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

Paperless is somewhat of a misnomer because as long as the mail is delivered every day, no firm will ever be "paperless." What we really mean is a firm that has created a digital work environment. Technologically progressive firms are probably more than 75 percent of the way there. The technology is available; the primary obstacle is culture change. With the next generation of leaders, those firms will be closer to 97-98 percent there (someone will always print).

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

Some of the more pressing reasons firms should transition to paperless processes now include cost and time-savings from greater efficiency; a push towards oversight, accountability and transparency; greater control and adaptability to changing conditions and market forces; ease of doing business, as more clients expect us to collaborate digitally; more flexibility in when, where and how we work making the practice more portable and empowering the individual to have greater control; and then there are the environmental reasons.

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

Strong leadership and a solid plan. Firms are at various stages of adopting paperless technologies. Regardless of the size of firm or technology budget, firms that have successfully transitioned to paperless processes have two things in common - strong leadership championing the transition and a solid step-by-step implementation plan. Start small and build. Even a firm with few technology investments, save tax and accounting software, can get started with a scanner, Windows Explorer file-tree, and XCM.

The XCM™ workflow management software is a key piece of the technology equation for firms transitioning to paperless processes. Many firms that have adopted document management systems and other paperless technologies still pass around paper routing sheets or using e-mail to move responsibility - both of which are inefficient, ineffective, and inhibit the advantages of digital work processes. XCM eliminates those barriers, and empowers a completely paperless workflow. As a SaaS solution, XCM is accessible from anywhere at any time, enabling a virtual work environment giving the individual more control, and the firm more flexibility in its staffing decisions.

(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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