CPA Firm going paperless - looking for advice.


T

Terry

Hello. My CPA firm is wanting to go paperless or at least use and store less
paper. We are currently looking at two software packages for scanning and
managing digitized documents. One is ProSystem fx Scan (CCH, a Wolters
Kluwer business) and File Cabinet CS (Creative Solutions). Both have their
pros and cons. We are also looking at strategies for getting rid of our
enormous backlog of paper in storage. I would very much like to hear from
other CPA firms that have recently made this transition and hearing their
stories, suggestions and recommendations. Thanks in advance. Terry
 
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S

Steve

Hello. My CPA firm is wanting to go paperless or at least use and store less
paper. We are currently looking at two software packages for scanning and
managing digitized documents. One is ProSystem fx Scan (CCH, a Wolters
Kluwer business) and File Cabinet CS (Creative Solutions). Both have their
pros and cons. We are also looking at strategies for getting rid of our
enormous backlog of paper in storage. I would very much like to hear from
other CPA firms that have recently made this transition and hearing their
stories, suggestions and recommendations. Thanks in advance. Terry
A flatbed scanner with the HP software meets my limited needs (you can
easily store pdf and jpg output in albums/directories indexed to customers)
You could ask in the yahoo groups "Tax professionals" and
"TaxProExchange". I know they have had discussions on paperless offices
which are tax oriented but could also apply to accounting practices.


















































..



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P

Paul Thomas, CPA

Terry said:
We are also looking at strategies for getting rid of our enormous backlog
of paper in storage.



After it gets scanned consider a commercial shredding service like Shred-X.

That, or I hear some ex-Enron employees still need a job......
 
B

Barnabas Collins

Hello. My CPA firm is wanting to go paperless or at least use and store less
paper. We are currently looking at two software packages for scanning and
managing digitized documents. One is ProSystem fx Scan (CCH, a Wolters
Kluwer business) and File Cabinet CS (Creative Solutions). Both have their
pros and cons. We are also looking at strategies for getting rid of our
enormous backlog of paper in storage. I would very much like to hear from
other CPA firms that have recently made this transition and hearing their
stories, suggestions and recommendations. Thanks in advance. Terry
The paperless office....a nice idea. Won't happen in my lifetime.

The first big problem with the idea, what do you do when you have to
access that invoice right now and the power is out or the computer is
down? Of if you're accessing a remote location what happens if the
internet connection is down?

Finally, on line records can be changed. I've yet to hear a solution
to prvent that.
 
B

Barnabas Collins

A flatbed scanner with the HP software meets my limited needs (you can
easily store pdf and jpg output in albums/directories indexed to customers)
You could ask in the yahoo groups "Tax professionals" and
"TaxProExchange". I know they have had discussions on paperless offices
which are tax oriented but could also apply to accounting practices.
But the big question to ask is what are you going to do if you're area
is hit a storm, and you're without power for the next 30 days?

Consider that when you go to system like this. Recently there were
some states that had been hit by storms, some of the customers
lost electricity for more thna thirty days.

And then there is Maine. A number of years ago they got a series
of ice storms in winter, some of those customers were without
electricity for months. The ice kept bringing down the power lines.
 
B

Barnabas Collins

After it gets scanned consider a commercial shredding service like Shred-X.

That, or I hear some ex-Enron employees still need a job......
Before you shred it, do you really want to do that? Take this
scenario: you've just been hit by an ice storm. Tomorrow you
get another. This goes on for thirty days. Everytime they
go and fix the power line, a new ice storm brings down the line.

This exact scenario went on in Maine a number of years ago.
Thirty days straight.
 
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R

Ron Todd

But the big question to ask is what are you going to do if you're area
is hit a storm, and you're without power for the next 30 days?

Consider that when you go to system like this. Recently there were
some states that had been hit by storms, some of the customers
lost electricity for more thna thirty days.

And then there is Maine. A number of years ago they got a series
of ice storms in winter, some of those customers were without
electricity for months. The ice kept bringing down the power lines.
I seriously doubt anyone who starts talking about "software" in the
first step of going paperless and then asks for "advice" on the USENET
is going to listen to your well considered comments. (I find most of
these people haven't bothered to install uninterruptible power
supplies, yet.) The single biggest problem I've noticed over the last
four decades is most offices don't have the management talent to
correctly handle paper, much less the additional problems associated
with paperless.
 
G

GO

Good point on management. MBA's should include a substantial amount of
IT systems in their courses... so they understand the technology and are
more aware of IT related issues.
 
