AAA 2015 Paperless Benchmark Survey Results… Bleeding or Stable Digital Edge?

The Association for Accounting Administration recently completed the 2015 Paperless Benchmarking survey to find out the status of paperless office practices in accounting firms this upcoming busy season. The survey has been conducted every two years beginning in 2003 to help identify trends in adopting “less paper” processes.  Seven NEW questions were added this year to replace those that questions that had exceeded 80% in firm adoption, and three questions (designated with an * for 2013) were updated for 2015 terminology/considerations).  For the 2015 survey, 102 firms participated; see how your firm stacks up against the questions below and you may find some leading practices your firm could be implementing this busy season.  To find out more about the specific results of this survey, Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP presented a webcast on January 12, 2015 which is available on AAA’s website (CPAAdmin.org) to member firms.

2015 AAA Paperless Benchmark Survey 2013 2015
  1. NEW: Tax: Does your firm utilize a digital workflow tool to manage tax return progress?

-25% XCM Solutions

-15% Thomson Reuters FirmFlow

–  5% CCH Workstream

–  3% Office Tools Professional

–  3% Utilized their firm’s Practice Management

–  6% “Other” included Outlook, Doc-It, Conarc, and custom applications

NEW 59%
  1. Tax: Is your firm delivering the MAJORITY of your Organizers via digital means?

–  9%: Thomson Reuters Portal CS/GFR Portal

–  4%: “Other”

–  2%  CCH Portal

14% 15%
  1. Tax – Does your firm PRIMARILY scan client source documents (W2, 1099, etc.) at the front end of the process when the return is received and/or prior to review (mid-level scanning) so they are utilized onscreen?
78% 75%
  1. Tax – Is your firm utilizing internal software or external services to organize/bookmark scanned client source documents into a standard PDF Format?

-41% CCH FxScan

-13% SurePrep

–  8% GFR/TR Source Document Scanning

–  9% “Other” (Doc-IT, , Adobe)

57% 70%
  1. Tax – Is your firm using software that utilizes Optical Character Recognition to automatically transfer data from scanned source documents into your tax program?

-27% CCH AutoFlow

-10% SurePrep

–  6% Thomson Reuters Source Document Scanning

–  4% Other

*2013 Question asked only for “Internal” software for OCR

33%  47%

 

  1. Tax – Does your firm primarily deliver tax returns in a digital format?

-11% CCH Portal

–  9% Thomson Reuters

–   6% ShareFile

–   6% Physical CDs/Flashdrives

–   7% “Other” Portals/DM Systems

35% 39%
  1. Tax: What is the primary monitor configuration for tax professionals on their desktop?

-55% Triple Monitors

-24% Dual-Oversize (at least one screen 20” or greater)

-20% Dual-Standard (both screens 19” or less)

–  1% Quadruple

63% use more than traditional dual 80% use more than traditional dual
  1. NEW: TAX – Do the majority of your tax personnel utilize at least one monitor in a vertical, “portrait” mode?
NEW 45%
Questions? Contact Roman Kepczyk: roman@xcentric.com, 678.495.0508  
2015 AAA Paperless Benchmark Survey (Cont.)…………………………………………………..

 

  1. NEW: Tax – Do you plan to use a digital eSignature tool for tax returns this busy season? (Note: wide variety of products listed with Right Signature listed most often-5 firms)
2013

 

NEW

 

 

2015

 

31%

 

 

  1. Audit – Does your firm primarily link its audit applications to its tax application to digitally transfer trial balance information?
68% 68%
  1. Audit – Do your personnel working outside the office access firm applications and information via a remote connection (SaaS, Virtual Private Network, Citrix/WTS) more than 50% of the time?
70% 77%

 

  1. Audit – Do your auditors carry multiple monitors in the field?
63% 74%
  1. Audit-Do auditors carry any of the following into the field the majority of the time?

– 57% Scanners (32% in 2013)

– 22% Printers (15% in 2013)

–   9% Multi-Function Devices (10% in 2013)

*Some firms responded to two or three devices

63% 67%
  1. Audit: Does your Firm utilize a single vendor for audit programs/engagement binders?

– 21% CCH Engagement with CCH Knowledge Coach
– 13% TR Engagement CS/Advance Flow with PPC Smart Practice

NEW 34%
  1. Audit: Do your auditors utilize data extraction tools on the majority of their engagements? (Check All that Apply):

-45% Excel

-21% IDEA

– 7% Information Active/ActiveData

58% 74%
  1. Audit: Do your auditors utilize a digital audit scheduling tool?

– 19% utilizes ProStaff or Staff Track “dedicated” scheduling tool which was down from 29% in 2013

 

Please note that 31% utilized Excel in 2015, down from 39% in 2013, and 14% utilized Practice Management, which was not tracked in 2013.

