Enhancing document management strategies

In today's business world, accounting firms are responsible for large amounts of information. Regardless of if client records arrive as an email, a physical piece of paper or by voicemail, companies need to have the ability to process and categorize these files based on type, according to a report by AccountingWEB. For this reason, many decision-makers are resorting to document management systems to enhance productivity.

"When we discuss [document management] for inbound documents, we often focus on how those documents are handled by the accountant when they are received," said Gail Perry, CPA and author of the report. "Just as important is a well-defined system of delivery from the client."

One of the most important characteristics of document management software is its ability to streamline the gathering process to enhance productivity, the news source said.

Ensuring DM gathers efficiently
In many cases, clients deliver confidential files to accounting firms in a variety of formats, including PDF files, Word docs, spreadsheets and email attachments. If the document management software's ability to gather information is effective, this should not impact efficiency. If employees have to search for a specific record through their email, for example, something is clearly wrong, the news source said.

These processes, called "work-arounds," do not alleviate any permanent issues, as they are a temporary fix. If these occurrences happen frequently, executives should look into their document management strategies and determine how efficiently records are collected, how files are named and categorized and where the information goes once it is classified, AccountingWEB noted.

The problem with email
Email is one of the most common yet problematic methods of acquiring records in accounting firms, the news source said.

"In spite of safeguards, email transfer of sensitive documents is subject to risk from human error," Perry said. "Who hasn't sent a message to the wrong person when the need for speed coupled with the auto-fill process pulled the wrong name from the directory of contacts?"

Rather than relying on email, companies should integrate client web portals into their document management systems to streamline operations and reduce errors, the news source said. This was echoed in a separate report by the Colorado Small Business Development Center, which said companies should use advanced technologies to enhance document management solutions. In doing so, organizations can be more efficient and experience fewer setbacks.