Published in Small Business Services – January 2008

Just storing documents or changing the way we work: Things to consider when combining a workflow and document system.

Document Management has many known benefits promoting cost savings, but is going paperless enough in an effort to save costs for the small office? Having access to electronic documents is not the only way to save money. Improving the way we work has far reaching benefits and higher cost savings than just getting rid of paper and file cabinets. The real savings comes when the office is transformed by the centralization and integration of documents and workflow.

In the small office, the owner ultimately does most of the management of clients, workflow and staff. When staff need new assignments or have questions on their existing work, they come to the owner for assistance, creating constant interruptions to the owner’s valuable time. This becomes very costly to the entire firm. What if small office owners had a tool that could radically change the way the delegate and manage? A tool that provides a work list that links staff to workflow and documents and a method for owners to improve delegation of tasks. Office Tools Pro is that tool.

As an example, your client Mr. Smith mails you an IRS notice regarding an error on a tax return. You scan it in to a document management system or server folder and hand the original to Bob, one of your staff, to “take care of it”. Bob takes the client file, completes the work required and logs his time. In many firms, this work is tracked using Excel spreadsheets and Outlook.

However, let’s consider a different methodology using one tool, one piece of software, Office Tools Pro. Create a project selecting IRS notice in Office Tools Pro for Mr. Smith, with an applicable due date from the letter, assigning Bob to work on it. Then scan the document into Office Tools Pro to the same project and assign a document review for Bob. Bob receives an electronic message to review the original letter with a link to the document. No meetings, emails or other communication is necessary.

With Office Tools Pro you or your staff can track the progress of the project. Let’s say Bob needs to write a letter to the IRS regarding the notice. He could simply write a letter and have you review it or he could create it in Office Tools Pro and send you a document review. In Office Tools Pro, he would create a Word or WordPerfect letter, using a document template from within the program. Once completed, he can send you an electronic message to review his letter for approval. He can also have Office Tools Pro prompt him to log his time upon completion of each step or task. Once you approve his work, you can send a document review to him with the message, “OK to Send”. He prints, email or mails the letter and indicates so in Office Tools Pro.

Office Tools Pro tracks the document review until its complete tracking each step, time used and any details. At any time, you can see the open project assigned to Bob, the time he has spent on it and either the original IRS notice or his letter. With Office Tools Pro workflow methodology workflow and documents are managed in the same place.

This kind of integration can be carried to all aspects of the office. From tax preparation to bookkeeping work. From simple delegation to complete document production and workflow tracking. By keeping client information, staffing and workflow tightly linked, the small office becomes more efficient. By increasing efficiencies the firm can take on more work increasing revenue for the same labor costs.

We call it Office Tools Pro workflow methodology. One simple interface for the entire office to use to increase efficiencies and revenues and lower costs.

Office Tools Pro pricing starts at $550 for a single license and $175 for each additional user. 888.667.8440

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