The simple answer is – absolutely, yes. But why?
Poor document management can be costs time, money and space:
- Australian office workers are wasting up to $187 million each day waiting for printouts.[i]
- The total cost of printing, copying, storing and mailing is 10 times the original purchase price of the paper itself.[ii]
- The cost to file a single paper document is $20, while searching for a misfiled document costs $120 and reproducing a lost document is estimated to cost $220.[iii]
Effective document management offers businesses of all types a valuable opportunity to save thousands, if not millions, of dollars each year from their bottom line. However, most businesses don’t understand the significance of this opportunity and, even if they do, they don’t understand how to go about improving the situation.
Effective document management affords businesses the following benefits:
1. It saves time
- Documents can be retrieved in a fraction of the time that it takes using paper files or Windows®
- Merge documents (such as letters, checklists and reports) can be quickly and easily created with client or customer data automatically inserted.
- Templates and precedent documents can be easily used to allow for faster job turn-around times.
- New staff members can be brought up to speed more quickly.
2. It saves money
- On average, office workers each spend a minimum of 25 days a year searching for information.[iv] Based on Business Fitness’s work with accounting practices and SMEs, we understand that effective document management can save up to 20-30 minutes per person per day (or 10 to 16 days per year), which quickly adds up to improved productivity and overall business profitability.
- Less paper used in the office means more available office space (as the need for filing cabinets lessens), which in turn can mean savings in office rental or off-site storage facilities.
3. It reduces risk
- The consistent and centralised filing of emails and file notes across the entire business enhances your risk management procedures by reducing the likelihood of these key documents going missing.
- The audit trail function provided by select document management systems strengthens quality assurance processes.
- The standardisation of work processes (through the use of templates, precedents and procedures) improves the consistency and quality of work undertaken in the business and helps to minimise the risk of error or defectiveness in output.
4. It improves the way staff communicate
- All staff can quickly and easily see all documents, emails and files notes relating to a particular client, customer or job, thereby facilitating proper “knowledge sharing” among team members.
5. It increases management’s control over the work carried out
- Effective document management means effective workflow management, which provides management with the ability to easily and quickly assess the status of any work in progress across the business at any time, as well as the available capacity of their various staff members.
- By having all documents centrally stored, the dependence of the business on any key person is substantially diminished – the business no longer runs the risk of all of the business “know how” walking out the door at the end of each day.
6. It provides significant underlying support to business succession planning
- A company with strong document management will attract higher valuations because it allows for a smoother transition to the new owner or operator.
Why is doc management particularly important for accounting firms?
An accounting firm is a document-intensive organisation. Each year a firm creates and receives—and therefore needs to store and manage—many thousands of documents in the form of workpapers, ATO correspondence, financial statements, tax returns, checklists, forms, letters, emails, file notes, accounting data files, and so on.
To efficiently manage and control a large volume of documents requires a Document Management System.
Five or more years ago a DMS was considered something that was appropriate only for large organisations. As new technologies take us further into the digital age, a DMS is now a prerequisite for the modern, efficient accounting firm, no matter the size the of the firm.
Another driver of DMS adoption is the increasingly litigious business environment that makes thorough record keeping not just ‘best practice’ but essential practice. Using a paper-based filing system, documents can take many days to be retrieved if they have been archived. Using a DMS, such documents can be retrieved in seconds, along with ‘audit trail’ information regarding the history of the document’s creation, editing and approvals processes. This puts a firm in an excellent position from a risk management perspective.
[i] Source: Galaxy Research – Office Printers Study (February 2010)
[ii] Source: Kofax White Paper: The Business Case for Automating Document Driven Business Processes (2010)
[iii] Source: Kofax White Paper: The Business Case for Automating Document Driven Business Processes (2010)
[iv] IBM Blog (20 January 2011), viewed 17 March 2011, <https://www-950.ibm.com/blogs/gopaperlesswithwebdocs/?lang=en_us>