Free Trial: TheSiteFactory.com

Document Management Software

Software. Marketing. Training. Running your business.
#1
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
I'm looking into using a document management software as we get ready to move. Smart Fault has been suggested to me. I need to signup for a 15 minute demo, there doesn't seem to be any other way to do a demo. What do I need to be looking for with this type of software? What should I be prepared to ask the person doing the demo? I checked their reviews and mostly they are good, some people mentioned that the cost is high, but $12 a month doesn't seem prohibitive to me. Some of the reviews complain about speed and needing to log in and use passwords for clients to access their data. Anyone else using this software? Can you tell me your experience?

I also Googled document management software and found there are a ton of different products out there, I really don't want to go through all of them, I don't have that kind of patience. Most of the reviews I saw were pretty good, so it looks like either only people who like the product are reviewing or once someone gets used to their software, they just don't change.

I won't be continuing with a large clientele, but the distance from my clients will make this an appealing way to send and save files. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

PS Does any of this software have a demo without needing to sign up for it? I really don't want to be inundated with e-mails and phone calls from vendors especially when I don't really know what the processes look like at all.
 

#2
wel  
Posts:
54
Joined:
3-Sep-2016 4:29am
Location:
USA
There are several good DMS products available today. The ideal DMS solution for you depends on a few factors - here are a few of these factors, I'm sure others will chime in with additional factors:

- What is the expected size of your firm?
- What software products do you use? (There may be significant efficiency gains with using a DMS from the same company that makes your tax software, for example. This is particularly important if you have little / no admin help.)
- Do you have an existing client portal that you intend to keep, or do you want a DMS that has portal functionality / integration capabilities?

I suspect that you will have to sign up for any demo versions. It would probably be a good idea to develop your "short list" and only sign up to demo a small number. FWIW, my experience has been that the calls/emails stop when you politely tell the rep that you "appreciate their help, but have decided on another product and to please remove you from the call/email list." Most of these reps understand that they're more likely to get another shot later if they don't pester you incessantly.

Good luck!
 

#3
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
Thanks for the comments WEL, It helps since i'm venturing into an area I know next to nothing about. I was hoping for a few more responses regarding software being used by others so I could whittle down my choices. There must have been fifty different programs on the Google list and none of the ones I checked have demos available, you have to sign up for them. I don't want to spend that much time on this.
 

#4
Wiles  
Posts:
3110
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 9:42am
Location:
Bay Area - CA
What do you want your DMS to do?
Are you talking about a place to save internal documents, e.g. scanned workpapers and pdf copies of tax returns?

Or are you talking about a client portal for delivery of tax returns? And also a place for clients to upload their documents?
Last edited by Wiles on 28-Sep-2019 4:20pm, edited 1 time in total.
 

#5
Wiles  
Posts:
3110
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 9:42am
Location:
Bay Area - CA
And did you mean Smart Vault in the OP?
 

#6
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
Yes, Smart Vault. Since I'm moving out of the area, I want to have a place where clients can scan and send documents that I can retrieve to prepare a tax return; then I can securely send them the completed return and have them sign whatever would need to be signed. Then in the end it is stored and available to a client for future reference. If someone mails their documents to me, then I would want to scan them into the same software and keep them for future reference, which a client could also access if necessary. Drake has a built in document management system that people seem to love or hate, I have not yet tried it. I've just started looking into this so I'm wondering about the experience of others with other software and help in narrowing the field in scheduling demos for software.
 

#7
Posts:
672
Joined:
21-May-2018 7:50am
Location:
SC
I switched to SmartVault from ShareFile. It is infinitely better for DMS and exchanging documents. I modified the Tax Template folders and for each tax year, it makes it very easy to determine files I delivered to them, files they delivered to me, organizers, and Client Copy tax returns (I disabled the other options, such as Government Copy, since my Client copies contain EVERYTHING).

So far, I really like it. I love its integration with DocoSign and the Desktop and Outlook utilities where I can do almost everything I typically want to do without having to log in at the SmartVault website. Like ShareFile, I can send documents or links and request information by inserting links into an e-mail, and remains secure since they have to have a SmartVault account to access their portal.

IMO, based on what you have said, SmartVault will do precisely what you want. I pay $35 for the tax preparer version (didn't care about the accounting crap) and it is worth every penny. Their support has also been stellar.

Another nice feature is it has a public documents folder. If you need to distribute something to all clients (not confidential), this is how you can easily send it and they'll be alerted to the upload per whatever their upload notifications are (each client can set their own notification schedule). There is also another folder strictly for internal use, not visible by any client., if you wish to retain them in the DMS instead of your other file storage system. I do not like keeping tax documents other than prepared forms/completed returns in the DMS, so I offload what clients provide to OneDrive by tax client and maintain folders by year--effectively working papers. I do not want my systems to become their dependency for when they cannot keep track of their own documents, though I'll happily keep tax returns available for download.
 

