Handling 2017 Accounting and Tax Prep Trends with Software for Document Management

Software for document management can solve some of the accounting industry’s biggest challenges. and in 2017, there’s a long list of concerns for accountants, auditors, and tax prep professionals to care about and keep top of mind. The good news is the list of solutions and ways to attenuate these concerns is much shorter than the list of concerns itself.

To simplify the challenges of today’s marketplace and competitive environment, software for document management is proving to be requisite to accounting professionals and departments in search of ways to simplify a series of complex, emergent trends, which are impacting the accounting profession in the ways that follow.

Competing with Self Service Technologies

Ensuring human analysis trumps self-service technologies in the accounting market requires greater strategy and preparation from today’s accountants than ever.

The power of automation has been and is being further revealed in its ability to replace the computational strengths of some accountants. Compound this with the sheer number of massive tax preparation firms offering low-cost services, and CPAs are forced to clarify their value-driving differentiators to prospective clients.

But numerical analysis and forecasting remain tricks of the human trade — heuristic skills that self-service technologies will likely fail to replicate with full semblance of human thought until the 22ndcentury.

Although consumers of accounting services remain uninformed about the downfalls of self-service accounting technologies when contrasted with human accounting skill, that doesn’t make accountants any less susceptible to the flawed decision-making of consumers.

As consumers and business owners strive to save money and take the quickest, most convenient routes to completing tax and accounting services available, the battle for accountants to stay relevant intensifies, and even forms a broader discussion about a fear running rampant in the accounting community — the fear of becoming obsolete.

Ironically, although technology can replace some accounting services, it can also accentuate the strength of human expertise in the accounting process, provided software for document management is that accentuating technology.

Document management technologies don’t replace human expertise in the accounting profession. They simply free up the resources necessary to strengthen said expertise.

Why Software for Document Management Helps

Investors have become more meticulous about the accounting controls set in motion within an organization, and given the rapid proliferation of data, failing to rely on technology solutions that touch every portion of the business process will prevent accounting firms, auditors, and CPAs from leveraging all the insight and data they need to make informed decisions, including the security measures that have taken center stage in an era typified by data breach. “Tax returns are the holy grail for the bad guys,” notes FBI security expert, Chris Swecker.

Web-based client portals are one of the features software for document management uses to mitigate data proliferation and security breach concerns for accountants.

For instance, in leveraging information security, web-based client portals with bank-grade encryption and secure socket layer encryption will keep investors, accounting firms, and bookkeeping services companies safe and in control of their data.

In addition to the security these portals provide, they also give accountants the tools they need to securely share a large volume of files at any size.

Operational Concerns

The operations of an accounting practice or consultancy are inseparable from revenue an accounting entity will generate, especially in consideration of all the changes the industry is facing in terms of tax laws and varying technology strategies.

Using document management technologies to smooth these barriers to operational excellence can save time, reduces headaches, and ensure profitability.

Finding ways to keep track of information through software for document management will also safeguard against accounting errors, as it’ll help keep financial documents retrievable and easily found, further adding to the strength of double-entry accounting systems.

How Software for Document Management Helps

Although most accountants using software for document management have typically used on premises solutions, the cloud is becoming increasingly crucial in providing the accessibility and responsiveness that clients demand, and more accountants are gravitating toward cloud-based technology.

The cloud also provides a path for accountants to carve out a stronger foothold in the industry when competing with traditional accounting departments in organizations, as it expands flexibility and reduces the administrative costs normally associated with on premises document management technologies.

The bookkeeping process is paper-intensive without technological intervention, and paper-dependent processes bog down workflow, productivity, and effective operations management for accounting businesses.

Leveraging software for document management helps keep the balance sheets, cash flow statements, and other financial statements in good health — for both accountants and the clients they serve.

Sarbanes-Oxley

Sarbanes-Oxley emerged over 15 years ago, but it still has large implications in today’s accounting world. It produced the PCAOB, and unrolled red tape between numerous accounting firms and potential clients.

It also divided accounting services into greater niches, and demanded that accountants garner greater expertise in fewer niches of the industry — reducing the potential reach many firms had prior to the enactment of the law.

Why Software for Document Management Helps

Although Sarbanes-Oxley poses some significant challenges for accounting and tax professionals, it also presented an auspicious opportunity for those willing to roll up their sleeves and learn new accounting technologies.

The law has imposed safeguards for whistleblowing in the accounting industry, but also provides stricter penalties than ever for failing to report incidents of fraud to the authorities. Keeping all accounting records and tax documents stored safely and securely within the system, and ensuring they’re easily retrieved, can make it easier to abide by the demands imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.

Marketing Challenges

Most accountants, by nature, do not enjoy marketing. That, and marketers or accountants striving to be marketers for their accounting firms, face a unique set of differentiation challenges in light of industry trends and increased competition. However, highlighting the security of an accounting firm’s specialties is a good place to begin, and software for document management makes this easier.

How Software for Document Management Helps

The web portal function outlined above makes driving traffic to a firm’s website easier. In fact, relying on a web portal will drive a commensurate increase in traffic to an accounting practice’s website, as users of the portal will increase traffic to the accounting website’s domain name, therein raising visibility in the search engines and increasing security for clients.

In fact, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), as they are administered by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), may begin to weave document management technology into its strictures when addressing and setting standards for those in the accounting profession.

Sources: Accountancy in the United States, MarketLine Industry Profile

Accountancy in the United States, MarketLine Industry Profile, November 2016, at https://app.avention.com/API/Report/ApplinkPDF/API/Custom/GetIndustryReport.aspx? Report=MARKETRESEARCH&Type=GetReport&FileFormat=PDF&ReportID=60318&FileName=0072–0415–2014.pdf&VendorName=Datamonitor Accountancy in the United States, MarketLine Industry Profile, November 2016, at https://app.avention.com/API/Report/ApplinkPDF/API/Custom/GetIndustryReport.aspx? Report=MARKETRESEARCH&Type=GetReport&FileFormat=PDF&ReportID=60318&FileName=0072–0415–2014.pdf&VendorName=Datamonitor Accountancy in the United States, MarketLine Industry Profile, November 2016, at https://app.avention.com/API/Report/ApplinkPDF/API/Custom/GetIndustryReport.aspx? Report=MARKETRESEARCH&Type=GetReport&FileFormat=PDF&ReportID=60318&FileName=0072–0415–2014.pdf&VendorName=Datamonitor


Originally published at www.efilecabinet.com on May 17, 2017.

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