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Going paperless checklist  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
June 2013

Q: Our company has finally decided to go paperless, but we are not exactly sure where to begin. Can you provide some guidance for getting started?

A: Most CPAs who go paperless later report they are glad they did. There are many ways to reduce the amount of paper your company consumes and stores, and the good news is this is not an “all or nothing” deal; if desired, you can implement measures gradually until you reach your goals. The checklist below, while certainly not a complete guide, provides tools, solutions, and measures that can help kick-start your move toward a paperless environment.

Scanners1. Scanners. Your first step should be to implement a document scanner policy, either a network-based scanner (such as a Fujitsu fi-6670 for $5,599.99) capable of scanning color and 14-column ledger paper for all to share, or personal scanners (such as the $304 Epson Workforce Pro GT-S50, which I use) for each employee’s desk. Some key features to look for are two-side, multipage scanning; a fast automatic sheet feeder (at least 12 pages per minute); scanning to the cloud; and automatic paper size detection, color detection, and cropping. You might also consider implementing a business card scanner (such as a Corex CardScan Executive for $225).
2. Centralized data storage. To share scanned documents throughout your organization, you should either implement file server data storage or a cloud-based data storage solution (such as Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Amazon EC2, Dropbox, or SugarSync—which all offer at least 1 GB of free data storage with additional storage available for a monthly fee). Set up all authorized personnel as users, grant them the proper share and security permissions, and set scanners to automatically save files to your shared data location. For added protection, files containing client data should be password-protected using 128-bit encryption prior to uploading to a cloud-based drive.

3. Indexed search tools. Implement an indexed searching tool (such as Fast Find included in Windows 8, 7, and Vista). Indexed tools index every word in each data file, including the file name and associated keywords, so users can locate files quickly. Indexed search tools use the same type of technology employed by Bing and Google to return nearly instant search results. Similar search tools include Copernic Desktop Search ($49.95), dtSearch Desktop ($199), Voidtools Everything (free), and X1 Professional Client ($49.95).

Shredders4. Shredders. It is also a good idea to have a few shredders so paper documents can be properly discarded after scanning, or establish a collection box for centralized or professional shredding.

5. Paperless fax. Implement an online fax solution that enables you to send and receive faxes via email. You can usually implement this type of faxing capability directly from your cloud storage solution for no additional charge (initially), or subscribe to specific online faxing solutions such as PATLive ($9.95 per month), MyFax ($10 per month), RapidFAX ($9.95 per month), or RingCentral ($19.99 per month).

6. Paperless bill management. New services such as Manilla (free) can automatically collect and organize all of your bills. Thereafter, log in to see your bills summarized in one location, and if desired, you can set the system to remind you as bills come due. You can also use Manilla to collect and organize frequent flyer and rewards program statements. Similar services include PayTrust ($9.95 per month), Billeo (free), and MyCheckFree (free).

7. Paperless expense reporting. Online expense reporting solutions such as Expensify (free) and Concur expense reporting ($8 per month) enable your employees to fill out expense reports online, including from their smartphones. Thereafter, electronic expense reports containing attached scanned or photographed images of supporting receipts can be submitted electronically. Expensify can even recognize and convert your scanned receipts and enter the data details for you. This approach eliminates paper and rekeying, improves accuracy, saves time, and enables faster work flow and reimbursement approvals.

8. Paperless travel management. Travel management services such as TripIt (free) enable you to plan and capture the specific details of business trips, which are then organized into chronological itineraries and synced to your smartphone for easy access. After the trip, you can save electronic copies of your itineraries, including notes, photos, and documented events, for archival and IRS reporting purposes.

9. eSignatures. Secure digital signature products such as HelloSign (free) enable you to sign electronic documents with legally binding signatures so you can execute paperless contracts without having to print and physically send paper documents back and forth. Similar products include DocuSign (starting at $15 per month) and YouSendIt (free).

10. Electronic notebooks. Encourage employees to use electronic notebooks such as Microsoft OneNote (free with Windows Live account) or Evernote (free) to capture their notes electronically instead of on paper. These tools enable users to capture text, notes, hyperlinks, and images from computers, tablets, or smartphones; thereafter, the information can be accessed from all of a user’s computers or devices. With proper permissions, colleagues can be granted access to selected notes, links, and images as well.

11. Electronic PIM. Use an electronic personal information manager (PIM) to manage your calendar, contacts, and to-do lists (such as those in Outlook) to electronically organize your information, both personally and professionally. Thereafter, your data can be synced to all of your computers or devices for easy access, and if desired, you can share portions of your calendar with colleagues or your administrative assistant.

12. Paperless financial statements and reports. No matter which accounting system you use, you can usually print the system’s financial statements and reports to Excel, PDF, or XPS file formats and send them electronically—and in most cases, you can apply password protection before sending. This method saves paper and toner, and recipients can easily maintain and archive the reports, copy and paste results into Excel without retyping (for what-if analysis purposes), and include portions of the electronic reports in Word documents and emails.

13. Digitize client/customer files. Hire a company specializing in paperless conversions to use high-powered scanning equipment to convert historical paper-based client files to electronic data files, then eliminate your filing cabinets and file rooms.

14. Access news online. Switch paper-based newspaper subscriptions and newsletters to electronic subscriptions, then read online using your computer, Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

Going paperless has many benefits; not only can you help save trees, but you can also reduce clutter, paper and toner costs, and the need for filing cabinets and file room space. In addition, you can make things easier to find, make information instantly accessible to satellite offices and remote users, and enable multiple people access to the same document at the same time. However, you should also heed the cloud security warnings expressed in the April 2013 JofA article “Microsoft Office 2013” (page 32).