#8
Posts:
310
Joined:
19-Nov-2014 5:47pm
Location:
USA
Smart Vault is great. We have been using it for 3 or 4 years now. They just bumped our fee for 4 users from $1,000/yr to about $1,500/yr. Big increase, but overall, the product is more than worth it.

A lot of my clients don't email or drop off the documents anymore. They upload the scanned documents to SmartVault. We then get an email notification. It's great when the client scans the documents and puts them in the file for you.

The only downside is the upload speed. I have clients uploading large QuickBooks files. It is not the best software for that. We typically have them send large files through DropBox. SmartVault takes forever to upload large files to, and I've had clients get errors saying the files were too big.
 

#9
Posts:
672
Joined:
21-May-2018 7:50am
Location:
SC
Taxman40 wrote:
The only downside is the upload speed. I have clients uploading large QuickBooks files. It is not the best software for that. We typically have them send large files through DropBox. SmartVault takes forever to upload large files to, and I've had clients get errors saying the files were too big.


I hate exchanging Quickbooks files, whether complete backups or accountant copies; instead, I just install remote connection software on their PCs and I'll do it after hours or when it is not being used. Simply easier, unless they then do not realize I logged in as an accountant user to unlock accountant's toolbox, and then they wonder why they cannot log in. :roll:
 

#10
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
I've watched a couple of demos now and have Secure File Pro for Drake on my computer. How are you using the data from the clients? It looks to me that W-2's, 1099's, K-1's etc are going to need to be printed out in order to prepare a tax return, which defeats the purpose of going paperless. I see where it will work to receive the documents over a secure connection and how I can send a return the same way and store it without printing, but utilizing the information seems to be eluding me if the goal is to be paperless.
 

#11
wel  
Posts:
54
Joined:
3-Sep-2016 4:29am
Location:
USA
I've never used Secure File Pro. From what I understand, it's basically a client portal - and I've used a few different types of those.

Quick question - are you using multiple monitors? It's pretty much impossible to be productive with going paperless if you are only using one monitor. In a paperless environment, screen space is much more valuable than desk space. A preparer would typically have their workpapers on one screen and the tax software on another screen, side by side. Sorry for that sidebar, you may already know this, but I didn't want to make any assumptions.

Back to your particular question - you may need to export/"print" the documents from the client to PDFs that you use as workpaper(s) for supporting documentation. You can annotate the PDF with references, tickmarks, etc. -depending on your process. (You may need a PDF editor, if you don't have one.)

I hope this helps.
 

#12
Posts:
672
Joined:
21-May-2018 7:50am
Location:
SC
actionbsns wrote: It looks to me that W-2's, 1099's, K-1's etc are going to need to be printed out in order to prepare a tax return, which defeats the purpose of going paperless...but utilizing the information seems to be eluding me if the goal is to be paperless.


Create a single PDF file from all received documents and then use the Adobe Acrobat Tic-Tac-Calc plug-in. No paper involved, has calculator function that can be pasted to any page, bunch of other features. I have had issues with bookmarks/templates, but suspect that will change if I switch tax software and can use template bookmarks that already exists, rather than creating one from scratch. The plug-in is imperfect, but beats the heck out of dealing with paper and then scanning copies.
 

#13
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
Thanks for the help and taking the time again to answer questions. The idea of dual monitors came to me last night as I was thinking it through more. Are they hard to set up? I was wondering if I would be able to use my IPad, or my Chromebook alongside the computer. I pulled up some samples last night on my Chromebook and theoretically it could work. In reality the dual screens might be better. I'll take a look at the Adobe Tic Tac Calc plug in. One of the softwares I looked at yesterday has that capability, but I think it was expensive. This is going to be quite a learning experience. I worked out a problem I was having with e-mails yesterday after an intense period of time working with it, ended up to be a user error. Most likely not the first one. I will appreciate any help and suggestions anyone has to make this easier or just think about something that hasn't yet occurred to me.
 

#14
Posts:
672
Joined:
21-May-2018 7:50am
Location:
SC
Setting up dual/multiple monitors is simple. At one point in my life, I had six 24" monitors (2x3 arrangement, and used every single one. That PC had three graphics cards. Now I am down to two 32" and one 24", though thinking the 24" will become a 17" laptop that powers the two 32" screens. Current PC and future laptop outputs are/will be powered by a single graphics card.

