Accountants Document Management Unders Scrutiny

by Gary Howes - Date: 2008-07-30 - Word Count: 620 Share This!

Searching for documents is costing UK Chartered Accountants a staggering £2 million per day in lost fees, according to independent research released today.

The survey, which was commissioned by Invu and conducted by YouGov, revealed that chartered accountants are wasting valuable time trying to locate documents that have been mis-filed, moved to another location or simply lost, costing businesses dearly.


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Yet despite this, just one in four accountancy practices have replaced their paper filing with digital document management, making it no surprise that only 3% of operate a paperless office.

With more than 270,000 chartered accountants in the UK, and the survey finding that 83% of them waste up to one hour (worth £88 on average*) of their time per day looking for documents, it is little wonder that this wasted time is costing them £2 million per day.

The survey also revealed that accountants waste more time than looking for documents than other vertical markets, with nearly 26% of their time being wasted, compared to 21% in industries such as construction, legal and insurance.

The root cause of this inefficiency is paper; just 3% of accountancies have 91% or more of their documents saved electronically, even though paper documents can easily be lost or mis-filed due to human error.  

With only 3% of survey respondents stating that they don't believe digital document management would benefit them, the question of why more companies have not yet taken the plunge and become paperless leaps to the fore, particularly considering the growing need to efficiently store and retrieve documents for compliance and audit purposes.

When asked what they would do if they were not wasting time looking for documents, 32% of accountants stated that they would concentrate on administration, compared to other industries, which stated 26%, highlighting the sheer volume of paperwork in the accountancy sector and the need for efficient filing.

Only 26% of accountants stated that they would spend time on business development compared with 31% across all other industries. In addition to this, 20% of accountants said that they would go home on time and 12% said they would spend more time with their team.

"Accountancy practices have to deal with and store huge volumes of documents for both compliance and audit purposes, so it's not surprising that they are struggling to keep on top of each and every file.  But it is shocking to think that chartered accountants are wasting over £2 million just looking for documents," commented David Morgan, CEO, Invu.  

"By simply deploying a document management system, accountants can streamline the management of all documents and records by ensuring that everything is filed electronically and is searchable at the touch of button, saving time as well as improving efficiency and productivity," says Morgan.

The IFA comments"I am not surprised with the results of this research", said David Woodgate, Chief Executive, Institute of Financial Accountants. He added, "As an Institute we are working very closely with our members to use technology and more efficient ways of working, so they can concentrate on more important things such as improving services to clients"

On the plus side, 25% of accountants have already implemented a digital document management system.  20% cited the savings they had made as a result of not needing storage space for filing cabinets as a major benefit and 4% of respondents said that they implemented a solution in order to meet regulations, such as the Data Protection Act.

For those accountants that don't yet have a document management system, just over a quarter (27%) were apprehensive about high upfront expenditure; a worry that may be unfounded as it has been shown that ROI can be achieved within six months with this kind of system.

Related Tags: document management, uk accountants, uk accountants management, uk document management, accountants lose money, uk accountats lose money

Gary Howes is Online Editor of Director of Finance Online.
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