that that specific knowledge can be shared and accessed by all firm members both now and in the future. This can be accomplished by making a concerted effort to develop a best practices manual within each department.
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Beyond Email: New Digital Tools

Screwdriver and wrenchThe top 3 remote screen control tools to help clients.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

One of the most critical steps in transitioning a firm to a “paperless” environment is capturing information in a digital format at its “root” source as that information enters the firm.

MORE: Why Scanning Procedures Matter | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging
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At the base level, this means having clients provide you information in a digital format, which can be done via email, digital fax or through a portal rather than with a physical document. While email is currently the most prevalent tool utilized by clients, it is anticipated the security concerns will help clients transition toward portals.
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Why Scanning Procedures Matter

CPAs’ top picks: Fujitsu fi and  Canon DR.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

For the next few years, it is anticipated that accounting firm clients will continue to deliver a significant amount of their organizers and supporting tax documents to the firm in a physical format. To utilize this information in a paperless environment, it must be effectively scanned and managed at the lowest possible cost.

MORE: Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | Who Deletes Documents and When? | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet | SURVEY: How Many Firms Back Up Data to the Internet? | The New Risks in Cloud Efficiencies | SURVEY: How Many Firms Use Unified Messaging? | Is It Time to Update Your Offsite Backups?
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Early paperless adopters scanned the tax return and the supporting documents at the back end of the process when a return was complete. This is still usually the first step when firms transition from a completely manual environment.
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Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects

Pixelated blue text "workflow" on binary code backgroundWhy the difference matters.

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. 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.

MORE: Who Deletes Documents and When? | Using Databases for Document Management | SURVEY: Firms Split on Mobile Device Management | Need Internet? Grab Your Phone | SURVEY: IM Still Not Common at CPA Firms | The Best Defense Against Malware
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Under traditional manual tax systems, firms utilized due date tracking databases that identified when a return was due, but not what information was missing, or the preparation, review or extension status, which was often recorded manually on a physical routing sheet.
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Who Deletes Documents and When?

Businessman jumping with papers stuck to himLike everything else in your practice, document retention needs a system.

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: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet | SURVEY: How Many Firms Back Up Data to the Internet? | The New Risks in Cloud Efficiencies
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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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Using Databases for Document Management

Businessman touching virtual buttons in server roomMany have integrated portals for transferring files to clients.

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: SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet | SURVEY: How Many Firms Back Up Data to the Internet? | The New Risks in Cloud Efficiencies | SURVEY: How Many Firms Use Unified Messaging? | Be Careful with Microsoft Office Upgrades | SURVEY: Have You Dumped Manual Invoices Yet?
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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 it anywhere they choose. The result can be files that are hard to find and slow to search across the network.
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Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet

Four empty metal bucketsDashboards may speed up the search process.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

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

MORE: SURVEY: Firms Split on Mobile Device Management | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging | SURVEY: Nearly Half of Firms Use Videoconferencing | Plan Right for Remote Access | SURVEY: Only 32% of Firms Providing Non-Phone Devices | Jumping to Windows 10
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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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