[IMGCAP(1)]Who doesn’t hate to scan? I know I do. But it’s a necessary evil, especially when the goal is to be completely paperless. Just think. What would we do during tax season without scanning? Likely, we would drown under volumes of paper and certainly lose hours and hours to a manual tax process.

While I agree that process improvement is a core value of a sound scanning process (i.e., scanning on the front end), enhancing firm culture always trumps process. Let’s face it, scanning isn’t exactly a favorite task around the office, and doesn’t tend to put staff in their “happy place.” Even with advanced technology and a streamlined process, scanning is BOR-ing and time consuming. So, with staff in mind, we tried something new this year.

I discovered a SAS70-certifed “scan factory” service and outsourced all our tax-based scanning. The entity scanned all source documents at the start of the tax workflow and uploaded them to our GruntWorx portal. We easily retrieved all files and began the tax preparation process.

This new outsourced service offered super fast scanners and the ability to bulk scan. What a fabulous idea! I wish I had found them sooner. I will share that right out of the gate the process was not perfect. But what new process ever is? We are still working out the kinks in preparation for ongoing use of the service. However, at the end of the workday, we are no longer burdened with one of the most boring, labor-intensive tasks ever.

Workflow and process are an important part of a tax firm. No denying it. But firm leaders should never forget about culture…it’s the glue that holds the office together. It’s always a good time to think about how you can improve operations to keep your staff happy and content. What will you change?

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.