Post tax season document collection review

Have you come up for air after tax season?

Well, we all know that we really can’t breathe until after June 1st because everything that we had pushed until “after tax-season” became urgent on April 16th for our customers. We took a few days and then began the grind again.

And now it’s June. Time for summer–or “after tax-season” work.

I’m going to challenge you to think about workflow and how to improve it. Workflow is about more than moving steps along in your CCH Access Workstream. I think we need to begin with our customers and defining or redefining our processes around document collection.

I honestly believe the hardest part about a tax return is the document collection, not the actual tax return preparation.

Document Collection from Multiple Sources

In today’s world, we no longer have the opportunity to just collect documents via mail or even a portal…  It seems like documents are coming at us from all ways. They come from email, portal, text, Google Docs, DropBox, good old-fashioned mail, or even a stray fax. Then, we need to collect and at the perfect, opportune time decide when and how we scan/autoflow the collection of documents so we can begin to prepare the tax return.

Now is the time to review this complete workflow with everyone involved, including your customers, to see if there are better ways to handle it.

8 Steps to Better Document Collection

  1. Set up a summer project to interview a handful of customers, staff members, admins, and partners to see where all the documents arrived from.
  2. You might even want to create a contest for the “most unusual” arrival of a document and give a prize to the person who had the most extreme arrival. I bet you will be surprised at how many different entrance points your customers’ documents come from.
  3. Take that information and refine it. Think about how you can redefine the collection points and begin to limit them.
  4. After you limit connection points, you can create a few workflows around document collection. In a perfect world, there would be one way. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a realistic way to run a firm, so maybe limit it to 3 or 4 ways for document collection to happen. There might even be a “person” who is responsible for the collection of the documents for the people who don’t follow the rules.
  5. Socialize the new limited ways to collect documents and gather feedback. Make any changes necessary.
  6. Practice by using this the new way of document collection for extensions for a small group of customers.
  7. Gather feedback and refine the process.
  8. Get ready for roll out in 2019.

The above list of steps may seem basic… However, I believe we forget to make simple changes because we forget the “pain points” of tax season. We block tax season out of our minds and don’t make the changes before it rolls around again.

To learn more about improving document collection, download our whitepaper, Document Management: A Tax Season Planning Guide.

 

AUTHOR

Jody Padar, CPA, MST

CEO & Principal, New Vision CPA Group

All stories by: Jody Padar, CPA, MST