Get all the right tools and train staff on how they should be used and incorporated into their work.
Paperless is not just about purchasing a document management system – there are a number of elements that need to come together to enable your team adopt your paperless policy:
1. Dual Screens
These are a must and are now standard equipment in most firms. They allow for paperless data entry for the preparer and for electronic review by the reviewer.
This may incorporate centralised multi-function printer/copier/scanners or may be scanners attached to individual workstations. Look for one with at least a 50 page document feed that scans at 35ppm, can scan duplex and has a small footprint on the desktop. It may be pricey, but it’s a worthwhile investment.
3. PDF Converter
This eliminates the need to print and scan documents to convert them to an electronic format. There are many applications available with the most commonly used being Adobe. HowNow® has a PDF convertor incorporated into the software.
4. PaperPort software
You may need to use software such as PaperPort to enable you to point the scanner to a document management system. Not all desktop scanners come with the appropriate software to enable you to point to an application, so you may need to purchase this separately. Most scanners come with scan buttons that can be setup for various types of scanning jobs.
5. Document & Email Management
You need a system that is easily accessible by all with a flexible search function so that documents can be quickly and easily located. The system must also be capable of storing different types of files.
6. Electronic Workpapers
If your staff are using manual (pen‐on‐paper) workpapers in the completion of client assignments, your firm is not enjoying the time saving efficiencies offered by electronic workpapers. Electronic workpapers are simply templates in a spreadsheet format such as Microsoft® Excel. A well designed electronic workpaper template includes many optional worksheets to cater for a wide array of possible client matters. The file also facilitates notation by the preparer of matters that require the attention of their manager or Partner/Principal, and includes areas for reviewer comments and sign‐off.
It is then important to ensure your team have adequate and current training on all of the elements listed – without proper training, the transition to paperless will be a difficult one.
Remember that people learn in many different ways and you need to be willing to consider different training methods to cater to various learning styles.
For more help with your paperless journey, head to www.businessfitness.net.