1. How far are we from the truly paperless office?

We're already there. Integrated solutions for every practice area exist, along with scanning and document management systems that eliminate the need to rely on paper files. It's possible today for firms to implement paperless workflows in which professionals do not have to handle physical files or check physical documents in and out. While these firms may not yet be 100-percent paper-free, their critical processes no longer are dependent on sharing and working with paper documents.

2. Why should accounting firms make the transition to paperless processes?

Because of the amazing efficiencies that result from streamlined, integrated workflows; because of the greater productivity brought about when professionals have anytime/anywhere access to what they need and anywhere/anytime ability to collaborate with their peers; because young professionals expect and embrace paperless processes; because all professionals will spend more time on high-level, high-value work; because money will be saved in the long run simply by buying and storing much less paper.

3. What do they need to do to get there?

The first thing they need is an internal "champion," preferably a partner. Second is a starting point - for example, tax. Implement a paperless workflow in one practice area, then go on to more. Third is a knowledge of best practices, so the firm does not waste time and resources on less-than-optimal solutions. Fourth is a supplier of software solutions who will truly act as a partner, providing training and support throughout the whole process.

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business, is a leading provider of tax, audit and accounting information, software and services. Products in our ProSystem fx® Suite include ProSystem fx Tax, award-winning tax compliance and preparation software; ProSystem fx Engagement paperless engagement software; ProSystem fx Document, managing the full range of documents found in a practice; ProSystem fx Portal, an electronic storage space in which files can be effortlessly and securely uploaded, downloaded and stored; and ProSystem fx Knowledge Coach, offering dramatic increases in audit efficiency and compliance with the latest risk-based standards. We also offer CCH IntelliConnect™, the most powerful and easy-to-use research platform available.

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