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Document Management at Accounting Firms: Exclusive Canopy Survey

Canopy commissioned an independent research firm to survey 150 US-based accountants related to document management practices in their firms. The margin of error for this study is +/- 6% at the 95% confidence level. All data coming from the survey is indented and green.

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Allison Terres

Allison Terres

Canopy commissioned an independent research firm to survey 150 US-based accountants related to document management practices in their firms. The margin of error for this study is +/- 6% at the 95% confidence level. All data coming from the survey is indented and green.

Bringing it All Together: Benefits of a Centralized System and the Pains Without One
Consolidating document management software into one system (i.e., internal docs and client docs) positively impacts staff experience and client experience. A better staff experience leads to higher levels of productivity, less turnover, and positive impact on client experience. A better client experience leads to higher levels of retention, revenue, and potentially referrals.

Accounting Firms

  • 76% of accountants use separate systems for client and coworker documents, but 81% want those to be on one platform
  • Accounting firms that centralize their documents on one platform are 14% more likely to say they deliver great client experiences
  • Accounting firms that centralize their documents on one platform are 15% more likely to say their staff is efficient
  • Accounting firms that centralize their documents on one platform are 38% less likely to say their staff is stressed
  • The top five frustrations accountants have with their existing document management system:
    1. Moving documents between different systems
    2. Downloading files, editing them, then having to re-upload
    3. Document sprawl/decentralization
    4. Lack of way to annotate or collaborate on files
    5. Sharing permissions

Clients

  • 69% of accountants say they spend too much time gathering documents from their clients
  • 58% of accountants say that they have accidentally shared the wrong file with a client due to poor communication and storage issues
  • What most speeds up document collaboration with clients:
    1. Client portal
    2. Automatic reminders for overdue documents
    3. Ability for clients to upload from mobile devices
    4. Automatic requests for documents
    5. Mobile scanning documents
  • 89% of accountants say their clients feel more secure when their documents are password protected by their firm’s online portal

With Our Powers Combined: Firms Benefit of Having Document Management Functionality in One Practice Management Tool (Documents + Client Info + Time and Billing + Workflow)
When document management is a part of a more holistic practice management solution, firms decrease context switching and time spent looking for information/documents, and in turn increase efficiency, client communication, and firm communication.

  • 86% of accountants that use one document management platform say centralizing ALL client info (eDocuments, billing info, payroll documents, cashflow info, etc.) helps them operate more efficiently
  • The top benefits of hosting documents on one platform:
    1. Save time locating documents
    2. Easy for clients to share
    3. Always able to access documents
    4. Make it easy to collect and organize documents
    5. Team editing

Proactive vs. Reactive: Work on the Things that Matter, Quit Spending Time Locating Files
Free up your teams’ time to work on strategic accounting tasks–what you hired them to do–and less time spent on menial tasks like trying to find documents. When your employees spend less time on menial tasks, you and your staff can do more to change your business and less to run it.

  • 47% of accountants report their current document management strategy is a broken process and 79% want a better solution
  • Inefficient document management is a bigger pain point than client appointment “no-shows” for accounting professionals
  • 79% of accountants say they spend too much time tracking down files from inside their firm
  • 82% of wealth management accounting professionals say they spend too much time tracking down files from inside their firm
  • 83% of advisory accounting professionals say tracking down documents is a bigger problem than client appointment “no shows”
  • 76% of accountants say being able to search for and edit a document in their native OS is important to their productivity

Managing Documents in the Cloud Supports Remote Work and Improves Productivity
Utilizing a cloud-based software to store, interact with, and manage documents can decrease the pain that firms experience accessing and working on documents. On the other hand, it can also empower a better remote work experience and improve productivity. This matters more and more in a world where finding talent can be challenging and workforces are spread across greater distances.

  • 55% of accountants store docs in the cloud and 45% store them on their computer
  • 85% of accountants often need to work on the same document from home and from the office
  • 71% of accountants have experienced delays because they couldn’t access a document that was on the computer of a coworker
  • 76% of accountants have worked on a document only to realize that a coworker was working on a newer version of the same document.
  • 58% of accountants have lost important client information by storing documents locally on their personal computer
  • On average, productivity goes up 51% when accountants are able to work on client documents on a shared platform
  • 81% of accountants say transitioning to cloud-based software made remote work easier

A Faster Way to Gather Documents—Client Portal and Mobile Applications
Accountants want and need a faster way to gather documents from their clients. Utilizing a client portal and mobile apps empowers clients to scan documents, upload them, and manage those files in a central place (client portal) as well as decreases the time it takes to gather those documents.

  • 69% of accountants say they spend too much time gathering documents from their clients
  • What most speeds up document collaboration with clients:
    1. Client portal
    2. Automatic reminders for overdue documents
    3. Ability for clients to upload from mobile devices
    4. Automatic requests for documents
    5. Mobile scanning documents

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