What has been your experience with trying to go paperless in your business?

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We have only started the planning process for a paperless or near paperless office and find that the culture of the firm is the biggest problem. Many of our team members just cannot pull themselves away from the paper copies; this creates obstacles that slow the planning process. We have yet to consider what system and hardware may be needed or the cost of the project, until we can solve the various individual concerns. Bob Wendel
E.S. Evans
Lima, Ohio

We have found that if we keep our emphasis on streamlining business processes and support them with the latest technology, our practice uses less paper. We have also found that reversing this emphasis creates less efficiency and damages corporate culture. With that said, one major exception was our investment in dual monitors which yielded immediate efficiencies and, oh yes...decreased paper use.

Peter J. Henley, CPA, CITP, MCP
Clark Nuber
Bellevue, Wash.

Partner Insights

The more "paperless" inventions that come along, fax machine, e-mail, etc., the more paper I seem to have in the office. I blame this on the "cover-your-rear-syndrome" which causes one to print out and save certain e-mail correspondence and make office copies of sensitive faxes just in case we need them later.

Mike Healy
Apptech
Cheshire, Conn.

We will be mostly paperless by the end of this year. The best thing that we did was to discuss with other accounting firms about their issues. I would recommend that everyone consider having two 19-in. monitors per workstation. This alone increases productivity significantly.

Jim Humphres
Humphres & Co.
Nashville, Tenn.

We are nearly 100 percent paperless. We achieve this by using attachments in our Microsoft CRM system. As far as accounting goes, we have the usual bank statements, etc., but since we do all invoices over email and our software is 100 percent downloadable, we really have very little paper in our world.

John Gravely
C360 Solutions
Atlanta

We have been paperless since 1998. Of course, we are consuming more paper than ever, it is just not permanently stored. In addition to creating PDFs from various programs, we scan all relevant paper supporting documents into PDF files. We keep it all online, and backed up, all the time. Shortly after embarking on an experimental basis, we discovered that it was more expeditious to keep the paper copies of everything until after the completion of the subsequent year's work. So temporarily, we end up with two years of paper documents filed, the just completed year, and the year that gets scheduled for shredding.

Gene Prescott
Eugene Prescott, CPA, PA
Greenville, N.C.

We have been paperless in our audit practice for about two years now. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits is access to files and documents from anywhere, at anytime, as long as we can get to an Internet browser. Our younger staff are anxious and pick technology issues up quickly. The older partners have been somewhat resistant to change, but this was not unexpected. We are currently discussing the possibility of converting our tax practice to less paper. The feedback I am receiving is that dual monitors may make the conversion more palatable.

K. Tim Larsen, CPA-CITP
Squire & Co.
Orem, Utah

There still seems to be some resistance to not only going completely paperless, but even just having less paper. While I personally have gone about 90 percent paperless for my clients, even to the point of giving them their tax return and source documents on CD (along with a paper copy), my colleagues seem to like to actually put their hands on documents rather than pulling them up electronically even though they know going paperless saves paper, saves money, saves time, and is easier to manage. I believe it will probably take the next generation of firm owners to really grab hold of the paperless revolution.

Kendall K. Wheeler, CPA CITP
Moore Grider & Company
Fresno, Calif.

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