The most complimentary things we hear accountants say about their practice’s Document Management system are: “It's all right” & “It does the job.” Read on to learn why and how this must change.
The problems run deep
Putting ‘damning with faint praise’ to one side, many practices describe document management as among their most pressing problems within their accountancy IT strategy. Because it not only consumes a significant amount of their advisor’s time, both for filing and retrieval of documents, but it often presents a GDPR nightmare.
Another rarely noted issue is the need for continuous context and application switching throughout a user’s workflow. The Harvard Business Review claims that the average desk-based employee suffered a 40% decrease in productivity due to having to focus on multiple systems in the course of completing a single task. (This issue is of course endemic for accountants.)
When speaking to junior people within a practice, there is a general lack of clarity as to what needs to be filed and where it ought to go. We regularly hear complaints that “people save the email but not the attachment”, and if there is automatic filing of emails, you have the issue that everyone on the chain saves duplicates.
Some more traditionally setup practices still have a series of file servers, with a convoluted historic folder structure to match. The productivity sacrifice and potential for data loss are difficult to exaggerate.
Software providers have finally solved one of the biggest accountancy IT challenges.
Thankfully there are modern solutions. One which we’re rather excited about resolves all of the reoccurring issues which are common to accountants, while simultaneously enabling significant advances in functionality and workflow efficiency.
Specialists Repstor (from Intapp) takes the power of Microsoft 365 (which most have barely scratched the surface of) and enables a practice to use collaboration and file natively without switching applications. It’s easy and instinctive for users to access and collaborate on shared content. The brilliance of the system is down to providing seamless extensions to popular everyday systems like Outlook and Teams. The secret ingredient is that the Outlook plug-in is truly native.
This is one of the best ways for a practice to drive greater efficiency, productivity, and robust information compliance in its client engagements. It provides a joined-up view of all activities that collaborating teams can rely on as the definitive view of the status of each client account.
Another important plank that needs to be in place for a platform to be regarded as modern, is fully featured mobility. The smartphone should be as powerful as the desktop for getting things done. Another essential ingredient is intuitive design. Everyone should know how to use the new system, little to no training required. User adoption should be viral within a practice, that’s how you know you’ve implemented a system which pre-empted the desire path.
It’s pretty exciting to watch a formerly struggling practice transformed by a single application.