To set up monitors depends on your PC...laptop or desktop? And then what video outputs does it have available to connect monitors? For laptops, it is easiest to acquire a dock you connect everything to, though some laptops simply require it for multiple monitors. Desktop depends on existing graphics, whether on the motherboard or a separate graphics card, and available outputs. Sounds complicated, but it is actually very simple.
 

#15
Posts:
1346
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 11:24am
Location:
North Carolina
I am no computer expert, but I hooked up a 15" laptop to a 24" monitor and I cannot imagine I would wish to go any smaller. The laptop size is barely enough.
 

#16
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
I have a question for those of you using Smart Vault. Are you using La Certe or Pro Series as your tax software? I'm using Drake and so far this morning, I'm not able to export my tax files to SV. I can download a PDF of the return and store it there, but I'm not getting the program to send my client an e-mail with an access code that works (I'll try that again), but even if I get that to work, it doesn't look like the feature that only allows the client to see the "Client" part of the stored documents is working. Tech support is closed today.
 

#17
Posts:
672
Joined:
21-May-2018 7:50am
Location:
SC
You have to use the SmartVault printer and the autofile function. Select client, tax engagement tax year, and then print to the client copy folder after naming the file. It will then show up in SmartVault as a tax return to be sent to the client (under Send Tax Returns). I have been doing this with UltraTax as I evaluate transitioning to LaCerte (90% certain I I will prior to 2020). It is far more automated when using LaCerte, there are literally checkbox buttons for clients in the print dialog screen.
 

#18
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
I've been on the phone most of the morning with the Smart Vault tech support There is a problem installing the SV PDF printer. Without that I can't really do what I want to do most of all which is to download, store and send tax returns for clients. I've installed and uninstalled the program several times, followed some instructions sent by tech support to create a clean uninstall to facilitate a clean install. Nothing makes a difference. The program isn't downloading the "tree" correctly either. There should be three files that are for clients and they start with that word, that's not there. It's fast approaching the point where I just say never mind I'll use the another program, which is a shame because this one comes highly recommended.
 

#19
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
Woo Hoo! I think I've worked this problem through. My computer doesn't show SV PDF printer, but it does show Micosoft Print to PDF which functions exactly like you say Cornerstone and as the articles that I've read say. With the auto filer function working, the client tree is set up the way I was expecting to see. I sent a TR to my own e-mail address and that worked, too. So now I'm going to send one to a client who has agreed to test the client side of the software. I'm really happy now, this software has attributes I like better than Drake's portal so it should make for better decision making.
 

#20
Posts:
2
Joined:
16-Dec-2014 11:04am
Location:
VA
Great discussion so far on DMS. We are a small firm with 5 users and are using intuit DMS. We are thinking to switch to efilecabinet. Can anyone please share the experience with efilecabinet. Thanks
 

#21
Posts:
672
Joined:
21-May-2018 7:50am
Location:
SC
Also, FYI, since someone mentioned Intuit's DMS, they heavily promote only using Intuit Link despite offering the SmartVault integration. Since I believe I am switching to LaCerte, I am either not going to use LInk at all, or only use portions of it. I do not intend to switch my clients to yet something else when I just switched them away from ShareFile--and the DocuSign integration with SmartVault is simply excellent. If I use Intuit Link (which seems nice, but they have no demo), it will be for clients to deliver supporting documents to me, and SmartVault will be for engagement/mandatory forms, efile, final work, etc., as my ultimate DMS.

I used eFileCabinet when it first came out and absolutely hated it. Perhaps it has improved since then, looks like they have changed it, dramatically. The software simply did not work as marketed, and the founder of the company refused to do anything to assist. And it WAS NOT cheap software at the time.
 

#22
TaxCut  
Posts:
81
Joined:
24-Feb-2017 12:05pm
Location:
California
I also plan on swtiching to SmartVault from Drakes SecureFile Pro.

It is easy enough to print return to SmartVault from Drake.

I plan on sticking with Drake as my tax software but one nice feature about Lacerte is that you can send a copy of the return to the printer, DMS and SmartVault all in one step. I don't know if that's worth the extra cost of Lacerte though. :lol:
 

#23
Posts:
672
Joined:
21-May-2018 7:50am
Location:
SC
Just depends on your practice and desires. I am used to using premium tax software (UT), and pass all costs along to tax clients, so it does not bother me except when I initially have to fork out money. The improved UIs, resources, and reliability of asset modules, for example, make it worthwhile as my tax base expands and I end up filing in more and more states, and increasingly complicated returns.
 

