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The following was originally published in AIT's Portrait. 

Accountancy firms realise the importance of technology in helping them function efficiently. Research iManage undertook at last year’s Alternative Accountancy Strategic IT Conference showed 84% of firms undergoing digital transformation projects this year and last year. 

Digital transformation may mean restructuring how information, such as documents and emails, are created and stored, to bring them together into a Document Management System (DMS). The work involved should not be seen as a barrier, but as an enabler. 

Here we consider some of the fundamental advantages a modern DMS like iManage can bring to an accountancy firm of any size. 

Bringing email into the DMS

We know that a great deal of the advisory work accountancy firms do is delivered via email. In our experience, email can be 70-80% of the data volume of a firm. With advice being given in the body of back-and-forth email exchanges, it is vital that any DMS captures email comprehensively, integrating it into the firm’s knowledge base. 

Firms which store email separately from other document types can miss out on integrating a significantly large amount of their knowledge base as well as leaving gaps in audit trailing that can only be filled by time-inefficient separate trawling of emails saved outside of the DMS.  It is so much easier—and so much better for employees and clients—when email is integrated into the DMS.

Enabling anywhere, any time, any device access to knowledge

As key parts of the accountancy role involve working away from the office, such as during audits, it is vital that a DMS is accessible anywhere, at any time, and on any device. With iManage it isn’t just documents that can be accessed on laptops, tablets and phones. It is everything that’s in the DMS – emails included. This means comprehensive services can be provided to clients in their own offices during the audit process or other on-site work, eliminating the need to wait for in-office checks, boosting efficiency, and maximising the gain from time spent with clients. 

With the DMS working in this way, it is much more than just a file store. It is a single source of truth that eliminates personal group storage (data siloes) and the potential for different document versions being squirrelled away in different places. Our research found that 83% of respondents said their data was held across multiple systems. This can make it difficult to find what you need quickly and efficiently or to be sure that you’ve actually found everything that’s relevant. 

On top of all that, the DMS needs to ensure organisational compliance and great data security. Industry-standard encryption, access controls, and audit trails are a “must have” feature of any DMS,  helping accountants protect sensitive financial data and maintain compliance with industry regulations, no matter what device is being used to access information.

A good DMS helps with recruitment and retention

The efficiencies iManage brings scale to firms of different sizes. While all of the Big 4 accountancy firms use us, we also have hundreds of customers in midsize firms too. There is a great advantage to smaller firms in using the same DMS tools as the market leaders. Speed, efficiency, and anytime, anywhere any device access all matter just as much to smaller firms. 

And what about recruitment and retention? Accountancy is not alone in finding it difficult to recruit and retain the best talent, and the lure of the Big 4 and other larger firms can cause a talent shortage in midsize or smaller firms. At least some of the pull to larger firms is about the advanced technology they use. But if, as a midsize or smaller firm, you too have that technology, then the recruitment playing field is levelled. 

iManage is a DMS with your goals at its core

With so much to get right, and such an important role to play, selecting a DMS is a serious business. You’re going to want to partner with a provider who knows its stuff, and is trusted by its customers. 

We don’t get wowed by the latest technology trend for its own sake. With more than 20 years industry experience, we know the value new tech developments can bring, but we want to implement them wisely. 

Let’s look at AI for example. We are leveraging generative AI in our platform in areas like search and helping knowledge workers brainstorm, and we are experimenting with generative AI use cases to ascertain how to best make it work for knowledge workers. But we won’t implement a new technology because we can. We will implement it because by doing so we can improve your knowledge work. 

When customers tell us what they want to achieve, they talk about things like being a data-smart organisation, cultivating collaboration, working with a flexible and scalable document repository, and streamlining workflows. As the company dedicated to Making Knowledge Work, we’re here to help you achieve those goals and more.

Learn more about what iManage can do for accountancy firms today. 

About the author

Sam Oakman

Making Knowledge Work

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