There have been countless discussions about the value of a paperless tax process – starting with scanning all source documents, moving work through an automated workflow system, right through to online review and digitally sharing e-filed documents with clients via portal software.
For a quick refresher, it looks something like this with a few variations, like whether you’re using OCR software or using an outsource tax prep provider. Most firms are working digitally in their tax departments in one way or another, even if they haven’t adopted a completely digital workflow.
The next logical step is to look at other areas of your practice that can benefit from a digital workflow. Eighty-two percent of small firms, for example, report that they prepare taxes, but a whopping 91 percent say that they perform accounting or bookkeeping services (source: 1st Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey).
Big or small, there’s a large, growing need for client accounting services among small businesses. Firms that have figured out how to create an efficient, digital workflow have also reaped the benefits of adding higher value advisory services to that mix.
How are they doing it? They’ve taken the end-to-end digital workflow similar to the above tax example and have extended it to their clients. And, some have gone even further to leverage this digital process for a successful outsourcing strategy. So, what does that look like?
In this scenario, the client begins the process by making available digital statements and/or scanning and uploading paper source documents to the firm’s portal. A partner or staff member at the firm downloads the appropriate files and moves the workflow to the next step, in which either an internal or external member of the bookkeeping team prepares the appropriate monthly entries and financial statement, which you use as a tool to discuss financial strategies for your client’s business.
Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. To make this scenario work, all you need is a ScanSnap at your client’s office, XCM workflow automation software, a cloud-based or hosted accounting system, and a written process for how your firm performs monthly client accounting services.
Erika Schonberg is the Vice President of Marketing & Alliances at XCM Solutions, the leading provider of workflow automation and outsourcing solutions for accounting firms.