Content originally appeared on the CPACharge blog.
As our world becomes increasingly digital, CPA and accounting firms are eliminating their dependence on paper in favor of more productive, efficient, and secure paperless systems.
If you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of going paperless in your own firm, but aren’t sure where to start, this article is for you. Here, we’ll highlight three CPA paperless office software solutions firms like yours are using to improve workflow and efficiency.
1. Client Portals
Client portal technology gives professionals a significantly more secure platform through which to interact with clients and share documents digitally. These systems are protected with advanced encryption, so only your staff and your clients can access the items stored within. Best of all, most client portal technology is very user-friendly, both for you and your clients. Getting clients on board is as simple as sending them an invitation, where they can create their own account to log into your portal.
Accounting-focused client portals like CCH Axcess Portal let you give clients easy access to tax returns, balance sheets, and other important documents you’ve prepared for them. Portals can also allow your clients to provide signatures on documents electronically without needing to step into your office.
Portals also offer an extra layer of protection from computer viruses and other unwanted software your clients may accidentally spread to your firm. “While you know the security measure you have taken to protect your computer from malware, you have no control over what the client may have,” writes Gary Kaplan for AccountingWeb. “If the documents are uploaded directly to the cloud-based server, they go through a rigorous shakedown for malware before they are encrypted and stored.”
2. Document Management Systems (DMS)
It's important to keep your firm’s files well organized and in a safe location. Without a proper digital filing system, files can not only become difficult to find, but also become vulnerable to leaks or hacks.
Document management systems (DMS), such as SmartVault, are specifically designed to remedy this issue by offering professionals a secure,organized platform to store vital documents. Writing for CPA Practice Advisor, Mary Girsch-Bock notes, “while you may be the most meticulous person in the world, always ensuring that any file or document is always returned to its original location, your co-workers may not be. A good document management system allows you to place those documents in storage electronically, ensuring easy access and eliminating the need to worry about misplacing or losing documents.”
With DMS, you can designate which users can log into the system and access the files contained within. Access to the system can be tiered, as well, giving each user access to only certain folders or files depending on their credentials. The best DMS can also integrate with your firm’s client portal, allowing you to deliver documents to clients directly from your DMS.
3. Online Payment Solutions
A digital payment process not only moves your firm closer to being paperless, but also can significantly increase cash flow. In fact, research shows that when accepting client payment online by credit card, firms get paid 39 percent faster than by other means. Rather than wait for a check to arrive in the mail, you can use online payment software to send clients a link to a secure payment page, where they can pay your invoice with just a few clicks, from wherever they are. The best online payment solutions even allow you to set up recurring payments, charging a client’s card automatically so you can focus on your work instead of the bill.
In addition to improving your bottom line, online payment solutions have the added benefit of improving your data security efforts. Solutions like DMS can help protect credit card data, but an even better solution is to not store this data at all. With many online payment software tools, your clients enter their own billing information into a secure payment portal, which is then handled and stored by your payment processor. Even better are the solutions that are backed by the highest standards in internet security, such as those at level 1 PCI compliance, meaning they’re equipped with powerful data encryption and receive regular security audits by a third party.
Paperless solutions are just one aspect of the technological upheaval that’s reshaping the accounting profession today. CPAs who embrace digital transformation early will be much better equipped in the future as these trends become the norm.
To learn more about the latest payment trends that will impact how you run your firm, download our e-book, “Getting Paid Today: Trends CPAs Need to Know.”
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