J

JiXian Yang

Terry said:
Hello. My CPA firm is wanting to go paperless or at least use and store less
paper. We are currently looking at two software packages for scanning and
managing digitized documents. One is ProSystem fx Scan (CCH, a Wolters
Kluwer business) and File Cabinet CS (Creative Solutions). Both have their
pros and cons. We are also looking at strategies for getting rid of our
enormous backlog of paper in storage. I would very much like to hear from
other CPA firms that have recently made this transition and hearing their
stories, suggestions and recommendations. Thanks in advance. Terry
Paperless is a good idea, our environment will benefit from it. The two
software packages is wonderful, but we think there might be some
alternatives. If the cost is lower and the performance of the software
is high, someone may adopt the other full solution.
For instance, the digitized documents can be stored in EMail boxes. As
we know, so many free EMail boxes on Internet, and USB storages are
going to be cheaper. The issues are security, privacy, convenience, and
so on.
Go ahead, the other CPA firms will hearing your stories, suggestions
and recommendations from you. :)
 
J

JiXian Yang

Terry said:
Hello. My CPA firm is wanting to go paperless or at least use and store less
paper. We are currently looking at two software packages for scanning and
managing digitized documents. One is ProSystem fx Scan (CCH, a Wolters
Kluwer business) and File Cabinet CS (Creative Solutions). Both have their
pros and cons. We are also looking at strategies for getting rid of our
enormous backlog of paper in storage. I would very much like to hear from
other CPA firms that have recently made this transition and hearing their
stories, suggestions and recommendations. Thanks in advance. Terry


Paperless is a good idea, our environment will benefit from it. The two
software packages is wonderful, but we think there might be some
alternatives. If the cost is lower and the performance of the software
is high, someone may adopt the other full solution.
For instance, the digitized documents can be stored in EMail boxes. As
we know, so many free EMail boxes on Internet, and USB storages are
going to be cheaper. The issues are security, privacy, convenience, and
so on.
Go ahead, the other CPA firms would like to get the stories,
suggestions and recommendations from you. :)
 
J

JiXian Yang

Terry said:
Hello. My CPA firm is wanting to go paperless or at least use and store less
paper. We are currently looking at two software packages for scanning and
managing digitized documents. One is ProSystem fx Scan (CCH, a Wolters
Kluwer business) and File Cabinet CS (Creative Solutions). Both have their
pros and cons. We are also looking at strategies for getting rid of our
enormous backlog of paper in storage. I would very much like to hear from
other CPA firms that have recently made this transition and hearing their
stories, suggestions and recommendations. Thanks in advance. Terry


Paperless is a good idea, our environment will benefit from it. The two
software packages is wonderful, but we think there might be some
alternatives. If the cost is lower and the performance of the software
is high, someone may adopt the other full solution.
For instance, the digitized documents can be stored in EMail boxes. As
we know, so many free EMail boxes on Internet, and USB storages are
going to be cheaper. The issues are security, privacy, convenience, and
so on.
Go ahead, the other CPA firms would like to get the stories,
suggestions and recommendations from you. :)
 
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B

Barnabas Collins

I seriously doubt anyone who starts talking about "software" in the
first step of going paperless and then asks for "advice" on the USENET
is going to listen to your well considered comments. (I find most of
these people haven't bothered to install uninterruptible power
supplies, yet.) The single biggest problem I've noticed over the last
four decades is most offices don't have the management talent to
correctly handle paper, much less the additional problems associated
with paperless.
I would add an interruptible power supply will only hold you for an
hour (it's intended so you can shut down properly.)

Beyond that what are you going to do if you're hit by a hurricane like
Katrina and it takes years to rebuild the buildings, the electricity
infrastructure, the roads, etc.?

The other problem with a paperless office, that program you use today
to view the document? It may not work on tomorrows computers.
 
B

Barnabas Collins

Paperless is a good idea, our environment will benefit from it. The two
software packages is wonderful, but we think there might be some
alternatives. If the cost is lower and the performance of the software
is high, someone may adopt the other full solution.
But is that software you're using today going to run on a Pentium 23
that you're super duper computer will run in 10+ years?

Will it run on Linux when you get so fed up with viruses/spam/
spyware/etc. on your Windows system that you trash it and
go to Linux?
For instance, the digitized documents can be stored in EMail boxes. As
we know, so many free EMail boxes on Internet, and USB storages are
going to be cheaper. The issues are security, privacy, convenience, and
so on.
And will that free e-mail box on Gmail or Hotmail still be free
ten years from now?

