Written by Don Emery of Doc.It Inc. Firms that adopt document management systems (DMS) and workflow software can tackle inefficiency head on. Chiefly, they can save time on low-value tasks such as document retrieval and increase standardisation in filing and naming conventions.

If you’re wondering whether an investment into DMS and workflow software will pay off, now is a good time to carry out some analysis. When it comes to ROI, firms can weigh both the quantifiable savings and those less tangible – but no less important – advantages of DMS and workflow software.

Time spent retrieving documents

Say your firm has 30 people with an average salary of $40 per hour and that each spends 10 minutes a day looking for documents. With 30 working 22 days per month, the firm is wasting 6,600 minutes/month or 110 hours on this administrative task. A simple calculation of 110 hours spent per month at $40 per hour reveals a shocking waste of resources handling the administrative yet necessary task of document retrieval.

A 30-person firm can invest about $900 per month on Doc.It’s DMS and workflow software, which will reduce document retrieval time to only a few mouse clicks. In this example, the time-savings amount to more than $3,400 per month. Additionally, when time spent on administrative tasks like document retrieval is reduced, more time is available to handle high-value tasks.

Measurable Efficiency Gains

There are several measurable advantages that Doc.It’s DMS and workflow software provide.

Time spent locating files is time wasted. So minimising this time is a worthwhile goal. Many accountants may not consider the cost of retrieving documents when documents are:

  • Stored in a paper file room or in boxes.
  • Kept on someone’s desk or stored offsite.
  • Misfiled (paper or digital).
  • Not named properly, naming conventions are not uniformly applied.

When firms use Windows to file documents, retrieval problems will persist. Lack of librarianship, file naming conventions and an ever-present threat of  people deleting, changing file names or misfiling information are in evidence.

When retrieval is delayed or is impossible there are real costs relating to time wasted, forced call-backs to clients and missied deadlines.

Using the Right Document Retrieval

Consider the amount of time that firms spend on handling client files. It adds up to about two hours per year for each corporate client and about 15 minutes per year for personal clients. Firms also spend about 2.5 hours every month on annual archive file handling and file wrap-ups. By moving to a paperless DMS, staff and accountants can find files within seconds, not minutes and hours.

It’s easy to quickly calculate the measurable ROI on a digital DMS and workflow software by multiplying all the costs involved, the number of clients and amount of staff and accountants. Plus, paper, printer and copying charges can be slashed.

There are also  less measurable benefits. For example, when workflow software allows you to move tasks to the resource who has the required skill set and the lightest workload, you can avoid bottlenecks and reduce the risk of missing deadlines.

Collaboration and Advanced Tools

DMS and workflow software can improve ways in which firms work internally and with clients. When only one person can work on a document at a time, bottlenecks and a lag in workflow are common. DMS allows multiple people to view and comment on a single file. Thus collaboration and efficiency are enhanced.

Standardisation and Best Practice

Every accountant knows how to prepare a tax return, but most don’t know how to manage digital documents. Firms not using workflow software can also run into delays that could be avoided if workflow software is used.

In addition to issues surrounding training and education, in the business of accounting, there is no standardisation or universally accepted document management or workflow rules.

The adoption of standardised methods for creating, managing and storing digital documents will result in efficiencies. This is particularly true when it comes to high-volume engagements such as personal tax cases. The right technology and workflows can streamline these areas.

Improved Client Service

When files and documents digital and easy to find, accounting firms increase efficiencies and improve client service. Firms can respond to client requests within minutes, not days.

Instead of digging through boxes of paper, the information is just a few keystrokes away. With workflow software it’s easy to monitor client files.

Examine the ROI and it becomes much easier to take initiative and move forward with DMS and workflow software. The right system should quickly pay for itself.

Written by Don Emery, Doc.It . Exhibiting at Accountex 2018 on stand 1032.

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