Making the move to paperless: Tools and tech
hHelping an accounting firm make the move to the new technologies of content management is not always easy. People grow accustomed to the ways that things have always been done, even if those things are neither efficient nor comfortable. “Start by learning the areas of ‘paper pain’ in the office,” advised Kim Hogan, business development manager — accounting, at Fujitsu Computer Products of America Inc.
“If there are still paper processes, there is still some level of
pain. Before you can educate your staff to find a better way,
you have to investigate the ways that are not working.”
A state-of-the-art document management system
handles a number of critical tasks simultaneously:
• Metadata, such as the file date, the client and the
name of the file creator.
• Integration with tax, accounting and other apps.
• Using a scanner to capture paper documents, and
character recognition software to convert the document to
an electronic file.
• Indexing the document to make it text-searchable.
• Storage and retrieval of the document.
• Security of the document.
• Workflow, collaboration, publishing and distribution
of the documents.
• Versioning, to ensure that only the most current
copies of documents and workpapers are shared.
But there is no requirement that firms start with all
of these tasks. Select the few that will immediately drive
customer service and productivity at the best cost.
And look for ways to adopt new concepts without just
buying a document management system. There are plenty of
opportunities to adopt more current systems for customer
relationship management or workflow management that
may not involve direct content management but nonetheless
reduce bottlenecks and the use of resources at a relatively
low cost in both cash outlays and learning curves.
Finally, consider the type of system that best fits the
productivity needs of the firm. If the basic need is to send
people out into the field, with collaboration and the means
to securely store and share documents, then a turnkey
system of hardware, software and best practices may do the
trick. For an enterprise-level adoption project, the firm will
be better off selecting best-of breed components for each of
these three solution classes — that is, selecting best-of-breed
software, hardware and management systems for CRM,
workflow and practice management.
While there are any number of hardware and
software options that can be integral to a firm’s solutions
for document management, there are three core pieces that
are necessary for all solutions — a scanner, the document
management software, and a storage solution.
In terms of things to look for in a scanner, the rules are
pretty simple. If you plan to scan documents, you want a
scanner that will handle the photo resolution of a printed
document — 600 dpi, or dots-per-inch. For photos, you’ll
want to kick that up to at least 4,800 dpi for better results.
•Hewlett Packard Scanjet G4050 Flatbed Scanner. The
HP Scanjet is an industry icon — one of the first models
of affordable, high-quality scanners. The G4050 is no
exception — an elegant, $199 scanner with superior color
accuracy, 4,800-dpi scans and excellent software for image
cleanup. It comes with OCR software.
DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Document management software generally focuses on the
need for security, ease of storage and retrieval, and the ability
to share or collaborate on documents easily.
Here is a sampling of some of the market-leading
•CNG-SAFE. Cabinet NG’s CNG-SAFE (Shared
Access Filing Environment) is a client-server system designed
to automate workflow processes for accounting, tax and
financial planning/wealth management. Built on the .Net
and Microsoft SQL platforms, CNG-SAFE follows a
standard filing-cabinet architecture of drawers, folders, tabs
and documents that is consistent with the filing systems used
in typical accounting firms.
• Doc.It Suite. Doc.It Suite is a workflow management,
work-in-progress binder, archiving and client portal solution
that aims for a combination of usability and effectiveness
for firms with as few as five employees, but that also scales
upward to mid-range and larger accounting operations.
• FileCabinet CS. Thomson Reuters’ FileCabinet CS
is a tightly constructed solution for document management
and workflow management built around the concepts of
paperless workflow, integration with other accounting
applications, and Internet access to the archived documents
for both professionals and their clients.
•GoFileRoom ES. Thomson Reuters’ GoFileRoom ES
is the document management and workflow solution for the
Enterprise Suite that includes Practice ES, GoSystem Tax ES
and Engagement ES. In addition, it provides native support
for Microsoft Office file formats, and one-click integration
with Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes.
• Lacerte DMS. Intuit’s Lacerte DMS is a very
functional and straightforward document archiving and
retrieval system with capabilities for security, search and
backup of files. It offers built-in seamless integration with
Lacerte Tax Software and all Lacerte add-on solutions,
including Tax Planner, E-organizer, and Trial Balance Utility.
• ProSystem fx DocumentASP. CCH offers two
dynamic document and workflow solutions under its
ProSystem fx brand, a PC-based system and ProSystem
fx Document ASP. ProSystem fx Document stores
electronic workpapers, binders, client source documents,
financial statements, human resources data files and
back-office documentation, and in addition secures client
communication by moving it to a secure server where access
can be better controlled. ProSystem fx DocumentASP is a
hosted solution that provides secure document transfer and
storage from any place with an Internet connection.
• SmartVault. SmartVault is an easy-to-use Web-
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