If the next version of Windows is as vulnerable to hackers/
viruses/security flaws then Microsof and Hotmail may well be
gone.

In then there is the issue of where that free email account will
go. What is to prevent some company from buying out Google,
acquiring Gmail, and then chage you to access your old
stuff on the email account?

Ultitmately with security concerns, especially if you have
credit card numbers on file, maybe the best and safest solution
is to have that documentation in you're building, under
your supervision, and under your lock and key.

On line storage and paperless storage is an intriguing
idea that would help the environment, but it also leaves
you open to some hacker who can come in, steal the file
and then demand millions of dollars for giving you access
to your own file. Don't laugh about this scenario, it
has already happened to some unfortunate souls.

Also USB devices are convenient, but they are also very
easy to loose, remove from the building.
 
R

Ron Todd

I would add an interruptible power supply will only hold you for an
hour (it's intended so you can shut down properly.)
Yes. If you are really serious about going truly paperless you need
to consider generating your own power. Maybe one of those natural gas
motor generator systems and a co gen agreement with the power company.
Then you have to plan for off the telephone company's lines if they
fail. It just goes on and on......
Beyond that what are you going to do if you're hit by a hurricane like
Katrina and it takes years to rebuild the buildings, the electricity
infrastructure, the roads, etc.?
Good point. Note that the primary governmental groups with
reasonability for disaster preparedness in Louisiana, the city and
state governments, failed miserably. AND this is in a state and city
where hurricanes are a normal occurrence! If they won't plan, I don't
think Joe Accountant who wants to go "paperless" because Fred
Accountant told him it is going to save him lots of money, will.
The other problem with a paperless office, that program you use today
to view the document? It may not work on tomorrows computers.
That is one heck of a very good point.

Ever hear the story of the BBC and their "whole lot of the tax payer's
money" Dooms Day Book project? They did the thing on a optical drive
on an Acorn (?) computer. Dug it out because they wanted to do a BBC
special on it. Turned out the computer had gone obsolete and they
didn't have anything that would read the project data. They only
thing that saved their bacon was they found an Acorn with the somewhat
rare optical drive in a museum.
 
J

JiXian Yang

But is that software you're using today going to run on a Pentium 23
that you're super duper computer will run in 10+ years?
Ten years ago, *.dbf file (DBase III or Foxbase+ File) was popular, but
we can read the file today. :)
Something changed, something not.
I think someone can find AES(Advanced Encryption Standard) algorithm
after 10+ years.
Will it run on Linux when you get so fed up with viruses/spam/
spyware/etc. on your Windows system that you trash it and
go to Linux?
We suppose that there is no viruses/spam/spyware on Linux system. But
when a security expert believe that no

system is fully trustworthy, including but not limited to himself, we
will be interested in his solution.
Firewall is not enough, physical isolation will be better.
And will that free e-mail box on Gmail or Hotmail still be free
ten years from now?

If the next version of Windows is as vulnerable to hackers/
viruses/security flaws then Microsof and Hotmail may well be
gone.

In then there is the issue of where that free email account will
go. What is to prevent some company from buying out Google,
acquiring Gmail, and then chage you to access your old
stuff on the email account?
Absolutely, maybe Gmail or Hotmail or YAHOO!MAIL will charge us at the
same time. :)
But we will tell them, if they charge us, they will lose the income
from advertisement service.
That will be their loss, not ours. We have some copies in our CD-ROM,
DVD-ROM and USB storage.
Maybe we have our own EMail server. :)
Ultitmately with security concerns, especially if you have
credit card numbers on file, maybe the best and safest solution
is to have that documentation in you're building, under
your supervision, and under your lock and key.

On line storage and paperless storage is an intriguing
idea that would help the environment, but it also leaves
you open to some hacker who can come in, steal the file
and then demand millions of dollars for giving you access
to your own file. Don't laugh about this scenario, it
has already happened to some unfortunate souls.
If the file was encrypted, without the correct keys and the
initialization vectors,
hackers might have no idea about the content.
We will tell them, "Just take it, we have so many backups here...and
there..."
:)
 
R

RaS

This was an interesting topic. But isn't everyone discussing disaster recovery/planning issues?
Isn't conversion to paperless (or at least an attempt) one step closer to a more secure robust
office environment? Even a full paper office has it's draw backs. The office I used to work
for was almost completely paper, but if a fire broke out the only things that would have survived
would have been electronic media kept off site, and paper that was archived (3+ yrs old) at
another site. Current paper and permanent files would be lost. It seems to me the issue of
paperless is just a component of the bigger picture.

