Document Management Solutions for CPA Firms

Every aspect of the CPA profession relies heavily on the supporting documents, records, prepared statements, and audit findings that accountants handle every day. As the financial year-end looms ever closer, the amount of information that the office generates, stores, searches, and references increases exponentially during the daily workflows. While CPAs know this is a necessary part of their jobs, it could open the firm up to liabilities if sensitive information does not remain protected.

A simple misplaced document or uncollected print job doesn’t constitute a serious breach, but the wrong document in the wrong hands can be a treasure trove for criminals. Additionally, with the rise in popularity of phishing attacks that lead to ransomware exploits, ensuring the security of all data should be a primary concern for firms. This is why document management solutions for CPA firms can assist with both securing sensitive information while streamlining the office’s workflows.

Document Security Considerations for Accountants

Various state and federal laws apply when it comes to handling, storing, and processing financial information. Firms collect everything from Social Security numbers, business financial statements, bank details, or credit card information. Firms understand that data and document security presents a significant risk for their operations, but often lack the expertise required to establish appropriate controls for their information management systems.

If the firm already makes use of an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS), it’s easier to implement security best practices. However, if the firm still relies on physical document storage and filing practices, more considerable effort will be required.

Establish Document Access Controls

Firms can’t eliminate the need for physical documents, meaning they’ll need to implement improved physical and logical access controls. In the physical areas where the firm stores their data (in cabinets or on servers), access should be restricted with a lock or code-based system. Ideally, logical access controls will integrate with the firm’s active directory to ensure authentication and authorization.

Role-based access control should follow the least-privilege philosophy, meaning users only have the minimum access required for conducting their specific duties. The firms need to regularly review all access privileges and modify the role models if an employee leaves, changes job roles, or becomes disgruntled. It’s essential to keep in mind that not every breach attempt originates from outside the organization.

Encrypt all Electronic Documents and Data

All flash drives, hard discs, servers, and network folders require encryption. The firm needs to encrypt data during transmission at the source, including information captured from scanners or sent to a printer. Additional pull-to-print controls will prevent uncollected print jobs piling up at the copier or Multifunction Printer (MFP), reducing the risk of uncontrolled disclosures.

Data encryption solves two problems for CPA firms. Firstly, it prevents unauthorized access to specific information from employees, but it also protects the data from ransomware attacks. A ransomware attack usually encrypts all network information and requires a ransom payment from the company before releasing the decryption key. If the firm encrypted their data, the cybercriminal would need a decrypt key themselves before they can take the data hostage. Modern EDMS comes with the latest encryption capabilities and integrate with existing software systems for improved processing security.

Demonstrate Compliance with Audit Trails

A complete history of every electronic record reduces the cost of regulatory compliance. Depending on the designation or classification of the document, different retention, destruction, or modification rules apply. Audit trails will record every time someone accessed the document, made changes to it, or whether anyone moved, copied, or renamed them in the past.

With transactional audit trails, the firm can trace the entire history of every electronic file. If any problems arise, the firm can quickly generate a historical report and investigate which users made which changes. When the firm also uses automated workflows for task routing, the decisions, approvals, and comments provide additional context behind any document changes.

Enhance Disaster Recovery

A critical element of document security is disaster recovery. Regular backups enable firms to recover either entire systems or specific documents quickly and easily. Physical reserves remain popular, but the latest cloud service providers offer a cost-effective alternative. If the EDMS comes with cloud storage included, recovering from a disaster is almost effortless.

Streamlining Accounting Workflows with James Imaging Systems

The latest EDMS technologies enable CPA firms to improve their daily operations and speed up task processing, while also keeping all their information secure. James Imaging Systems has a legacy of matching the right technology with the firm or organization’s needs to increase office productivity. With specific document management software for CPA firms, finding the right solution requires an in-depth understanding of the company’s daily workflows and unique industry requirements.

For a free financial services technology assessment, contact us to request one today!