[IMGCAP(1)]The fastest swimmers have mastered what is known as the “streamline.” Streamline is the art of reducing “drag” (anything that slows the swimmer down). Mastering streamline translates into maximizing speed while minimizing energy invested. The best athletes are pros at altering head position, stroke, and overall form to reduce drag and accelerate smoothly forward. I liken this swim concept of reducing drag to tax season. Wouldn’t it be nice to continually move forward during tax season with minimal effort and maximum efficiency? Well, you can—if you mind your form.

Because of my recent Swim Thru It! blog post, you are probably aware that I am a competitive swimmer. Today, I spend a great deal of time improving streamline, but I didn’t always. Growing up, my coaches didn’t realize the value. Most of my time in the water was spent conditioning—just swimming and swimming with no attention to form or style. Today, I’ve dropped the old style and adopted the far more efficient streamline approach.

There is a similar transition happening in the profession. For years, many firms operated under the “old style”—just swimming and swimming, keeping their heads above water during tax season. Tax pros have since realized the necessity of streamlining their tax process to keep work flowing through the office and realization rates high. Firms that follow the streamline approach are scanning source docs up front and using powerful scan/organize/populate technology to create a completely digital and paperless tax process. So, you see, it can be done!

The transition from the old-style to the streamline approach can be a bit disruptive and uncomfortable at first. I’m just being honest. But without a little hard work, real workflow improvement won’t occur. Efficient processes are critical to a firm’s success—so take on the challenge. And trust that all the work you put in up front will be worth it in the long term. So, now it’s time to reduce your tax season drag and go streamline.

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.