[IMGCAP(1)]I finally figured it out—why the paperless tax workflow is so difficult for today’s firms to implement. I see firm partners at trade shows and conferences, learning about all the required elements: scanning, tax document automation technology, and best practices. They get excited, feel a sense of renewed innovation, and psyche themselves up to make the necessary changes. Then I see these same professionals the next year and they are no closer to implementing a paperless tax process than they were before. Why? Because they failed to get Betty on board.

Everyone has a Betty. She (or he) is the chief administrator or office manager. You know, the person who runs the place, who calls the shots. Even when a partner believes they are the one in control, most often it really is Betty. And without having Betty on board to spearhead a major new implementation, like the paperless tax workflow, it typically won’t happen.

Take a moment to consider the skills that Betty possesses. Most Bettys are awesome at what they do—organized, task-oriented—someone who “gets ‘er done.” They are very good at their job and always exceptionally busy, but most are not overly tech-savvy. Now, combine “exceptionally busy” with a lack of technological proficiency and what do you think you get? You get someone who will tend to resist change to daily operations—especially when it involves learning a new application.

It’s time to get your Betty on board so your firm can move forward with paperless processes, and here is one way to do it. Hire a student intern, someone who wants to learn and grow in the profession and is also technologically proficient. Align this person with your Betty to act as a consultant of sorts; answering questions and supporting Betty with the new implementation. This gives Betty the assurance she needs, while also helping a student learn about firm operations. An intern is certainly cheaper than hiring an IT vendor, and will be more available on a daily basis to help Betty move the implementation along.

Get Betty on board and move your firm forward. It’s time to move out of the Square One and get on with your paperless tax implementation.

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.