BURBANK, Calif.— CPA firms stand to become significantly more productive when they learn to fall out of love with paper, according to Jack Benadon, a partner in Benadon, Shapiro & Villalobos, a 50-year-old CPA firm based here.
“We are 30 to 40 percent more productive since we converted to digital filing three years ago,” he says. “Looking back, the most important part of making that happen was the commitment we made as a company to stop using paper before we made the investment.”
“In the beginning, we forced ourselves to work from our desktops. It’s now second nature to the point where we would never want to go back to the way things used to be.”
Benadon, Shapiro & Villalobos breaks free of the temptation to work with paper by scanning it into a digital document management system powered by Laserfiche as soon as it arrives in the office. On the advice of Laserfiche value added reseller Adjamian Affiliated, Inc., of Encino, Calif., the firm stations a digital scanner on the desk of every staff member, including the three partners, to be sure that every relevant file is digitized as quickly as possible.
By the end of their first tax season with Laserfiche, the firm had eliminated 80 percent of the paper in its file room. The room is now all but empty. In addition, they have been able cut back significantly on their off-site storage needs.
“We’ve kept the space basically as an expansion option,” says Benadon. “At this point, however, we’re handling 20 percent more business with the same number of people, thanks to going paperless.”
Another partner in the firm, Stuart Shapiro, sees improved service as the biggest benefit of working with digital files. “We’re able to respond to requests for information in one quick phone call instead of having to go look for the files and call back,” he says. “Typically, we are able to give them what they need, including sending things by fax or email, in a minute or two compared with 15 to 30 minutes if we had to go looking for the files.”
“The clients, banks and law firms really like it. At the same time, our ability to handle requests more quickly is the number one reason that we are so much more productive. It’s a good combination that makes us a stronger company.”
Benadon and Shapiro are aware that they are ahead of many other CPA firms in going digital through their participation in industry conferences. “The other firms are impressed with what we do but tend to be slow to make similar commitments,” Shapiro says. “A good part of the reason is the fact that accountants love paper. They need to get over that barrier and trust that doing it the new way is going make things much better. It’s the most innovative thing we’ve done in the last ten years.”
About Benadon, Shapiro & Villalobos Benadon, Shapiro & Villalobos, Certified Public Accountants, is a third generation CPA firm offering a wide range of services to individuals and businesses, including many in the entertainment industry.
Based in Long Beach, Calif., Laserfiche (www.laserfiche.com) creates simple and elegant document management solutions that help organizations run smarter. Laserfiche solutions are used in more than 22,000 government and business offices worldwide.