#24
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
I'm signed up at Smart Vault for at least a year now. I'm still working out some issues, mostly user type issues. It's falling into place though and I've connected now with three clients who will tell me what they think on their end and understand any mistake I might make. One thing bothers me that I can't do anything about is that tech support is outsourced to India. I spoke with two people the other day, one with an accent so thick I had a really hard time understanding her, she finally reduced the conversation to three articles to help solve the problem. Later someone called me and I asked where she was located, she said India and I said I preferred someone from the US. I don't feel comfortable turning my computer over remotely to outsourced tech support. I have an account manager who is in Texas and I think he'll be a great help for whatever else might come up. Generally I'm pretty comfortable with the program. I really appreciate all the help that I've gotten here.
 

#25
TaxCut  
Posts:
81
Joined:
24-Feb-2017 12:05pm
Location:
California
Update or I guess review on SmartVault. I am rethinking my use of SmartVault and will probably stick with SecureFilePro through Drake.

There are 738 clients exported to SmartVault, 147 missing email addresses, 284 not invited yet, 76 invited, 231 Activated.

Of the 231 maybe 10 use it and of those 10 at least 5 have contacted the office to say they can't login or if we can just email the return. Seems like we're providing a service that is not being used. I took over an office and this is how it was setup by prior preparer. The way I see it is too much work to have assistant upload docs to system that's not being utilized.

Anyone see it differently.
 

#26
smtcpa  
Posts:
207
Joined:
28-Jul-2014 5:16am
Location:
Colorado
Yes, we are almost 100% portal. Everyone uses is to access returns and upload documents. Not everyone uploads all documents (many still drop off or mail-in) but almost everyone will get their returns through the portal.

TaxCut wrote:Update or I guess review on SmartVault. I am rethinking my use of SmartVault and will probably stick with SecureFilePro through Drake.

There are 738 clients exported to SmartVault, 147 missing email addresses, 284 not invited yet, 76 invited, 231 Activated.

Of the 231 maybe 10 use it and of those 10 at least 5 have contacted the office to say they can't login or if we can just email the return. Seems like we're providing a service that is not being used. I took over an office and this is how it was setup by prior preparer. The way I see it is too much work to have assistant upload docs to system that's not being utilized.

Anyone see it differently.
 

#27
TaxCut  
Posts:
81
Joined:
24-Feb-2017 12:05pm
Location:
California
smtcpa wrote:almost everyone will get their returns through the portal.


Do you not provide a printed copy? Or do you give them a printed copy and also upload to portal?

I plan on providing a printed copy to those who want it and upload to portal for those who want to use portal. I also plan on pushing for clients to submit docs through portal. Docs in portal will be available for up to 1 year I guess. Haven't decided. I just don't plan on maintaining a portal for all clients if they're not using it. I think SecureFilePro can do what I need as well as esignature and collect payments. May not not be as robust as SmartVault but it gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

Critics of my planned procedure are welcome....
 

#28
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
Yesterday I started working in Smart Vault with more of a purpose instead of at the learning level. I'm going slowly so that when I start adding clients more rapidly I'll be more knowledgeable of the software and have confidence in it and what I'm doing. With the clients added at this point, those who are tolerant of the learning curve and will work with me not knowing everything, I've added 2018 and 2017 tax returns and have scanned in the source documents. I'm still on the fence about how quickly I will trust this method and actually become a paperless office. I can see the benefits, but I still like having my hands on the paper. I can also see that sliding to the background as I get more used to it.

I do like the program, I don't like the idea of tech support being in India, although I have been able to speak with someone in Texas. I won't release control of my computer to someone outside the US. I've told them that and they have been tolerant of working through a couple of issues. The idea of tech support in India isn't just the fact that the person is in a different country, it's communication skills as well. Last week I had an issue with the portal for one client, which was worked out, but getting there was a challenge at the communication level as well as the problem itself. The English of the tech guy was limited and writing a clear sentence in English was a challenge. Some of what he wrote just didn't make sense. I did speak on the phone with another tech person, and had a similar problem, the accent and use of the English language was a challenge. It's kind of hard to review the support that has been given and not sound like a racist jerk in this instance. But the people trying to help have to be able to communicate in our language well, or it just doesn't work.
 

#29
Posts:
1263
Joined:
21-Apr-2014 12:31pm
Location:
HAWAII
Cornerstone, what remote access application are you using that you can install onto someone's computer? The two that I've used are Log Me In and Go To My PC. Both of them require subscriptions by me and the client and can get costly for the client who only needs me to be in their file once or twice a year for a few hours, or just long enough to do the payroll taxes, or whatever is required. My clients have balked at the cost.
 


Return to Business Operations and Development



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: DeborahNY and 58 guests