As tax season approaches, accountant’s everywhere are looking for the latest advantage to add to their workflow in order to outperform the competition, gain more clients and make their work as streamlined and effective as possible. Respected online publication Accounting Today has released an in-depth webinar titled “Head Back to Tax Season with a Digital Workflow in Place”, which outlines how outdated and archaic approaches to tax workflows can risk the reputation of your firm, leaving you error-prone and exposed to security breaches. The webinar goes on to outline how modernizing and digitizing their tax workflows can help optimize the way they perform tax preparations and compliance work.
The featured presenter of the webinar was Randolph P. Johnston, Chairman and CEO of K2 Enterprises & Network Management Group, Inc. Johnston has been an entrepreneur and teacher for much of his long career, and brings a deep well of CPA experience to his approach to modern advancements in the accounting field. His webinar is rich with information and filled with detailed outlines regarding how accounting firms can step up to the next level of efficiency by implementing digital workflows and document management software.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the highlights of this webinar and draw conclusions based on the information contained therein.
Time for a Change
One of the most alarming facts revealed over the course of the webinar is a statistic regarding the last time surveyed accountants had reviewed their tax preparation workflow. According to Johnston, 33% or one-third of participants hadn’t reviewed or updated their tax prep workflow in over three years, and over 10% hadn’t addressed workflow issues in over five years.
To put that into perspective, think about what cell phones looked like five years go compared to where they are now. The technology has advanced exponentially. You can begin to understand how using five-year-old workflow approaches is a foolhardy way to fall behind and be outgunned in the fight for clients come tax season, especially if you fail to even be aware of what’s out there.
What is Workflow Management?
Johnston spent the early segment of the webinar discussing exactly what workflow management entails. He asked the following questions— is it simply document tracking? Is it simply process rules and procedures?
Johnston went on to outline how workflow management is the conscientious understanding of the movement of documents and/or tasks through a work process. He then discussed how implementing a digital content management system can address every element of a workflow. Let’s go through each stage of this analysis and address how a document management system could assist in the process.
How tasks are structured- Utilizing a DMS can help improve the way tasks are developed and structured by making project instructions readily available to any users who are granted access to the cloud-based database. This allows organizations to easily ensure that the initiation phase of the workflow is operating efficiently and effectively.
Who performs those tasks- Delegation can often become one of the most difficult aspects of running a firm. With a DMS, everyone can be instantly made aware of their responsibilities and what is expected of them.
What tasks are synchronized- Accounting professionals know that given tasks never occur in a vacuum. They build off one another and are dependent upon the completion of other tasks in order to move forward. An effective DMS allows users to be constantly updated with the status of simultaneous tasks to ensure productivity continues.
The flow of information- Ensuring that all employees (and clients) are constantly kept informed on the status of various tasks and the information necessary to complete those tasks is absolutely critical. A document management system allows users to disseminate information instantaneously to all involved parties within the firm so that productivity never has to cease due to lack of information.
Budgets and timelines- Staying on budget and staying on schedule are equally critical goals that must be managed effectively. By implementing a digital workflow, significant costs like storage cabinets, filing costs and printing supplies are reduced to a degree matched only by the amount of time saved when employees don’t have to rummage through files several times per day.
Billing tracking- Payments simply matter— you are a business after all. But with a streamlined DMS, payments can be taken care of quickly, efficiently and easily so that your firm can get back to serving your clients.
Johnston concluded in his webinar that using archaic methods of workflow management not only costs time and money in the short term but also lead to significant lost efficiency and lost business when a firm fails to compete among the crowded and competitive industry.
To find out more about how using digital document management to optimize your workflow can transform your accounting firm, fill out the form on this page to receive a free 15-minute demo of eFileCabinet’s advanced document management system.