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Review: Document Management - Bringing Order to Chaos

When it comes to documents, many accountants used to be prime candidates for a spot on the television show “Hoarders.” Their offices were filled with stacks of folders and nothing was ever thrown away. Cluttered desks became something of a trademark. Thanks to new technology and paperless offices, what used to be physical mounds of paper have become virtual mounds of electronic records. Sometimes the information stored in those electronic mounds can as hard to find as holiday decorations in a California garage.

But there is hope. From basic desktop applications to cloud-based solutions, there are a number of tools that can turn those piles of documents into meaningful, searchable data. In addition to indexing and data retrieval tools, some applications also offer encryption and lockdown features that make it easier for firms to comply with record retention and auditing standards.

Document management tools are designed to serve different needs. Some are built to manage tax returns and related documents while others are designed to be the central repository for all firm documents. They can be desktop or internet-accessible, but for firms of all sizes, document management tools are a critical component of a successful paperless strategy.

We’ll see how these five solutions compare:

•   AccountantsWorld CyberCabinet
•    CCH ProSystem fx Document
•    DOC.IT DM
•    FileCabinet CS
•    Lacerte Document Management System


CyberCabinet
AccountantsWorld
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366
www.accountantsworld.com
Price: $495 per year or $49 per month.

CyberCabinet
AccountantsWorld offers CyberCabinet as a file sharing and offsite storage solution.

AccountantsWorld LogoCyberCabinet is delivered via the Web and is purchased by monthly subscription. The product provides all the benefits you would expect from a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering: remote access, secure offsite storage, and shared data access for client collaboration. It can store uploaded files in any format except exe.

CyberCabinet appears to have more in common with file sharing applications like Leapfile than document management products. It lacks both annotation tools and event tracking capabilities although it provides basic information about stored files: name, date of upload, user name. The product does integrate with other AccountantsWorld products including Accountants Relief and Payroll Relief.

If electronic file storage and accessible secure files are your top needs, CyberCabinet is an affordable option for your firm.

CCH ProSystem fx Document

CCH
Riverwoods, Ill.
(888) 224-7377
www.cch.com
Price: Document (SaaS) starts at $650 per user, per year for the first 10 users.

CCH ProSystem fx Document

According to CCH, document management tools should do three things for CCH logoaccountants: let them store, use, and find client information.

ProSystem fx Document stores files by version in their native formats. Once stored, a file can be flagged for notification when document retention periods have expired. The product includes annotation tools and a unique internal discussion tool that allows you to store conversations with the associated document. Optional integration with ProSsystem fx’s Scan makes it easy to get information from client records to a tax return.

Users can customize their view of stored information via six customizable panels in the Document dashboard. To simplify client communication, Document also offers a secure e-mail management system that features drag and drop integration with Microsoft Outlook.

In the event of an audit, Document’s grouping tool lets you use assigned tags to quickly assemble related documents while extensive search options help you locate documents from word searches.

Document can be delivered via a traditional deployment or online and offers a depth of features that can help firms take control of their electronic records.


DOC.IT D
M

DocIt
Las Vegas, Nev. 
(888) 693-6248  Ext. 1
www.doc-it.com
Price: Doc.It Suite, $30 per user, per month.

DOC.IT DM
To DOC.IT DM, document management is the cornerstone of a paperless office.
DOC.IT is designed to protect the integrity of source documents while facilitating interactive client communications. Once stored in DOC.IT, documents are automatically converted to a PDF format and compressed.  They can be doc itannotated and electronically signed, but not altered.

The product includes a powerful search engine and folder-based security to ensure authorized users are able to locate the files they need. Selected files can then be e-mailed directly from Outlook.

DOC.IT is a viable option for firms looking to store electronic documents.


FileCabinet CS
Thomson Reuters
Dexter, Mich.
(800) 765-7777
http://cs.thomsonreuters.com
Price: $1,500.

FileCabinet CS
Thomson views FileCabinet as the center of its workflow management solution and the entire CS Professional Suite. But as you might expect from its name, FileCabinet is primarily an organization and indexing tool.  Thomson’s easy to use menu tree makes client files readily available so they can be reviewed, annotated, or securely e-mailed directly to clients.  Once embedded, Microsoft Office files thomson reuters logocan be edited directly from FileCabinet.

To make sense of the data within scanned documents, users access the Source Document module which adds OCR processing, data extraction and other capabilities via a connection to the Thomson Reuters data center. Extracted information flows from the data center through a couple of additional steps before going directly into individual tax returns in UltraTaxCS. 

FileCabinet includes some time-saving features such as automatic recognition of client information so that tax returns can flow directly from UltraTax CS into the correct FileCabinet folder. Once assigned to a client folder, each page of client information is automatically numbered and named.

Event histories let you keep track of client correspondence and any changes made to stored documents. 

Thomson’s FileCabinetCS offers firms an easy way to manage their electronic data trail. 

Lacerte Document Management System

Intuit
Plano, Texas
(800) 968-8900
www.lacertesoftware.com
Price: $830 ($660 Initial License Fee, plus $170 annual maintenance).

Lacerte Document Management System
Lacerte’s Document Management System (DMS) is designed specifically for use with tax returns.

Lacerte LogoDMS integrates with Lacerte’s tax software and can store scanned images or files created directly from Microsoft Office applications. Once installed, DMS is treated as an additional printer, available for use by all programs installed on a given computer or network. It builds a searchable database of information for viewing, editing, faxing or e-mailing securely. Other files, like spreadsheets or Word documents, can be imported in their native format for editing.

Lacerte’s Tax Document Management System brings tax information together in one place.








Geni Whitehouse CPA.CITP, CSPM
Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the Founder of Even a Nerd Can Be Heard, an organization focused on communication skills for smart people.  With past roles ranging from partner in a CPA firm to leader of the technology practice in a firm, she has a wide range of experiences to share.  She is a former software company executive and industry analyst and a two-time graduate of the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe. She is passionate about finding interesting ways to talk about what some might consider boring subjects and has discovered that there is no shortage of material. She is the author of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting : 52 ways even a nerd can be heard.
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