Buying software is really hard.
There are so many features out there and oftentimes you’re comparing apples to oranges.
In this article, we will discuss the three factors we believe accountants and auditors should look for when they choose document request (sometimes called provided by client, or PBC) software: simplicity for clients, efficiency for staff, and visibility for management. Let’s take them in order.
1. Simplicity for Clients
A common frustration faced by clients is the friction around using the most client portals. From creating an account and navigating password resets to grappling with an unfamiliar user interface (UI), the client's experience is often far from seamless. These hurdles may leave your clients exhausted and frustrated, reflecting poorly on your firm and projecting an image that you don’t care about your client’s experience.
Many modern applications (including UpLink) make use of “secure links” (sometimes referred to as magic links). Sites automatically generate specific links for each user and the link is delivered to the user’s inbox. These links expire after a set time period, and the user can request a new one without requiring your involvement. This makes the login process so much easier for clients.
But once they’re in, you still want to make sure the interface is user-friendly. This can be done by only showing the client what they need to see at that moment, for example, the current requests that are assigned to them ranked by priority. Simplicity in this regard bolsters user engagement and encourages clients to provide requisite documents promptly.
2. Efficiency for Staff
Your staff's ability to quickly review submitted documents is critical in avoiding unnecessary delays. Lagging responses or requests for additional evidence can lead to significant hold-ups, slowing down your engagements.
Your software should support not just document uploading but also facilitate review of that evidence. Your teams should be able to preview documents within the application, rather than having to download them separately. The app should also harness artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline the reviewing procedures. For example, with UpLink, AI can answer predefined queries based on the content of the document, particularly valuable for sample testing.
This streamlining enables you to get the review of documents done faster, so you can identify any issues early and follow up with the client appropriately.
3. Visibility for Management
Lastly, ensuring that managers and partners can readily access and interpret data across multiple engagements is crucial. Early surfacing of issues can alert management to a potential problem. For instance, if a request has been returned to the client multiple times, the manager can coach the associate to call the client, rather than going back and forth via email.
Visibility is not just about tackling issues but also maintaining a birds-eye-view of overall progress, from pending items to the age of days outstanding. Management should have real-time access to these analytics on their devices, be it tablets or phones. The easier this is to access, the better. For example, dashboards available on your smartphone or tablet can keep you apprised of status as you’re walking into a client meeting.
Choosing the right PBC software
Each firm will weigh these factors differently depending upon the type of work they do and their particular business needs, but every firm should consider each of these criteria carefully when making their selection, but the right tool will do all three well.