The most efficient and effective firms are those that fully use a document management system during each and every 1040 workflow step. Rather than treating document management as an additional concern associated with each step of your process, it can be helpful to think of your document management system as the hub of your 1040 process. Building workflow efficiency with a document management system may not be easy, but it’s worth it.
Many people think of the tax workflow as a linear process, from gathering source documents to delivering the final tax return and sending an invoice. However, with a document management system as the hub of the process, the workflow becomes more client-centered.
- When client files are obtained, they are added to the document management system.
- The document management system makes it easier to manage file naming conventions and keep files organized. This means you’ll be able to access files and answer client questions more quickly.
- Indexing and search functionality make it easier for staff to find the files they need while they are doing the work. Staff can focus on the work rather than spending too much time searching for information.
- Electronic signatures and file-sharing capabilities make it easier to obtain signatures where needed. These collaborative tools keep clients engaged in the process and add value to the relationship.
- Automated retention rules protect the client and firm. Keeping documents too long can be just as bad as not keeping them long enough. Do not store archived files indefinitely.
- Storing invoices and copies of payment checks keeps all of a clients’ information in one place.
Building workflow efficiency by automating all of these steps can help save your staff a lot of time. A document management system is a powerful client service tool. Don’t let your staff spend too much time finding and managing files and paperwork. Instead, your staff should focus on the client’s unique situation and adding value to the relationship.
However, implementing a document management system can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you intend to use it throughout the firm in all stages of your workflows. Start small. An easy goal is to start scanning documents earlier in the process, so your staff has access to a digital document up front. From there, you can build out more efficient processes step by step.
To learn more about building workflow efficiency throughout your firm with a document management system, download our whitepaper, Document Management: A Tax Season Planning Guide.