Transforming Client Accounting Blog
Paperless Bill Management
As a trusted business advisor, you can take advantage of infrastructure efficiencies that allow you to focus on what you do best – advising your clients. Consider moving to cloud-based solution, and how an integrated bill management system, combined with a solid financial accounting system, may improve efficiencies within your firm. But, how do you do it? What are the benefits? And, how do your clients benefit?
Recently the National Associate of Water Companies (NAWC) outlined how it accomplished noticeable efficiencies by moving to cloud-based solutions. Along with the help from the staff at LarsonAllen, LLP, this water company improved collaboration and workflow efficiencies, while witnessing an increased benefit in the audit trail process, which aided in its annual audits.
You see, the NAWC was spending precious time twice per month dedicating time to meet with their LarsonAllen representative, reviewing, approving, and signing checks. The manual process, for this company of eight, fatigued dedicated and important resources. Once LarsonAllen moved to an integrated solution, the staff at NAWC could review, approve, and schedule online payments via check, ePayment/ACH, or PayPal with more flexibility and efficiency than ever before. And, best of all, the audit trail was built into the workflow solution.
Before the automated solution was put into place, NAWC staff would have to pull documentation and either email or fax it to LarsonAllen. With its cloud-based solution, users store documentation online, and the LarsonAllen staff can find answers on contracts and bills quickly. As a result, NAWC experienced a reduction in discovery hours and were able to provide faster, cleaner, and a more cost-effective audit trail.
Further, there was no more guessing about if or when bills were being paid. Mike Horner,
Director of Administration and Membership at NAWC, says, “Before [our automated solution was in place], I’d be walking the dog or taking a shower and I’d wonder if a certain bill had been paid. Because our [bill-pay solution] is cloud based, I can find the details immediately, on my home computer.”
So, rather than focusing their time on bill payment and management, the staff at NAWC is now more able to focus on their role at hand—educating the public on the safety of private tap water.
Learn more about how you can automate not only your firm’s bill paying processes, but also that of your clients; so they too can focus on what they do best—their business.
Read more case studies on how firms and their clients are implementing cloud-based solutions so they can focus on the business at hand.
Visit the Trusted Business Advisor Solution paperless bill management site today.
How is your practice planning to comply with the IRS mandate that will require all professional tax preparers to file electronically?
While the IRS recently announced that the requirement for all tax-preparers to e-file would be phased in over two years—requiring all preparers who anticipate filing over 100 returns over the year to make the transition by January 1, 2011, and for all providers who anticipate filing 11 or more returns to comply by January 1, 2012—it is clear that the IRS is following its Congressional mandate to make the process of tax filing primarily electronic.
For many tax preparers who have already adopted e-filing, this deadline will pass unnoticed, and may even provide a competitive advantage. For other preparers who have put off adopting, or simply have not seen the need for a digital workflow, this is a crucial time to make long-term strategic decisions about technological adoption and cost management.
If your firm is faced with a need to upgrade its workflow in order to maintain current levels of efficiency while complying with the IRS e-filing regulation, the preferable strategy might be to spend as little as possible until the technology begins to truly benefit the practice.
Increasingly, firms and preparers are meeting this challenge by adopting cloud financial solutions.
One of the best reasons to start doing business in the cloud now is that cloud-based solutions can accommodate a paperless workflow. In this scenario, administrative support staff may scan incoming documents, which are then identified, labeled, and bookmarked by an automated, cloud-based software platform, where the tax preparer can quickly access the information to save valuable time.
“Smart Scanning” has been around for a while. In a recent study, 70 percent of firms reported that they were scanning tax documents. However, while scanning is the first step to a paperless workflow, cloud-based financial solutions, such as Copanion GruntWorx for tax document automation, and XCM for firm-wide tax workflow, help tax-preparers to leverage this practice, making them more efficient during the busy tax season.
Mandatory e-filing means that all tax preparer workflows will end in the digital space, so consider the ROI implications of using cloud financials to implement a streamlined, paperless process for your entire firm. Some of the questions firms should ask are:
- Will adopting a cloud-based workflow solution pay off by increasing productivity; and
- Will choosing more user-friendly solutions mitigate training costs?
