Estimated reading time: 12 minutes, 45 seconds

In the "2014 Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey and eBook," a report from Insight Research Group and the Network Management Group, Inc., 32 percent of accounting firms reported that the most significant technology challenge they face in the next three years is to enhance workflow and internal efficiency. This challenge tops the list of critical management issues industry-wide. Yet at the same time, the report notes that 59 percent of firms are using no formal document management system, or are still using a paper-based manual system.

There are three major reasons that accounting firms – and particularly small-to-medium-sized firms – are still somewhat hesitant to adopt Document Management:

• Most accounting systems save and store files as PDFs. While this provides a rudimentary level of file storage and retrieval, it fails to consider that client files are no longer just documents, but rather the central repositories of all manner of knowledge and information.
• Some systems are proprietary, or tied to a single accounting program. Access and delivery of documents becomes a challenge if the practitioner does not have the version of software used to create a document from the previous year.
• In order to adopt a DMS system, a firm must abandon existing practices and procedures that are deeply entrenched, well understood and worked for the firm in the past. This includes local file storage, unsecured email and a lack of compliance with mandated client data security.

As document management continues its evolution to become tightly integrated with workflow, smaller firms no longer have the luxury of ignoring document management systems or using home-built solutions. This is an evolution made clear in the current generations of DMS systems featured for 2015.

 

CCH Axcess Document
CCH ProSystem fx Document
Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting U.S.
Riverwoods, Ill.
(800) 739-9998
www.CCHGroup.com
Price: Axcess Document starts at $855 ($8,550 for a ten-person firm) and ProSystem fx Document starts at $2,940 ($9,915 for a ten-person firm). ProSystem fx Document, 45 percent annual maintenance fee.

 

CCH Axcess Document
CCH ProSystem fx Document
The two document management solutions offered by CCH Axcess Document (a cloud-based solution) and ProSystem fx Document (for on-premises document management) have been streamlined to reduce steps for critical accounting workflows, including adding files to the system, storing and tax returns and related workpapers, and searching for and retrieving files.

In addition, CCH Axcess Document integrates tightly with the CCH Axcess platform and both products integrate with CCH Axcess Portal and ProSystem fx Engagement when collaborating on an audit or exchanging tax returns and workpapers with clients.The portal is also accessible by a mobile companion application anytime/anywhere.

The current version of both products, released in November 2014, featured enhancements that included Encryption at Rest, a file export utility that encrypts customer data that has been prepared for export; performance and scalability improvements; and security improvements.

The next planned release is 2014 – 3.5, and will include numerous minor enhancements relating to the Entity ID; drag-and-drop capabilities; security; the ability to rename extended storage folders.

 

Doc.It Suite 4
Doc.It Corp. US
Las Vegas, Nev.
(888) 693-6248
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: First 10 users, $35 per user per month; 11 to 30 users, $30 per user per month; 31 and above users, $25 per user per month.

 

Doc.It Suite
Doc.It Suite allows accountants to manage documents as they gather, process, store and deliver their documents using Doc.It Suite applications that include the Work Binder, Workflow, Archive and Web Portal. The software is designed to ease the flow of work into and through a firm by centralizing document storage while creating efficiencies in retrieval, collaboration, and the exchange of documents with clients.

Key elements of version 4 include a redesigned main dashboard, with a full set of integrated tools; an inbox that enhances workflow for temporary storage and routing of all printed or scanned PDFs; and a scan and organize function with optical character recognition making the words in all documents searchable and advanced forms recognition (AFR) technology used to identify documents by type, automatically applying naming conventions before placing them in to the correct folder.

Version 4 also includes a web portal for the secure exchange of documents with clients; a customized report generator; workflow to manage projects and track due dates and support for every engagement type, with seamless integration with the Main Dashboard toolset; a PDF Editor with all of the tools accounting professionals need and rely on; document publishing that makes a PDF snapshot of all documents associated with an engagement and combines them into a single fully-indexed PDF as a complete record of the finalized engagement; full search capabilities; and a cloud enabled platform with mobile features or any time/anywhere access via a laptop, iPad, or android tablet.

With the major redesign and enhancements of this latest version, the Doc-It Suite provides a fully-integrated suite of products that allow accounting professionals to continue to use their cornerstone software while enjoying the productivity gains of a developed workflow system.

 

Drake Document Manager
Drake Software
Franklin, N.C
(800) 890-9500
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Price: included in Drake Tax Software Suite at $300 for 15 returns, with additional returns $20 each. Unlimited use is $1,095 per year.

 

Drake Document Manager
Drake Document Manager is the document storage extension incorporated into the Drake Software Suite since 2005. DDM offers tight integration with Drake Tax Software, Drake e-Sign, and a web-based secure file exchange product, SecureFilePro; highly flexible cabinet/drawer customization; and a built-in backup solution.

Files can be added to the Drake Document Manager by printing with the included PDF print utility, manually adding files to the system, or by dragging and dropping items into a DDM window. The application is compatible with TWAIN compliant scanners, but does not support other scanner protocols such as ISIS.

Key features of the DDM are its customizable organization, modeled after a physical file system of cabinets, drawers and folders; import and export features, integrated email and multi-year storage capabilities.

New in the most recent version was integration of a new e-Sign application with the Document Manager. The e-Sign application enables preparers and taxpayers to digitally sign the tax documents for an e-filed tax return, making it possible to achieve a completely paperless workflow. PDFs of the documents are created with fillable fields and stored automatically in the Document Manager directories for the client. Partially signed documents in DDM can be opened via the e-Sign app from within the DDM.

