“We had just gotten up to speed on DMS and had all staff working the same way. It was upsetting when we heard that Intuit was discontinuing it,” Coffey explained.
Like many accounting professionals, change is not always a welcomed force—especially when you’ve worked diligently (over a long period of time) to develop a sound and standardized tax workflow. This is how Nathan Coffey felt when he realized his firm would have to learn a whole new online document storage and secure file sharing system.
Getting a Head Start on Implementation
After careful thought, Coffey acknowledged that embracing change was the best way to move forward, and now the firm is well on its way to rolling out SmartVault. “You just have to take a leap of faith sometimes in order to advance workflow.”
And the firm’s move forward is already underway. Immediately after starting their free trial, the firm has successfully migrated their data from DMS to SmartVault, and with the help of SmartVault’s migration team, the firm is getting comfortable with implementing SmartVault across their client base.
“Working with SmartVault’s migration and customer care teams was a great experience,” said Coffey. “I now have a much better understanding of the system and the integration with Lacerte*. They also offered best practices for using the solution. It was all very helpful.” (*Note: SmartVault also integrates with ProSeries)
In early preparation for next tax season, Coffey has also started to invite clients to take a look at SmartVault and get comfortable with portals.
“One of the reasons I took a leap of faith with SmartVault is because I know our clients are ready for this level of service. They want 24/7 access to their information; they want a highly secure way to exchange documents. Email just isn’t the right solution anymore.”
The move to SmartVault also allowed the firm to transform their static website into a “place to do business,” as Coffey described it. Giving clients the ability to access their client portal from the firm’s website will bring clients back more regularly The portal also allows clients to self-serve, relieving firm staff of answering requests that come in via phone or email.
“The upgrade to our website makes us look very tech-savvy and allows us to offer clients a whole new level of service.”
Using Technology to Customize Your Workflow
Implementing an end-to-end automated tax workflow takes focus, dedication, and as Coffey soon realized, a bit of customization.
“We wanted to automate the tax preparation and tax delivery process all the way through to invoice payment. That meant we needed a way to invoice and collect payment from clients at the time the return is delivered. We got on the phone with SmartVault and explained the workflow we were after. With their customizable email templates, they were able to help us integrate a “PayNow” button [powered by Intuit PaymentNetwork] right in the email, allowing the client to pay at the time the return is delivered,” Coffey explained. “I can’t imagine other solutions offer this level of customization.”
With the ability to automate and customize their tax workflow, the firm is well positioned for a highly efficient tax season.
“We are set up to work with clients almost completely online. The plan is to deliver tax returns in the client portal and then have clients upload signed forms [like the 8879] back to their portal. While there, they can simply hit the PayNow button and pay their invoice. Overall, I am confident that our process will be far less paper-dependent as we move forward.”
Preparing for Success
The big test, according to Nathan Coffey, will be the coming tax season. “While I’m optimistic that SmartVault will help increase efficiency, the real test will be once we are into busy season.”
This is where taking a leap of faith will most certainly pay off for Tax Matter’s Inc. SmartVault’s seamless integration with Lacerte, online delivery of returns via SmartVault client portals, and the ability to pay invoices online will quickly add up to elevated levels of productivity…not to mention cost savings.
“This is a big step for the firm,” said Coffey. “I am excited that we are moving forward by implementing technology to help us increase efficiencies in several of our processes. I know it’s the right move. I’m glad I took that leap of faith.”