Roger Mongeon: Don't Overlook the Risks and Liabilities

Doc.It VP warns of relying on the wrong paperless strategy

What do CPAs sometimes overlook in going paperless?


In the rush to go paperless, many firms fail to consider the liabilities and ramifications for not addressing how electronic files are published and archived. Some may prematurely stop printing or publishing their final files on paper or in a PDF. At best, some firms do still publish tax returns or financial statements to a PDF, but these don’t make up the entire accountant or client file.


What are the downsides to saving solely electronic source-files?


Depending on the way in which a file is formatted, it may be difficult to later reproduce the document in its original form (even if the lockdown feature, available in some tax and trial-balance software, is employed). Therefore, accountants—who need to access information for years to come—may wish to also retain printed versions of source-files.


What do you mean by “publishing”? And why is the concept important to CPAs?


We believe that prudent accountants are suspicious of software vendors that encourage firms to lock down the original data file and rely on document re-production with later versions of the application software. When firms are paper-based, they publish a final copy of their files to the paper file room. Publishing (like printing) ensures the entire file can be reproduced accurately.


So how should CPAs look for a paperless solution?


Practices should look for technology that keeps archived PDF files in logical folders within the operating system, independent of the vendor’s software, to allow the firm control of their client’s records. Doc.It’s bookmarked, archived PDFs are rich with content and easily navigated. PDF files retain their integrity and can be relied upon for years to come.



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