The concept of “becoming green” is now widely accepted; if you haven’t given any consideration to how your tax and accounting firm may be of assistance, now is the time to do so. There are a vast number of ways in which we are able to contribute to the cause, and the uplifting news is that doing so will clear up some trouble spots and crowded areas in the workflow of your clinic.
The ways in which a company can impact the tried and true “reduce, reuse, and recycle” motto during the course of our engagement with a client begin with the very first step that we take with a client and continue all the way through the very last step that we take with a client until the very end of the engagement.
1: Getting to Know your Client
At the beginning of tax season, how do you communicate with your clients? Are you still printing and mailing out tax organizers? The new model is digital! Consider sending an email blast to your clients that include a tax organizer if you don’t want to give up the regular organizer and newsletter.
In addition to the PDF tax organizer, there is also a customizable letter that you may send to each client. Because it generates no sensitive information, the organizer is ideal for sending by email. This function can also bring up a list of the client’s documents from the previous year. To save time, as well as money on postage, paper, ink cartridges, gas for the post office, and wear and tear on your printer, you could use a service like electronic tax signing softwares.
Let’s go one step further. Use the live tax organizer, which includes a virtual questionnaire and a letter of engagement, if you want to go the extra mile. The documents you get will be encrypted and ready to be imported directly into your tax return. The virtual questionnaire can be tailored to meet your specific requirements. You can remove due diligence questions and obtain verifiable sources for personal information. Among other things, I utilize this questionnaire to collect the client’s bank account information for direct debit or direct deposit, and I also use it to ask due diligence questions about international financial assets and cryptocurrency. Data entry can be checked against a reference in the return, and the client’s input is documented in case issues arise. This is all done in a safe environment and is available for download in the form of an Excel file (.csv). The amount of time, money, and resources that may be saved, as well as the tightening of procedures, are astounding.
The idea is the same in the field of bookkeeping and accounting. For online accountants, you can request papers through the Work tab or your customer can upload them to My Accountant. You’ve saved our environment and made everything safer than if you’d used loose papers or a USB stick to store your data.
2: Interacting with your Client
You’ll be astonished at how many clients will accept your offer of virtual meetings in lieu of in-person meetings once you begin offering them. If your clients move away, you can still work with them remotely by holding online meetings. This is a no-brainer if you’re trying to become green.
It’s a question of habit and routine to reduce the amount of paper in your practice; going paperless will make it easier to maintain track of papers. Make sure you have a scanner that is simple to use. As an alternative, I recommend using a document signing software. You will never lose a document if you use proper naming conventions. As long as there aren’t a lot of papers, the client takes all of them with him or her.
To keep track of the scanned papers, you’ll need a system in place. If your practice is hosted in the cloud, you can be assured that your cloud file storage is far more secure than the location where you typically save client data.. The date and time stamps in your files provide you with an audit trail with no additional effort. For the sake of the environment, you can use a secure cloud file exchange to save the need for gas and driving.
3: Putting up the Effort
By switching to a digital notebook, you may eliminate even more paper from your workspace. It’s even possible to use digital sticky notes that don’t fall off or get erased.
Searching photographs for text and keeping logs to document the client’s work and history are made simple using a digital notepad like Microsoft OneNote. The data can be presented in a variety of ways other than simply plain text, such as screenshots or connected files, and the system allows you to customize how it is organized.
4: Collecting Data and Information
What should we do about collecting all of those additional items that we require from our customers, such as payment and handwritten signatures?
Electronic signatures are one of my favorite environmentally friendly options because they cut down the amount of time it takes to obtain a signature to a matter of seconds in cyberspace. DocuSign is a king of signing software that covers almost every industry. But no worries, you can try the cheapest competitors of DocuSign which provide the same features on less budget. Additionally, collecting money from customers is made simpler with automated processing and credit cards. In addition, if you are utilizing QuickBooks Payments, there is a significant amount of posting taken on in the background to maintain the most recent version of your account receivables.
5: The Well-Being of your Company
Your company’s future success depends on the decisions you make today. A file drawer full of thumb drives contains non-recyclable materials, not to mention the potential of a data breach, whereas a cloud platform with secured platforms is a healthy and secure option. By utilizing cloud flexibility and decreasing driving, you may provide your employees the option of where they want to work when working in a group.
Our practice is built on a foundation of health – not just our own, but yours and your team are as well. We can’t do our jobs well if we don’t take care of our own health first. When it comes to making a healthy choice, most of the time, green options are the best ones. This could be the year you get to lift fewer boxes of papers.