Document management used to be just about storing and retrieving files. Being able to easily store document images and other files, and then quickly finding them when you need them, is an important aspect of business record keeping. If you are an accounting or bookkeeping professional offering outsourced services to clients, having a secure way to store and manage client document files from a variety of sources is key to developing workflows and standardizing service delivery. Invoices, bills, bank statements, and all the other paperwork which is generated by various business processes must be captured, accounted for, and retained for future reference and documentation support. With all of this going on, having a secure and easy way to handle all that paper and computer-generated reporting is really important.
Using an electronic document management system isn’t really that much different from dealing with paper filing systems, at least in terms of the process. You obtain the document, you translate it into a journal entry or transaction, and then you file the document away for later use. The difference is simply that the document becomes digital image data and is stored electronically, instead of keeping the paper file around. And, the earlier in the process where you can turn paper documents into digital images, the better, because it reduces the need for “paper-based” processes which take more time and resources, and which may introduce risk of information loss or damage.
In an outsourced bookkeeping arrangement, for example, allowing the client to convert paper to image files is highly desirable as it prevents the outsourcer from having to travel to client offices to obtain paperwork, and reduces the time involved either with traveling to and from client locations or time spent waiting for mailed information to arrive. For the client to handle this process willingly, or with any frequency, tools which are simple to understand and use must be supplied. Scanning a document, saving it to the hard drive, and then trying to find the file to upload later to an accountant “portal” is not a simple process and it is not efficient. If the user is somewhat nontechnical (most business owners?
), or if there is a lot of paperwork to scan and upload, that multi-step process just won’t work for the client.
SmartVault, a solution for QuickBooks-connected and general purpose document management, has an elegant solution to the problem, and it’s called the “InBox”. Just like the inbox on your desk, the SmartVault InBox is where new documents arrive to be processed. The ingenious part is that the InBox is a little applet that gets installed on the client workstation, and provides them with a very simple way to scan files directly to SmartVault. The accountant or bookkeeper then accesses the client files from the inbox and processes and/or attaches them to QuickBooks transactions as required. The client has
only to perform the simple task of telling the SmartVault InBox app to obtain documents fed into the scanner. No local file saving and retrieval required. For the accountant or bookkeeper, the inbox is the first stop in the workflow, and is the place they go to obtain whatever information the client has provided. The SmartVault InBox can also be used to return files easily and securely to clients, bypassing the need to have the client access and log in to a website in order to get the files (but a website portal is also part of the system, just in case the client prefers this method). If providing seamless service and easy to follow procedures describes how you work with your clients, then SmartVault could become a key element in your service delivery.
Affordability and ease of use are important factors to consider when looking for document management solutions for small businesses. In addition, having the ability to store documents from popular small business applications allows users to centrally store and manage all their business documents and files, not just those related to accounting. When users wear many “hats” in the business, and need access to a variety of document types, a centralized filing system is an absolute necessity. SmartVault addresses this by providing direct integration with Microsoft Outlook, Results CRM, and a variety of other popular small business solutions.