Study: Document management software leads to better compliance

Business owners are constantly looking for the best ways to manage their finances, and there are good reasons for that. It can lead to more efficient processes, fewer errors, lower operating costs and several other benefits.

One area that decision-makers might be overlooking relates to something they have to deal with sporadically: compliance. But when audit season comes around, employees are quickly reminded just how stressful, time-consuming and agonizing following regulations can be.

To make matters more complicated, there have been some 4,400 legislative tax code changes since 2000, according to a recent study from Sage.

"The sheer number of changes to the tax system over the past 13 years is astonishing," said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager at Sage Small Business Solutions. "Our survey indicates that complying with tax rules and regulations is a concern for small business owners, especially those who do not use accounting software."

Technology can help
Not too long ago, Sauder Customer Fabrication, a manufacturing firm, was still managing files with a 35-year-old system. While this presented plenty of challenges, perhaps none of them were greater than when it came time to respond to audit requests.

"In the past, the [auditors would] give me a list of what they wanted and I would go and plow through a whole years worth of documentation to find what they needed and hope it hadn't been filed in the wrong spot," said Sauder president and CFO Sandy Moore.

In a recent blog post for PYMNTS.com, Rene Lacerte, CEO of Bill.com, suggested that paperless document management can be a "game-changing" technology for business owners. In particular, it makes it extremely easy to store and save important files into company databases, and it's just as simple to locate those documents whenever they're needed. Paperless systems also help companies reduce fraud because they provide better visibility and typically come with enhanced security features.

All of these characteristics make document management software effective for compliance purposes, a notion backed up by the results of the Sage survey. According to the study, only 17 percent of non-accounting-software business owners are comfortable with meeting tax regulations. That number jumps to nearly 30 percent for respondents whose companies are using accounting tools - such as Moore and Sauder Custom Fabrication.

After implementing its paperless system, Moore said fewer employees had to spend time compiling files for audits than in the past, and she noted that "auditors were very pleased with" their new processes.