Question

Managing client records

  • 21 September 2022
  • 10 replies
  • 72 views

Hi Everyone

We need help in managing clients records inwards and outward.  Client send records by post/email/dext etc.  How can we create a records management system?

 

Any idea?

 

With regards

 

Kamlesh Rajput


10 replies

Userlevel 4
Badge +2

The rescheduling fee sounds interesting. We have talked about possibly charging for extensions, and offering a lower fixed fee for early document submission and a higher fixed fee for later document submissions. So far, none of those options have made it to an experiment yet.

We’re also looking at tightening up this whole area. And we like the idea of a carrot (a lower fee or a scalable discount based on when all information/documentation is supplied) rather than a stick (higher fee for late supply).

e.g. Our tax y/e is March. We’d aim to get all info requests out by end of April or May. If a client supplied everything by end of June, they’d get a 15% discount, by end of July 10%, end of August 5%, after that nothing.

Maybe after that, we start increasing fees per month. End of Sept +5%, End of Oct +10%, etc or perhaps we just start billing the time for chasing separately (we’re a fixed fee practice for most work).

Again, just talk at this stage - we haven’t put anything into practice/experiment but definitely want to have something in place by April 2023.

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Hi @Kamlesh, welcome to the Karbon community! 😀

Client send records by post/email/dext etc.  How can we create a records management system?

This is one of the most difficult things we are dealing with right now. I don’t have an answer or best practice for you, but I’ll share the experiments we are running now.

  • We set up a shared inbox called office@[ourfirm].com and connected it so that the admin teams receives the emails in their triage
  • All document requests go out from our firm from that office email
  • All mail is reviewed by the admin team and scanned to the appropriate client folder

Our admin team is the primary contact the client deals with the pass information back and forth. They file the information in our client folder structure and only when all the information for a work item has arrived do they pass the work item to the preparation team.

I don’t know if that’s helpful. I’m curious what others suggest.

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Something we started last year and will continue with this tax season is refusing to start work until we have all the documents we know we need. If there are any documents that we still know we need, we simply do not move the work item out of “Waiting for client info” and leave it on the admin to keep following up.

We have experimented with a few different follow-up systems. This is what our admin team is doing right now:

  • Client task reminders sent no more than every 3 days (5 total emails)
  • Phone call once per week to all phone numbers on file
  • Certified letter explaining that if we do not receive the documents we are requesting, we will not finish the work by the statutory deadline. We also explain the consequences of not filing on time.
  • If client continually refuses to send in documents through many periods, we send a termination letter (this may not be feasible for everyone, but the time it takes to track down late files detracts from our ability to provide excellent service to our other clients)

We feel that by completing those steps, we exceed any expectation of a reasonable client.

Since we’ve gone to this system, our receipt of documents while work is in-progress dropped to virtually nothing, and our preparers are able to finish their returns in one sitting almost all the time.

What do you think? I don’t know if something like that would work in your firm. It took us a couple years of trial and error to get the system workable.

Userlevel 6
Badge +9

Something we started last year and will continue with this tax season is refusing to start work until we have all the documents we know we need. If there are any documents that we still know we need, we simply do not move the work item out of “Waiting for client info” and leave it on the admin to keep following up.

 

We are looking to implement something similar, even toying with the idea of charging a ‘restocking’ type fee.  Not only will the work be delayed with consequences but also with a charge.  The idea being that we have planned to do the work in a particular period and there is a cost to shifting the work.  Still working out the details and how to execute.

We do not centralize the collection of data - each team lead is responsible.  This is also a process we struggle with with a handful of clients.  We are also using Client Requests and picking up the phone but it’s not always immediately effective.

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

We are doing this process as well.  We don’t move the work along until we have the large majority of what we need.  But what we are running into now as we move closer to the 10/15 deadline is that if we don’t start to move some work in the queue to the next step, we will end up with a huge bottleneck for our team member who does all the scan/autoflow work for our tax returns.  

We decided to move files that are 90% complete through the process to prevent and spread the backlog.  This does mean that some information will have to be manually entered, but it will help the backlog at least and relieve pressure from our one team member.  

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

That’s an interesting experiment @kylenecarse, and I’m curious how it will turn out.

We are trying the hardline approach (we only have 10 clients who are pushing our deadline), and I’m sending them this certified letter.

[sender address block]


[recipient address block]

 

Dear [customer],

Your tax return is due October 15th. We want to prepare and file your return on time. Our team tried unsuccessfully to collect the information we needed to prepare and file your tax return on time.

If we do not receive your information by October 7th, our accountants will run out of time to prepare and file your tax return before the deadline.

Not filing your return before the deadline may result in penalties and fees charged to you by the IRS.

Would you still like us to file your tax return this year? If we do not hear from you or receive your complete information by October 7th, we assume you no longer wish to have us prepare and file your tax return.

We are eager to talk to you about this situation. Would you call the office at [firm main line]?


Sincerely,

 

[managing partner], CPA

 

I’m interested in any feedback y’all have. 😀

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

@Kamlesh - this question could probably generate multiple different responses in all sorts of directions.

Could you provide a few more details:

  • How large is your team?
  • Are the incoming files tied to specific work items in Karbon?  If yes, are you utilizing a process with the start date and statuses within the work?
  • Who receives the paper documents and how do you digitize them once received?
  • What document management system are you using to store all incoming files?
  • Are you using Karbon’s Client Requests or a different secure file transfer system?

There’s a lot of ways to successfully tackle this, but knowing more about your specific details will help us all be able to chime in with suggestions that could work for you!

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

We are looking to implement something similar, even toying with the idea of charging a ‘restocking’ type fee.  Not only will the work be delayed with consequences but also with a charge.  The idea being that we have planned to do the work in a particular period and there is a cost to shifting the work.  Still working out the details and how to execute.

The rescheduling fee sounds interesting. We have talked about possibly charging for extensions, and offering a lower fixed fee for early document submission and a higher fixed fee for later document submissions. So far, none of those options have made it to an experiment yet.

We do not centralize the collection of data - each team lead is responsible.  This is also a process we struggle with with a handful of clients.  We are also using Client Requests and picking up the phone but it’s not always immediately effective.

We have also considered moving to a team lead model, but I don’t think we have enough staff/clients. We’re essentially still one team (13 staff right now).

If I remember, I’ll let you know how the certified letter works. 😀 We’re planning to treat it as a last call and then cancel the work if we don’t get a response after multiple phone calls, emails, and a certified letter.

Thank you @kylenecarse for your comments.

I simply want to understand the process with or without Karbon or size of the team.  Understanding the ideal process to structure work flow.

 

 

@max Many thanks for your response.  

At present we do same but lots of records remain uncollected.  We also need to develop systems from receipt to wok-in-progress to finished work.

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