As an accounting firm, you and your team members work with lots of different types of documents almost every day. But if you aren’t efficiently managing these documents, it can put a serious damper on your productivity and lead to a lot of wasted time and resources trying to find the right file or figure out where a document may be in a particular process.
With the right accounting practice management software, document management can be turned from a time sink into a point of leverage that allows your business to get more done in less time. It can also be an important method of impressing clients and improving your firm’s retention rate. Below are just a few of the ways that practice management software can level up your document management.
According to the Electronic Signature & Records Association (ESRA), an electronic signature is defined as “an electronic sound, symbol or process that is attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”
In other words, it serves the same function that a traditional pen signature has held for hundreds of years: showing confirmation that a party agrees to the terms set forth in a specific document. Accountants and their clients might sign dozens of different forms for various purposes throughout the course of a typical workweek.
But instead of the traditional method requiring someone to print out a document, sign it, and either mail it or drop it off in person, eSignature software allows a client, colleague, or supervisor to provide a legally-binding signature directly from their computer or mobile device. In most cases, eSignature tools don’t require a special tool or reader device.
Some research suggests that using eSignatures instead of the traditional pen and paper method can save users over 50% when you account for administrative costs and time spent dealing with paper documents.
Set Granular Permission Levels for the Team
Most organizations that deal with a lot of different documents associated with different clients need to ensure that they have proper permissions in place. For example, certain team members may only need to read or access client files, while others should be able to edit, create or delete files.
The best kind of document management software offers granular permission functionality – meaning you can set permissions for each individual folder at every sublevel of a shared client drive or portal. Features like these help you cut down on errors and can relieve some of the stress your team feels about the potential of accidentally deleting a critical file or folder. They also help with security since only authorized users will have access to sensitive documents or financial statements.
Take advantage of templates
While accounting firms have to send, receive, and edit a large number of documents in a typical workday, it’s also necessary to create new documents. This typically happens for things like reports, account statements, audits, and other normal aspects of accounting client engagements.
But if your team has to create every new document from scratch, it can add a significant amount of time and effort to the process. It also creates more opportunities for mistakes – the more elements your team has to rely on creating from memory, the more likely it is for something to go wrong. Even if they are copying from an existing document, there’s plenty of room for error during the transfer process.
With templates, the chance of a mistake is completely eliminated from the creation of a form or document. The team member responsible for creating a template just has to make a few clicks and create a unique title for the document.
Conclusion: Practice management software levels up your documents
It's a truth in almost every industry: in a service business, it doesn’t matter how sharp your skills are or how great the final product is – if you don’t have a plan for properly handling the administrative side of the operation, the best case scenario is a constraint on your firm’s ability to grow past a specific number of clients.
In a worst-case situation, poor document management can lead to a negative impact on your reputation among clients or a serious data breach that causes fees and legal problems for the firm.
On the other hand, effective document management can be a lubricant that keeps the wheels of your operation running smoothly and efficiently. Modern accounting practice management software includes features like eSignatures, granular permission functionality, and pre-made templates that can be created in a few seconds. Not only do these tools help protect you from the potential negative impact of mistakes in your document management process, but they can also help your team get more done in less time, which in the long run will end up increasing revenues and employee satisfaction while minimizing overhead for the firm. Schedule a Free Demo with Mango Practice Management.