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
June 2013

Q: I purchased a new television for use as a computer monitor and connected the device using an HDMI cable, but this solution is not working properly as my computer displays an oversized screen image that is about 10% too big for my monitor. This prevents me from viewing the edges of my display screen, or accessing the Quick Launch toolbar and minimize/restore down/close buttons. I have been unable to find a solution to this problem from my computer and monitor manufacturers. Can you help?

OverscanA: This problem is most likely related to using an HDMI cable to connect a large flat-screen TV to your computer. Televisions usually default to a setting called OverScan mode, which can prevent the television from displaying the computer screen’s size properly unless both devices use identical resolution settings. Because it is connected via HDMI, the television may not recognize that a computer image is being received, therefore, the proper internal adjustments are not automatically applied. To solve this problem, connect the television using a VGA connection, if available. If not, use your television screen’s remote to turn off OverScan so the picture will resize to fit your monitor. (For example, I use two 40-inch Coby television monitors as my computer screens, and on these devices this setting adjustment is made by selecting Menu, Picture, Advanced Video, and setting OverScan to Off.)

Excel at hyphen removal  
By J. Carlton Collins
June 2013

Q: I have an Excel worksheet containing hundreds of Social Security numbers, and I want to remove the hyphens. Can you tell me how this can be done?

A: I can think of two ways to remove hyphens from Social Security numbers in Excel.

Find and Replace method. Select the data containing the Social Security numbers, then from the Home tab’s Editing group, click on Find & Select and select Replace. Enter a hyphen in the Find what text box and leave the Replace with text box blank. Click the Replace All button. (Note: It is possible that your Social Security numbers don’t contain hyphens. Instead they may contain “em” or “en” dashes, but most computer keyboards (especially on laptops) lack those symbols. If this is the case, highlight a cell containing a Social Security number, press the F2 key to enter edit mode, then highlight one of the em or en dashes and press Ctrl+C to copy. Then, when using the Find and Replace method described above, alter the instructions as follows: Instead of entering a hyphen, select the Find what text box and press Ctrl+V to paste an em or en dash into that field.)

Formula methods. You can remove unwanted hyphens using the Substitute function, or a combination of the Left, Mid, and Right functions; both solutions are illustrated in column C in the screenshot below.

(If necessary, use the trick described in option 1 above to copy and paste em or en dashes into your Excel formulas as needed.)

Trigger happy  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
June 2013

Q: I use my client’s GoToMyPC connection once a month to log in to her Windows 7 system to inspect her bookkeeping system and financial reports, and this application is not used for any other purpose. My client does not like having this application up and running on her computer throughout the month and says she would be happier if GoToMyPC could shut itself off when it is not needed, but she doesn’t want to be bothered with launching and closing the application each time I need remote access. Does GoToMyPC offer the option to close it during the month and have it automatically restart at the end of the month?

A: GoToMyPC does not provide scheduled launch and close options, but you can achieve the same effect using Windows Task Scheduler as follows.

1. From the Start button, launch Task Scheduler by selecting Program Files, Accessories, System Tools, and Task Scheduler. (In Windows 8, press Windows key+F to launch the search tool to locate the accessory. This accessory is called Scheduled Tasks in Windows XP.)

2. Under the Actions section, select Create a Basic Task.

3. Enter a name and description in the Name and Description boxes, and then click Next.

4. On the task Trigger screen, select Monthly, and then click Next.

5. On the Monthly screen, select all of the months from the Months dropdown box, enter 5 in the Days box, then click Next.

6. On the Action screen, select Start a program, and then click Next.

7. In the Program/script box, browse to and select the GoToMyPC application file and press Enter, click Next, and then click Finish.

Thereafter, your client’s computer will start GoToMyPC on the fifth day of each month (in this example), enabling you to log in and remotely access the system. When you have completed your remote session, close the GoToMyPC application as you exit the client’s computer. The application will remain closed until the fifth of the following month, when it will once again automatically launch. (Note: Windows Task Scheduler does not launch automatically when Windows is asleep; therefore, this tip works best when applied to an active computer.)

Five iPhone tips  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
June 2013

Zoom1. Magnify. To magnify the iPhone’s screen to improve readability and view image details, enable screen zooming by double-tapping the screen with three fingers. You can then pan the screen image by dragging with three fingers. To use this feature, you must first turn it on by selecting Settings, General, Accessibility, and set Zoom to ON.

2. Undo enlarged text. Sometimes your iPhone’s screen may suddenly display enlarged text, and restoring the screen to display regular size text seems impossible. Usually when this happens, you have accidentally turned on screen zooming as described in the previous tip. If this happens, double-tap the screen with three fingers to restore the screen magnification.

3. Reopen last closed window. If you accidentally close a browser window, reopen it from the History menu by selecting Bookmarks, History, and touch-selecting the desired webpage.

4. When apps lock. If an iPhone app locks up, press and hold the Home button for six seconds to close the app. If this does not solve the problem, press and hold both Home and On/Off for 10 seconds to reboot the iPhone.

5. Scroll to the top instantly. In Safari, after scrolling far down to read dozens of stories, news feeds, or Pinterest pins, tapping the time or the top of the Status Bar returns you instantly to the top of the Safari window.

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