 *29%

 

19%
  1. Accounting: Does your firm utilize web-based accounting products for client service?
71% 52%
  1. Administration – Does your firm utilize an intranet to store firm wide information (i.e. personnel manual and internal firm procedures)?

-28% utilized Microsoft SharePoint

-21% utilized Document Management

-23% “Other: Yammer, Engagement, HR, Custom

64% 72%
  1. Administration – Does your firm deliver firm internal financial and management reports electronically?
75% 84%
  1. Administration – Does your firm have an electronic document destruction procedure to ensure deletion of outdated electronic files on the network?
53% 71%
  1. Administration – Does your firm use a firm-wide document management program for archival of all final tax returns, financial reports, and firm correspondence?

-31% CCH Document (22% on Premise, 9% Axcess)

-12% Thomson GoFileRoom

-11% Thomson File Cabinet CS

–  6% Conarc iChannel

–  6% Engagement Binders (CCH/Caseware)

–  3% Doc-It and 3% eFileCabinet

66% 78%
  1. Administration – Does your firm pay the majority of accounts payables via electronic means such as credit card, online bank draft, or online service (Bank ACH, Bill.com, etc.)?
50% 52%
  1. Administration – Does you firm utilize a remote check scanner in your office to deposit client checks?
63% 76%
  1. Administration – Does your firm deliver digital payroll stubs via secure email or portal?
58% 70%
  1. Administration: Are expense reports submitted electronically?
33% 47%
  1. Practice Management – Do owners/managers receive internal management reports electronically (via email or by looking them up on the computer)?
66% 84%
Questions? Contact Roman Kepczyk: roman@xcentric.com, 678.495.0508  
2015 AAA Paperless Benchmark Survey (Cont.)…………………………………………………..

 

  1. Practice Management – Do firm personnel utilize information dashboards within your Practice Management application to update internal reporting information?
2013

 

48%

 

2015

 

33%

 

  1. Practice Management – Are the majority of invoices prepared onscreen rather than completed on manual billing sheets?
68% 67%
  1. Practice Management – Does your firm deliver client invoices electronically?
44% 35%
  1. NEW: Practice management –Does your firm accept digital payment for services (check all that apply)?
    -81% Credit Card (firm entered)

-51% ACH (firm entered)

-15%Credit Card via Website  (client entered)

NEW 88%
  1. NEW: Practice management –Does your firm have a centralized contact management list accessible by all personnel (Check all that apply)?
    -67% Practice management contacts (stored in time and billing)

-32% Outlook

-18% Other

*2013 Question: Does your firm maintain a contact/prospect list in its practice                           .       management or groupware application?

 *82% NEW 91%
  1. Communications – Does your firm provide internet enabled devices (other than smart phones) for senior management working outside the office (i.e. tablets, netbooks, etc.)?
33% 54%
  1. Communications – Has your firm implemented Unified Messaging Technology for all staff (voice message/integrated fax delivered electronically via email)?
66% 62%
34: NEW: Communications: Does your firm utilize a collaboration tool which includes instant messaging?

-17% Lync

-13% Skype

-18% Other (Phone, Yammer, ShoreTel, Google, Cisco, Jabber)

*2013 Question: Does your firm utilize instant messaging?

*27% 47%
  1. Communications: Does your firm utilize video calling/conferencing?
37% 54%
  1. Technology – Does your firm backup all firm data to the Internet (web-based storage/archival) on at least a monthly basis?

-56% Daily/Work Days

-7% Weekly

-3% Monthly

57% 67%
  1. Technology – Does your firm utilize a SharePoint server or Lotus Notes knowledge database?
31% 42%
  1. Technology – Has your firm transitioned to a virtualized server environment?

-51% VMware

-13% Microsoft HyperV or “Did Not Know”

56% 64%
  1. Has your firm implemented a Mobile Device Management application to secure your mobile devices and access to the firm’s network?

-7% AirWatch

-7% Exchange/Active Sync

-5% Maas360

-16% Other (Good, Meraki, Mobile Iron, Citrix or “Did Not Know”

NOTE: 3% Provided Firm Issued Smart Phones (2nd Phone)

NEW 35%
  1. Does your firm utilize remote access tools to connect to client computers to provide support, training or remote work?

-16% LogMeIn

–  9% Go to Meeting/GoToAssist

-22% Other (Join.me, TeamViewer, RAS, Lync, etc.)

NEW 47%

 

About the Author


Roman
Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, CGMA, LSS BB is Director of Consulting for Xcentric and works exclusively with accounting firms as an independent, outsourced IT Partner/CIO optimizing the firm’s tax, audit, client services and administrative workflows, utilizing the Firm Process Optimization (FPO) Review process.  Roman has partnered successfully on with over 300 firms and incorporates the best of his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training. Roman also partners with firms prior to and during mergers to optimize the combined IT infrastructure, applications and processes with Merger Process Optimization (MPO). He can be reached directly at: roman@xcentric.com or 678-495-0508.

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