As James Bourke, CPA.CITP, of WithumSmith+Brown, puts it, “Before deploying new technologies or replacing existing ones you need to ask yourself, ‘How will this deployment make us a better, more profitable firm, and is this technology aligned with our strategic plan?’”
With conventional, non-cloud-based software solutions, firms must consider not only the cost of the licenses, but also increased IT costs and the “planned obsolescence” model of traditional software, requiring additional large expenditures to upgrade.
Cloud financials, by contrast, are priced on a rolling per-user, per-month basis, with ongoing support, training, and upgrades to the platform included in the Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Some of the benefits of this model are:
- Ease of fitting cloud financials into a tight budget;
- Having new users trained as needed ; and
- Limiting IT expenditures
How is your firm preparing to meet the e-Filing requirement? Is your firm moving to a paperless tax workflow? Let us know by leaving a comment.
One tip: Invest in a quality scanner!
With new cloud-based services, like Bill.com's paperless bill management solution and Copanion's paperless tax workflow system, accounting firms are finally moving closer and closer to a true paperless office. Cloud solutions like Bill.com and Copanion's GruntWorx let you quickly scan and upload client documents as soon as they land on your desk, where you can then process, manage and act on these documents in a timely manner.
One word of advice, especially for this tax season, invest in a quality scanner. In a recent AICPA CPA Insider article entitled, "Don't Skimp on Scanners" author Alexandra DeFelice provides some excellent advice and tips on choosing the right scanner for your firm's needs.
CPA2Biz and Copanion recently ran a live web seminar on "Best Practices for Scanning Tax Documents." If you missed this complimentary web event, you can view it now in its entirety.
Are you using a scanner to upload, organize, store, process and manage client documents, from invoices to W-2s and 1099s and brokerage statements? Are you happy with the scanner you currently have? Finally, do you scan before processing or after the fact for simple archival purposes? What advice or recommendations would you have for CPAs shopping for a scanner? Please share your experiences here.
A Special Message from Erik Asgeirsson, President and Chief Executive Officer, CPA2Biz, Inc.
The world of client accounting is changing. New cloud-based technologies are transforming the way CPAs will work and interact with their clients for years to come. These new technologies are increasing the productivity and profitability for many firms. The AICPA Trusted Business AdvisorSM Solutions featured on this web site, including Bill.com, Intacct, and Paychex, are designed to help the CPA community harness the power of these new technologies.
We are excited to announce the launch of CPA2Biz's all-new web site and blog dedicated to new advances in client accounting for the CPA community. Now, on a single web site, you will have access to the latest information on cloud-based technologies, tools, and business programs that will transform the way you do business with clients.
We'll be posting timely articles to this blog that you'll find useful in your day-to-day and long-range business operations. Of course, we want to hear what you think. Please don't hesitate to comment on our posts, ask questions, and share your thoughts and experiences using the new technologies featured on this site, including:
- Intacct: On-demand financial management and accounting tools
- Bill.com: Paperless bill management solutions
- Paychex: Payroll processing, HR, and 401(k) retirement services
- Trusted Business Advisor training and workshops
- Marketing solutions for CPA firms to help you attract and win new business
- And much more.
Over the last year, we have noticed a dramatic change in the rate that accounting firms are adopting these web- or cloud-based technologies. We believe it is extremely important for all firms to understand the positive impact of these changes. In particular, these new web-based tools will improve the standard and quality of services you can provide to your clients, while helping your firm increase productivity and profitability. One result of these new advances in client accounting is that firms, like yours, are in a better position to provide higher level (and more profitable) services to your clients, from budget planning and cash flow analysis to virtual CFO and business advisory services. We want to know what you think. So please share your thoughts here.
From time to time, we also hope to have thought leaders and other experts as guest bloggers. This will be your opportunity to read what these experts are thinking first-hand, as well as to comment on their posts and ask them questions.
Once again, welcome to our new web site and blog dedicated to your client accounting practice. We look forward to seeing you online.
President and Chief Executive Officer, CPA2Biz, Inc.