I went back to the year before we did any scanning and compared hours. We dropped about 20% on hours spent processing roughly the same amount of tax returns.
— David Kelling, CPA and President, Kelling, Bocovich & Co., LTD
David Kelling, CPA and President of Kelling, Bocovich & Co., LTD knows all too well the inefficiencies of working with paper files. Just a few years ago, his firm still supported a paper-heavy tax workflow. But not anymore…
“We used to spend a lot of time shifting papers back and forth. This was the biggest reason for making the move to a scanning system—so that we could finally go paperless,” Kelling explained.
In the first year of their paperless transition (2010), firm leaders implemented a basic scan and organize solution for handling source files, which they discovered did not offer a great deal of value beyond spitting out a bookmarked PDF.
“The first tool we used really only offered bookmarks. It didn’t support review notes or a standard tree, which are critical for maintaining an organized and efficient tax process,” said Jayme Lee Kilbo, staff accountant. “It was more of a glorified sorter than a true scan and organize solution.”
Kelling added, “Even with the [original] scanning solution in place, we still had to write review comments on paper; there was no way to link comments with files. This did not improve workflow efficiency.” In 2012, firm partners were back on the search for a better solution. They discovered SurePrep’s 1040SCAN.
“Our main goal was to be free of paper,” said Kelling. “We finally got that with 1040SCAN.”
Firm leaders implemented 1040SCAN ORGANIZE (which includes SPbinder) first. Once setup was complete, workflow improved immensely for Kelling and his staff. The system helped rid the firm of cumbersome paper files and quickly improved the overall tax process.
“Right away, we adopted centralized, upfront scanning,” explained Kelling. “All source documents are scanned by an administrative staff member at the time they come in from the client. This person then provides the preparer with the organized PDF, which comes out of 1040SCAN.”
By scanning upfront, preparers start the tax process in a digital environment. And by adopting a central scanning model, preparers are not bogged down with this initial work and can concentrate on processing returns and helping clients. The workflow is further enhanced because documents are organized within SPbinder, where preparers can easily locate individual workpapers and add notes as needed.
“We love the binder!” stated Kilbo. “Within SPbinder resides all organized source data, and we can add review notes and annotate as needed right in the binder. 1040SCAN gives us everything we need within one system.”
“We also have scanners at each preparer’s workstation for source docs that come in later. This way staff can quickly scan and add new documents. This process has worked very well for us,” added Kelling.
The efficiencies gained from implementing 1040SCAN ORGANIZE were so great that by the next year the firm was ready to move the tax process a huge step forward. They began by testing SurePrep’s 1040SCAN PRO, which allowed them to take electronic source documents and auto populate tax returns within UltraTax CS—the firm’s tax preparation solution.
1040SCAN automates more than 7x the documents of UltraTax SDP See how 1040SCAN compares to UltraTax Source Document Processing
“This was the next logical step for us,” stated Kelling. “With the PRO version, all that nicely organized source data flowed into our tax software without the need for time-consuming manual entry.”
The adoption of 1040SCAN has helped the firm transform a once paper-heavy tax process into an end-to-end digital workflow…even through to final tax return delivery.
“We deliver returns within our client portals. Using 1040SCAN, we can create a final PDF of the client’s source documents, minus all of our review notes, and deliver it within the portal. This represents a true end-to-end electronic tax process.”
So efficient is the process, in fact, that Kelling conducted his own ROI research to put a number on savings.
“I went back to the year before we did any scanning and compared hours. We dropped about 20% on hours spent processing roughly the same amount of tax returns. That’s a huge savings and an incredible boost in efficiency!”
The firm has made other tax workflow process improvements as well, and partners and staff are excited about the 2014 1040SCAN enhancements—which all add up to even more productive workflow. These items include: the move to tri-monitor workstations, use of portrait mode for reviewing returns, and helpful annotation and thumbnail feature upgrades.
“We moved to three monitors per workstation, which makes processing and reviewing returns so much easier. Bigger monitors and using ‘portrait’ mode eliminates the need to constantly scroll up and down to see everything on the return. It saves time…and my tendons,” said Kelling.
Kilbo commented on 1040SCAN improvements. “It might seem like little things to others, but as a preparer I’m excited about the coming enhancements… like the ability to change fonts and colors in the review tools. We’ll be able to color code review notes and change fonts with ease.”
“I’m also happy about making the thumbnails larger (another 1040SCAN enhancement to come). Making the thumbnails bigger will help me find items much faster," said Kelling.
"SPbinder offers thumbnails of all document types, including PDFs, Word, and Excel. This makes it so easy to visually locate a source document, like a consolidated mortgage brokers statement.”
Overall, the firm of Kelling, Bocovich & Co., LTD has made great strides in transforming their 1040 tax workflow. The move from paper to digital has helped the firm significantly improve efficiencies across staff and eliminated the need for paper storage and the manual tasks that come with it.
Jayme Lee Kilbo summed up the firm’s enthusiasm for 1040SCAN the best: “I can’t imagine ever going back to the old way of working!”