Preparers and reviewers aren’t the only ones who experience workload compression. CPA admins and accounting firm assistants also struggle during peak season. Outdated, paper-based processes to gather, scan, and deliver client documents can overextend your staff and limit your firm’s potential.

A digital document workflow is the gold standard approach to reducing admin work. The benefits of digital document management are twofold: efficiency goes up and admin staff burnout goes down.

Here are five ways to reduce admin work and boost productivity with modern solutions.

5. Stop printing and mailing tax paper organizers

Tax paper organizers used to be the best way to request client documents, questionnaires, and signatures in one transaction. The downside? CPA admins and accounting firm assistants had to physically assemble and mail multipage envelopes for every client. Even after the switch to online portals, admins spent hours manually generating and uploading PDFs.

Today’s advanced digital options enable bulk distribution of engagement letters, document request lists (DRLs), and questionnaires—without the manual strain. A well-designed taxpayer collaboration platform will integrate with your tax software to automatically customize DRLs based on proforma data. This transforms the hours your admins once spent assembling traditional organizers into a few clicks.

We’ve researched five of the top taxpayer collaboration platforms on the market. Read more in our Learning Center.→

4. Stop piecemeal gathering

Tom Taxpayer sends his W-2 back with his paper organizer. A couple weeks later, his 1095-C appears in ADP, so he uploads the PDF to his tax professional’s online portal. Right as he’s leaving for a business trip, a K-1 arrives in the mail. He doesn’t have much time, so he snaps a blurry photo with his phone and emails it to his tax professional.

Sound familiar? This piecemeal approach to gathering creates strain on CPA admins and accounting firm assistants, who must manually consolidate client files.

Streamline your admin workflow with these gather phase upgrades:

  • Retire gathering via snail mail
    Processing incoming paper mail is an unnecessary drain on admin resources in today’s digital world.
  • Gather through one channel
    An all-in-one platform can accept documents, questionnaires, signatures, and more through one channel. Both your clients and admin staff will appreciate the simplicity.
  • Let technology do some heavy lifting
    An effective taxpayer platform can automatically track which deliverables are outstanding and remind clients on your admins’ behalf.

3. Stop scanning, start importing

Leading financial institutions upload tax documents directly to their clients’ accounts. Many support secure third-party integrations. If your taxpayer platform offers this feature, you can direct your clients to provide a one-time authorization per account, and tax documents like 1099s will be automatically retrieved.

The integration advantage to both admins and preparers is that tax documents will arrive the same day they’re issued. This resolves the scramble to process a wave of documents close to the deadline.

2. Stop routing piles of workpapers through the office

CPA admins and accounting firm assistants are often responsible for managing document storage. If your firm stores paper documents, this means time-consuming trips to the file room.

Cloud storage is the modern gold standard. Moving files to a secure cloud environment removes the need for physical storage space, which frees up square footage. Your admins can manage files without leaving their workstations. And any authorized user can instantly locate specific records with a search function. This not only streamlines the administrative workflow, but benefits the whole firm.

To become an advanced cloud user, implement workpaper management software that enables your tax professionals to prepare workpapers directly in the cloud. Your CPA admins will no longer need to route workpapers through the office.

Did you know? Cloud storage gives authorized users the ability to securely access documents from any location. You can use this flexibility to create a hybrid office and attract top accounting talent.

1. Start working toward a 100% digital, paperless goal

Your firm probably uses digital tax solutions in some capacity already, but do admins benefit from your tech stack? Embracing a 100% digital document workflow eliminates manual work and bottlenecks for your entire staff, not just preparers and reviewers.

Are you ready to convert your tax process to the cloud? This type of organizational change doesn’t happen overnight. Consider taking a step-by-step approach to get your firm on the path to paperless efficiency.

Review your firm’s current workflow and determine where you have opportunities to digitize. Set a target date to go fully paperless and assess which incremental steps you can take to reach that goal. Identify advocates in each area—admins, preparers, and reviewers—to ensure your entire staff stays informed and involved.

Here are some questions to ask as you investigate your firm’s paperless potential:

  • Where is our current process getting delayed and why?
  • Where are our technology gaps?
  • What solutions are available to us?
  • Which solutions integrate with our existing tax software?

Implementing an end-to-end digital document workflow

With the right tools, your firm can unlock an efficient, flexible workflow designed for the future of business. A taxpayer collaboration platform is only one part of a holistic approach to the 1040 process. Evaluate cloud-based preparation and review tools that integrate with your CPA admin solutions. A digital workflow that is end-to-end will generate maximum efficiency gains.

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