After April 15, many firms begin to research new technology or processes to help make their offices more efficient before crunch time hits again. But sometimes the problem is right under your nose, masquerading as an innocent bit of office furniture. Before tax season hits again, take stock of your office and get rid of these useless items:
Rolodex: Paper-based client data is probably out of date.
Replace with: Client database. When client data is stored digitally and accessible by multiple people within the firm, it is more likely to be up to date. Try to minimize the number of databases you store client information in, and select a database of record that will be the primary source for client data, so you can be sure you’re looking at the right information at all times.
Copy Machine: It’s the twenty-first century – why are you making MORE paperwork?
Replace with: A scanner. When your clients bring in boxes of paperwork, scan it all in and let the clients take the mess back home with them. Digitizing receipts and correspondence will keep your files more organized and provide back-ups in case of disaster.
Stamps: Postage is expensive, and the postal service is slow.
Replace with: Portals. With properly-implemented portals, your clients can have instant access to their tax returns and other documents. You can deliver a document with the click of a button, and your clients can have self-service access to their files any time and day.
Filing cabinet: Not only do filing cabinets waste space and make finding files difficult, but they impede collaboration within your firm.
Replace with: A Document Management System (DMS). A DMS should include collaboration features like check-in/check-out, as well as allow you to set and automate retention policies. When was the last time your filing cabinet reminded you to get rid of a document?
Fax Machine: Your fax machine is probably getting a lot less use since the advent of email, but it’s still the go-to tool for receiving signed documents from clients.
Replace with: E-signatures. Delivering documents through a portal is great, but if you need a signature, do you ask your clients to print-sign-fax it back to you? This is not convenient for clients and it can cause chaos in your office as well. Electronic signatures reduce this hassle to the bare minimum, and with knowledge-based authentication, you can make the process more secure as well.
Tax season will be here before you know it. Take steps now to improve your digital tax workflow. Learn more.