Last week, CPA Practice Advisor held its 7th annual Ensuring Success CPE program where I presented “Accounting Firm Workflow in a Remote World” along with Donny Shimamoto (Intraprise) and Richard Roppa-Roberts (Quaser Cowboy).

With COVID impacting firms through the upcoming busy season, it has never been more important that firms standardize their production processes and working environments to promote safety, security, and health for both firm personnel and clients.

 

All data needs to be digital; all applications should be available in the cloud.

By default, this means that all data needs to be digital, all applications available in the cloud, and all engagements easily accessible to personnel, which points to firms adopting dedicated workflow tools.

Webinar participants were surveyed and less than half had already implemented a dedicated workflow solution.

This points to a great opportunity to implement workflow products that manage every aspect of firm production and optimize access for personnel who are working remotely.

Components such as due dates, tax lead sheets, return assignments and stratification, delivery instructions, source documents, etc. all are managed in a single application. While many firms have “digitized” individual manual components of their production workflow, in many cases these changes did not significantly improve the production process.

 

Here’s how digital workflow tools can help remote (and semi-remote) accounting firms this busy season.

This is where digital workflow tools come into play.

Accounting firms can use these tools to coordinate the traditional status components needed to process a tax return, complete an audit engagement, or process client payrolls–all within one platform that is available to all remote or on-premises users.

Smaller firms tend to utilize tools such as OfficeTools Professional, Canopy, or Karbon.

Medium and larger firms typically favor the tools that integrate with their tax or document management applications:

Thomson Reuters FirmFlow/AdvanceFlow
Doc.It Workflow
CCH Axcess Workstream
CCH XCM

 

How much can firms save by switching from manual to digital delivery methods?

In addition to managing all workflow in the cloud, it is also important to utilize “modern” applications that effectively transform traditional firm production processes to make them more effective for both the firm and for clients.

I suggest firms revisit their organizer and engagement letter delivery mechanisms, including the incorporation of modern portals and eSignature tools which promote the adoption of capturing data at the “root source,” instead of dealing with the manual overhead and processes associated with physical documents.

By switching from manual to digital delivery, I estimate that firms can save between $10 and $20 per client interaction.

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