Many firms using engagement software believe they have all of the document management features they need. However, most firms could benefit from using document management and engagement software together. These two types of solutions actually complement each other, with distinct functions and benefits at different stages of your workflow.
Capture files not specific to your engagement
Not every file in your firm is related to a specific engagement. Firm files related to functions like HR, payroll and professional development need to be organized and managed as well. Other types of documents you need to manage outside of your engagement software may include client billing, benefit consulting, asset management, administration/finance and consulting information. And depending on your firm’s workflows, you may need to manage files related to simple 1040 engagements, accounting services, research and email messages.
Find workpapers faster with robust search capabilities
There will be times you need to access an engagement-related workpaper when it’s not convenient or efficient to find and open an entire engagement binder. In these cases, a document management system provides search functionality that can save a lot of time. Search by client name or ID, file name or key file properties. You should also be able to sort and filter your search results to find exactly the file you need.
Manage and automate document retention policies
All firms should have a document retention policy. However, maintaining these policies consistently can be a challenge. By using document management and engagement software together, you can set retention policies on workpapers and engagement binders. A good document management system will allow you to easily purge expired files as needed. After all, keeping files longer than needed can be as bad as or worse than not keeping them long enough.
Collect and manage documents before rolling them forward
Some accountants may prefer their clients to collect all engagement-related documents and submit the information all at once. However, more and more firms are encouraging clients to submit information as it becomes available. This gives firms more opportunities to suggest value-added services and can streamline the work once the engagement begins. However, in order to avoid a disorganized mess, you need to have a place to store this information before rolling the engagement binder forward. A document management system that stores and manages documents in their native file formats is ideal for this purpose.
While engagement software is a great investment for your tax and audit practice, a good document management system will improve efficiency throughout your firm. Document management and engagement software work together in ways that improve your engagement workflows and make information easier to find, manage and store.