1. Use information checklists to bridge gaps between teams.
An Audit team member will need information from a Taxation team member at a certain time. Instead of having the Audit team member go in search of the information he/she needs when the time comes, have the Taxation team member prepare the information in advance.
A clear checklist stating the information required by the Audit team member should be provided to the Taxation team member in advance, along with the time that the information will be required. When the Taxation team member is working on the job, he/she will be aware of the information required by the Audit team member and consciously prepare the information and make it readily available to the Audit team member.
This pro-active action is more efficient than having a team member go in search of information when it is needed. Time can easily be wasted on sending multiple emails when the information needed is not obtained.
This can be done for all sorts of teams that depend on one another.
2. Use Google Forms to collect information from clients instead of having them fill up word or excel forms and then attaching those in email.
See the sample form below which I’ve created using Google Forms.
Clients can self-upload their Management Accounts when they are filling up the form.
Such forms can be created for all sorts of manual forms that your firm is currently using. The URL of the form can also be provided on your firm’s website for potential clients to fill up when requesting for your service.
3. With the significant usage and dependency of the Microsoft Word Application, consider training relevant staff such as Auditors and Admins to have better product usage knowledge of MS Word.
Templates can be created with “document properties” that can be changed easily and quickly. For example, a document property called “client” can be used as a placeholder in a standard audit report format.
When an auditor fills up an audit report, the auditor can simply go to the document properties of the word file and change the value of “client” to “XYZ Company”. Auditor then updates the field with 2 mouse clicks to change all the “client” placeholders to “XYZ Company” in the entire document.
4. Use barcodes to record the receipt of physical files.
Some clients prefer to have their physical hardcopy documents sent to the Accounting or Audit firm. Consider using a barcode system to record the receipt of such physical files. A barcode system can accurately and efficiently track the check-in and check-out of physical files and keep a record of the metadata related to the physical files.
Instead of having such records written manually in books, data that is captured in the digital format in a proper barcode system can provide valuable insights in the long term. For example, by observing the trends, we will be able to identify which clients typically provided their documents on a timely manner and which clients are usually late. With this information, auditors or accountants may want to send early reminders to the respective clients. From the trends, we will also be able to know if the volume of files have increased for a particular client. This can help to justify an upward fee adjustment.
Other advantages include:
Eliminate human error - The occurrence of errors for manually entered data is significantly higher than that of barcodes. A barcode scan is fast and reliable, and takes less time than entering data by hand.
Increased visibility - We will know who has checked-in and checked-out the files and when, avoiding the need to waste valuable time and resources trying to locate the files.
Barcode systems are readily available with affordable options.
Barcodes promote better decision making. Because data is obtained rapidly and accurately, it is possible to make more informed decisions. Better decision making ultimately saves time and money.
5. Use MMYYYY to categorize folders in your common File Server so one can locate the digital files easily especially when the volume of digital files increases over time.
As the organization cuts down on paper usage and stores all softcopy documents in the file server or document repository, the number of digital files can quickly add up with time. Consider using MMYYYY to categorize folders to make searching more efficient.