 

eFileCabinet
Lehi, Utah
(877) 574-5505
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.efilecabinet.com
Price: Most popular of three subscription plans, Professional bundle, $45 per user per month, billed annually. Additional pricing information: http://www.efilecabinet.com/efilecabinet-desktop/#plans-pricing.

 

eFileCabinet
eFileCabinet is a desktop and online document management system that provides simple implementation, advanced integrations, enhanced compliance and security features and straightforward pricing.

The latest version for 2015 was released in January of this year with enhancements to both versions of eFileCabinet. The current version includes a free mobile app for iOS and Android; integrations (and menu buttons to 'save to eFC') in QuickBooks, Microsoft Office, RightSignature (digital signatures) and SalesForce; as well as the company's award-winning web portal, SecureDrawer, for safe sending of large, confidential files to clients/partners. Also provided are measures to ensure compliance with HIPAA, FINRA, SEC and other regulations. Role-base security, alerts, audit controls and retention policies ensure that accounting professionals operate with appropriate attention to security.

eFileCabinet Online provides additional security at the data-center level, with advanced encryption and security to protect client data. The data centers are Level 1 PCI compliant and have obtained ISO 27001, SAS 70 Type II and HIPAA certifications. Access is restricted by staff, intrusion detection systems and video surveillance. For maximum security, data is encrypted while being transmitted to and from data centers. Data cannot be accessed or tampered with by an unauthorized party.

 

GoFileRoom with FirmFlow
EFileCabinet CS
Thomson Reuters
Dexter Mich.
(800) 968-8900
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Price: Price for a typical 10-person firm starts $850 per month for GoFileRoom and FirmFlow; without FirmFlow for $690 per month for 10 users. FileCabinet CS starts at $1,800. Pricing for an eight user firm would be approximately $2,360 for the first year and $725 for subsequent years .

 

GoFileRoom with FirmFlow
EFileCabinet CS
Thomson Reuters offers two major products for document management – EfileCabinet CS, integrated into the CS Professional Suite; and GofileRoom, which offers more sophisticated workflow support.

FileCabinet CS provides seamless integration with CS Professional Suite, enabling automatic labeling, storage and organization of documents originating in other CS Professional Suite applications. In particular, integration with Net Client CS allows for one-at-a-time or a global push of chosen documents to the client's portal, making administration of client portals simpler. FileCabinet CS allows users to scan tax documents and use OCR technology to organize and label source documents. It also offers source document processing (scan and fill) capabilities, allowing information from source documents to be automatically populated in UltraTax CS; and storage of backups from other CS Professional Suite applications.

GoFileRoom and FirmFlow offer integrated document management and workflow, which provides digital routing of all documents and information related to an engagement or project in one system. Documents can be added to GoFileRoom and automatically indexed from multiple sources, including desktop, scanners, Outlook, and the web. Because GoFileRoom and FirmFlow are web-native applications, documents and workflow tasks can be shared with across geographies/offices, increasing the efficiency and collaboration among staff.

FirmFlow reports provide firm management critical information related to engagement status, lead times, bottlenecks, and resource constraints. These reports provide data that allows firm management to measure the performance of the firm, set improvement targets, and measure progress toward those targets. The data also allows management to proactively identify and respond to resource issues.

New features in GoFileRoom fall 20124 release included enhanced HIPAA compliance; compatibility with Office 2013, IE 11, and Windows 8.1; and an improved add-in update/installation process.

 

QuickBooks Document Management Center
SmartVault
Intuit
Mountain View, Calif.
(800) 446-8842
http://www.intuit.com/
Price: QuickBooks Online Accountant is free for accounting professionals for 180 days starting from the first day of enrollment. They maintain full access with a ProAdvisor membership or if they have at least one QuickBooks Online client on their QuickBooks Online Accountant client list.

QuickBooks Document Management Center
SmartVault
Intuit offers two document management systems – the Document Management Center for secure storage, retrieval and communication of QuickBooks documents; and SmartVault, a robust solution for all accounting and client documents.

In 2010, Intuit released QuickBooks Document Management, which allowed users to store documents online on Intuit servers (in the cloud) for a monthly fee. The following year, the document management feature was incorporated into QuickBooks Attached Documents, which also gave users the option to store documents locally (in addition to the cloud storage option). Intuit introduced the Doc Center in 2012, which gave users free local storage of their documents. However, it was the only storage option offered (cloud storage was eliminated). It is currently the only document management option available to users of QuickBooks 2013 as well, and support for this product has been discontinued.

The Cloud-Based SmartVault offers online document storage supporting 24/7 access to documents anytime-anywhere and from any device. It enables a fully customizable folder structure within SmartVault, giving complete control of how and where documents are stored. Two-way sync functionality provides for automatic updating of information in QuickBooks when changed in SmartVault, or the other way around. It enables a fully customizable folder structure within SmartVault, giving complete control of how and where documents are stored. It provides storage in a secure data center, with document encryption and authentication on a foundation of granular security permissions and the ability to send secure file links via email.

Dave McClure

David P. McClure is a technologist and business consultant whose career has included eight years with the NASA Space Shuttle Program and assignments in marketing, environmental services, software publishing and broadband.  He founded the US Internet Industry Association, the nation's primary trade association for Internet and broadband companies.  In 2004 he was awarded a Cornerstone Award for leadership in the broadband industry.  In the same year, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, the non-profit corporation that oversees the nation's $8 billion universal service telecommunications fund.  His areas of expertise include software management, strategic and market planning, global technology policy and technology audits.  He is the author of more than 100 white papers on business management, technology, customer service and strategic planning.

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 May 2015
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