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cloudLet's say you're a CPA and a client inconveniently calls you 10 minutes after you've left the office. It probably means the client needs something from you and you likely won't be able to bill the person on the other end of the line who most often just wants a copy of a file.

And you won't be able to access that item from outside the office because that file is stored in one of your jam-packed filing cabinets. The result? Either A) an impatient, unhappy client, or B) an annoying trip back to the office in rush hour.

Let's say you go with option A. Then, to add insult to injury, you email the file to the client the next morning, which exposes  extremely sensitive information to a possible breach. In the worst-case scenario, the client finds out information was breached before you do.

You can be that accountant, or you can be the one in a slightly different scenario:

Your client calls you right after you've left the office and asks for a W-2. Within seconds, you transmit the document through a cloud-based document management app on your mobile phone, which also can access a client portal to share information protected by bank-grade encryption, ensuring your client will neither become impatient nor the victim of breached information.

Long story short, the right technology separates the winners from the losers in the accounting world, and that's why so many accountants are moving toward cloud-based document management technologies with mobile app features.

Of course, document management is about much more than immediate client service. The staggering amount of time paper-dependent accounting practices waste searching for, storing, and needlessly re-creating "lost" information can lead to a lackluster bottom-line.

For instance, the paperlessproject.com reports that the average organization holding 10,000 documents (a conservative figure for accounting firms) will lose 750 of those documents.

A bearable cost, it seems, except the average cost of a lost document amounts to $122, which equals a total loss of $91,500.

The Solution? (Securely) Go Digital
Going entirely digital and storing everything via a Windows file structure technically makes an accounting practice paperless. But that means little without capitalizing on the metadata-enhanced, file-retrieval features and data security of paperless technologies.

Using the right software to ensure clients' security is more important now than at any point in the history of the accounting profession. Not only because data breaches are on the rise, but because the ramifications of unauthorized access to client information are increasingly devastating to both businesses' and individuals' reputations.

Securing information in transit (sending files to clients) is just as important as it is to secure it at rest (storing it on a desktop or software), as roughly half of data breaches occur internally.

Email is still breach-susceptible, and no longer qualifies as a safe medium for sending sensitive information. Although sending a file via email may seem instantaneous and therefore safe, email messages stop in several places between the point of sending and the point of receiving and can be breached at these points.

The Technology Picture
So how does the adoption of cloud-based applications impact these problems and solutions? How do they affect your efficiency and profitability?

The more hours you work as a CPA, the more potential you have to accrue billable hours and, therefore, more income. What's more, the more accessible the resources needed to fulfill your duties as a CPA, the greater the ease of earning those billable hours.

In addition to mobile document management solutions, mac-compatible, cloud-based document management software provide the freedom to work at any time with the convenience and comfort of working in any place there's an internet connection.

Worries about the cloud's ability to secure information have simmered down considerably. And while previously, many accountants feared implementing and learning to use web-based products would require considerable downtime, many are discovering the usability of cloud-based technology.

Most find these technologies extremely intuitive as they can either function like a normal webpage or out-of-browser like a normal software application—helping accountants get up-and-running with paperless technology quickly.

Implementation of cloud-based technology is also simple as it demands no information technology assistance. Hiring one or two temporary employees to scan and upload documents to get the scanning process completed all at once is a common practice.

Additionally, a "phased" implementation is common too, but requires slightly less downtime and entails scanning and uploading documents to the document management solution only when they are touched or used by an employee. Within several months, everything is uploaded.

For more about document management, visit eFilecabinet.

 

James O'Connor
James O’Connor is a senior business writer at eFileCabinet. He advises management in the accounting, financial services, and insurance industries on how to improve their organizations through technology. A University of Utah graduate, he currently resides in Sandy, Utah.
Last modified on Monday, 31 October 2016
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