Just a thought.
 
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S

Steve

RaS said:
This was an interesting topic. But isn't everyone discussing disaster
recovery/planning issues? Isn't conversion to paperless (or at least an
attempt) one step closer to a more secure robust office environment? Even a
full paper office has it's draw backs. The office I used to work for was
almost completely paper, but if a fire broke out the only things that would
have survived would have been electronic media kept off site, and paper that
was archived (3+ yrs old) at another site. Current paper and permanent
files would be lost. It seems to me the issue of paperless is just a
component of the bigger picture.
Just a thought.
another thought -
After a few hurricanes I am now uploading and storing encrypted files on
yahoo. This includes pdf tax returns, personal photos in a zip file and
other stuff. I have altered the filenames and extensions and used
encryption security that is "pretty good". The NSA could eventually decode
my files but I'm not too worried about hackers.








--
 
B

Barnabas Collins

Yes. If you are really serious about going truly paperless you need
to consider generating your own power. Maybe one of those natural gas
motor generator systems and a co gen agreement with the power company.
Then you have to plan for off the telephone company's lines if they
fail. It just goes on and on......
Power does go out, sometimes it takes months or longer to get fixed.

Also phone lines go out too. I had a client who lost phones for a
while when the phone company was digging nearby and cut a phone
line. The phone company brought in cell phones for the month it
took them to fix it.

But the bottom is stuff happens, you need to be prepared for it
when it does.

I would add after a hurricane there is no phone/power service to
restore. The infrastructure is gone, so the entire system has to
be rebuilt from scratch. Polls down, lines down, buildings down,
etc.
Good point. Note that the primary governmental groups with
reasonability for disaster preparedness in Louisiana, the city and
state governments, failed miserably. AND this is in a state and city
where hurricanes are a normal occurrence! If they won't plan, I don't
think Joe Accountant who wants to go "paperless" because Fred
Accountant told him it is going to save him lots of money, will.
But Katrina is the first instance where and an entire city
essentially crashed and burned. I'm older than dirt, i've seen
lots of hurricanes over the years, never saw anything like Katrina

The bottom line is you can't really plan for a Katrina becuase nobody
really foresaw the levies built by the Army Corp of Engineers failing
and not being built correctly to start with.

People were warning about a hurricane hitting New Orleans for years.
It wasn't until Katrina that we really found out how badly the levees
were built.
 
B

Barnabas Collins

We suppose that there is no viruses/spam/spyware on Linux system. But
when a security expert believe that no

system is fully trustworthy, including but not limited to himself, we
will be interested in his solution.
Firewall is not enough, physical isolation will be better.
My understanding of Linux is the problem is not there for
Linux, that Bill Gates and Microsoft has the big target on
it's back.


Absolutely, maybe Gmail or Hotmail or YAHOO!MAIL will charge us at the
same time. :)
Who knows what we will have in ten years. Heck then years from now
you may have one phone number, your ISP, E-mail, cell phone, fax,
and other stuff will tie into it directly, each will bounce to the
other if you're not available, and you won't need Hotmail, Gmail,
or other service.

Heck ten years from now, you'll be stadning on the corner,
you're cell phone knows exactly where you are, your
email comes directly to you, your cell phone reads it to you.
You may not even need Gmail or Yahoo.
If the file was encrypted, without the correct keys and the
initialization vectors,
hackers might have no idea about the content.
We will tell them, "Just take it, we have so many backups here...and
there..."
:)
And then you'll get the people who made no backups
and are up the creek without a paddle without that
file.
 
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B

Barnabas Collins

recovery/planning issues? Isn't conversion to paperless (or at least an
attempt) one step closer to a more secure robust office environment?
It could be argued just the opposite. Servers get hacked, computers
crash, etc. It could be argued if you want a truly secure office,
hire security guards 24/7, lock up everything in file cabinets,
and be careful who you hire.

Ultimately your security is as good as your employees.
Even a
full paper office has it's draw backs. The office I used to work for was
almost completely paper, but if a fire broke out the only things that would
have survived would have been electronic media kept off site, and paper that
was archived (3+ yrs old) at another site. Current paper and permanent
files would be lost. It seems to me the issue of paperless is just a
component of the bigger picture.
But ultimately stuff can and does get stolen from an office.
The computer and new technology just makes it alot easier.

Years ago all you needed was one file from a file cabinet to
steal someones credit card #. Now you can go on the computer
and steal one file that may contain 600,000 credit card numbers.
 

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