John Coleman, CPA, owner of Commonwealth Business Services in Fredericksburg Virginia, didn’t know he was going to have a life-changing experience when he attended a webinar featuring SmartVault’s integration with Lacerte tax software. However, this is exactly what happened at the end of 2021. The experience changed his children’s lives, too.
John, whose firm has 14 staff and more than 600 tax clients had been using an older, less robust document management software for many years. He knew that his current approach of manually uploading documents was inefficient and needed to look for a new solution. However, he also knew that with the current tax season quickly approaching he wouldn’t have time to research and implement new software.
He decided to attend the webinar in which a fellow accounting and tax professional was highlighting how she uses SmartVault not only for secure and seamless document management but to build an entire integrated tax workflow as well, with Karbon and Lacerte.
“This really caught my attention, because I had never heard of SmartVault before and I had never seen anyone show their exact workflows that were just like mine in a webinar,” said John. “Plus, the presenter was a softball lover, and my kids are really into baseball so that was an added bonus.”
In this webinar, John had heard Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, and long-time SmartVault user, discussing how she uses SmartVault as the backbone of her firm’s workflow. Seeing how another practitioner with a strong tax practice was using SmartVault to maximize efficiency and increase their capacity to serve more clients was what John needed to see in order to make the switch to SmartVault in his practice.
“Being able to drag and drop an email, and as well as an Excel file or whatever you want into SmartVault is amazing. Email attachments are possible, too, which my staff love, because they used to have to go into email and then double click on each attachment, now it’s just zip, zip, zip, one, two, three and then rename them as to what they are, you’re done.”
Per John, “Before the pandemic in 2019, we had a much more senior group of professionals. Three of our nine full time staff had been here less than a year and this crew of rookies beat the numbers of any group handily.”
John reported that during the 2021 tax season his firm prepared more returns than they had ever done. Commonwealth Tax has seen significant growth over the past two years going from preparing approximately 400 tax returns in 2019 to over 670 in 2022. A key SmartVault feature that has supported this ability to scale is the efficiency gained through SmartVault’s drag and drop feature which allows files to be quickly and easily organized directly from email or another digital source. John also found the ability to modify subfolders key as well.
“Another aspect that I really love is the integration with Lacerte, which is our tax program, because we are able to directly print the PDFs to SmartVault, and then print the PDF so the tax return pages that we want are in one PDF. We can also print the e-file forms to another PDF. It’s so quick and much more efficient than what we used to do, and our admin loves it because she didn’t have to go through and pull those pages out and send them however they needed to send them to the client.”
“The implementation of SmartVault was actually pretty simple,” said John. “Even right before tax season there were no issues. In fact, I haven’t had a single complaint from my team. All of my administrative staff use SmartVault, and they love it. It really has allowed us to keep adding tax clients without having negative impacts on our ability to serve them efficiently.”
“It took a little bit [of time] to get it set up but not nearly the amount of time I expected to have to spend to get this to work and we didn’t need extra IT support to do it, either.” Commonwealth Business Services also took advantage of SmartVault’s training, so they were up and running quickly. This meant that John had more time to devote to things outside of his practice.
Like Dawn Brolin, John is passionate about the game of baseball due to his children’s’ involvement in it. “When she said, ‘I’m always at every game because I use SmartVault,’ that sealed the deal for me. It really resonated with me because I was afraid I was going to miss my children’s games due to my work. That never happened during this tax season. I was front and center not only for each game; but also every practice.”
John believes that SmartVault is, “Just a great program overall. We are extremely happy with it, and it has made us much more efficient. Plus, I want to tell Dawn Brolin that I very much appreciate her showing me how to do all of this with SmartVault and so do my kids who had dad at every game and practice this past year.”
Accounting & Tax
SmartVault, Lacerte, Karbon