Cloud-based document management: A few of my favorite things

At the heart of every firm is information.

This we know.

We also know that how we manage and share information is critical to the success and growth of our firm.

Sometimes we refer to information as documents. But to our customers they know it as “their stuff.”

Once our customer gives us “their stuff” the rest is up to us.

They don’t need to know the details of cloud-based document management on the back end. They just need to feel like we have everything under control.

And we do, don’t we?

For the sake of this post, let’s talk about what happens to “their stuff” when they send it off to us. And I especially want to talk about how CCH Axcess makes handling customer information a whole lot easier.

After the documents or “their stuff” has been passed off to us, we mark up their files with internal notes. These become our workpapers. Workpapers allow us to communicate and document notes and internal information on top of what the customer provided.

This information is where the CPA can make magic happen. Access to this information anytime anywhere makes a firm mobile.

Hello 21st century firm!

Why anyone would not want cloud-based document management is beyond me. Just let me get on my soapbox for a second.

Technology allows us to have a truly mobile firm where I can work anytime anywhere whether I want to or not. Those of you who work this way already know the challenges of being available all the time. But remember, that’s a personal issue not a professional one.

Now that we have gotten the cloud out of the way, what do I like about CCH Axcess Document? A lot.

But first things first. Did you see that they changed the look of Axcess? Now there’s new icons! The aesthetic is pretty cool but what I like most is that once I get inside it’s my old classic Axcess Document.

A few of my favorite things

Here are some of my favorite things about Document:

  • Searching for a file. I’m not sure how it all works but the file structure allows for each search across your electronic file cabinet.
  • Dragging and dropping or saving an email right into Document. It’s smooth.
  • Scanning barcodes.  Wait, I’ve never done that personally but I hear from my office team how much they love that function.
  • Archiving files gets a lot easier. Axcess auto archives and expunges documents based on our legal requirement to save documents for a certain period of time.  It automagically deletes them based on the firm’s original setup.
  • Transferring a secure document in a super easy safe way.
  • Connecting to Axcess Tax. This is my happy place.  There are many more inexpensive document products out there. In fact, I’ve even heard of firms still using the “N Drive” file tree. Gasp! The integration point here is priceless to our firm.  Not to mention its ability to post to the external customer portal in one click.
  • Allowing one editor at a time. So you can’t overwrite someone else’s document. Which leads me to Checkout files.
  • Remembering to check out files. I admit it.  I’m the queen of not returning checked out files. I’m the same with library books. There is probably someone in your firm just like me.  I’m getting better with my operations partner’s kind reminders to check stuff back in.
  • Saving an Excel file on the fly in Document. Thanks, CCH ribbon!

But the best thing? With cloud-based document management, there are no file cabinets in my office! And there is no need to pay for offsite storage.

However, probably the biggest opportunity with CCH Axcess Document and Tax has been its connection to Office 365.

Priceless integration with Office 365

In December 2015, a new development happened that truly allowed us to be fully on the cloud: Axcess enabled integration with Microsoft Office 365.

Up to this point, I still had to use Office with a hosted server. This integration allowed us to eliminate our hosting all together. We no longer had to pay our Citrix hosting fees of approximately $23,000 a year.

Instead, we pay Microsoft and Adobe about $25 a month per user. Needless to say, we are very happy about this!

We are still learning all the benefits of 365 but this tax season was delightful. With 365, we get all the benefits of regular office, email, Word, PowerPoint, the office favorite Excel, SharePoint and even Skype. Included in our small fee to Microsoft we are allowed to have an “N: Drive” (cloud-based document management on SharePoint) where we can store shared files that are not customer specific (because we use CCH Axcess Document for customer files).

With Document and Microsoft 365, our core of firm information is totally covered.  We have complete access to all the information our firm needs to respond to our customers timely and on point.

We now have the information that makes our firm have value at our finger tips anytime and anywhere. Our remote team members can be anywhere in the world and still be productive employees.

Cloud-based document management brings my employees so much more freedom and with that freedom comes greater work satisfaction. And we all know what greater work satisfaction brings – happier and well-serviced customers. It’s an absolute win-win.

To learn more about how Office 365 works with CCH Axcess, download the whitepaper, CCH Axcess and Microsoft Office 365: A Match Made in the Cloud.


Jody Padar, CPA, MST

CEO & Principal, New Vision CPA Group

All stories by: Jody Padar, CPA, MST

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