The bookkeeping and accounting world sure has evolved in the last few decades towards a smart financial document management system. I want to take a step into into the document management systems of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yesterday is to look at what was a reality for document management a few years ago with lever-arch binders to keep the stacks of paper. Today, smart document management is to use a cloud solution like Google Drive or Dropbox to store your documentation. And tomorrow, I’ll look at how DOKKA is creating the first smart financial document management system.
I’m not going to focus on blockchain, as that is a discussion in itself. If blockchain over the next decade or two gets it right, it could turn all paper obsolete, and allow all document management systems, not just the financial document management systems, to be almost automated and digital. (There will be always a few people that prefer to write on paper and digitize afterwards, but if blockchain becomes a standard, then paper to digital will become a distant exception).
Remembering financial document management yesterday
I was a bookkeeper in a previous life. I was the management accountant, and I had a team of 6 people that were responsible for the day to day financial admin. The location was a factory with some very old school equipment.
When I took the position, I had been interviewed a couple of times in the CEO’s office, which was far from glamorous, but was neat and tidy.
When I walked into the office on day 1, and was introduced to my office and desk, there was a computer sitting on my desk. It looked relatively calm.
And then the storm was unleashed on me.
I was shown the filing room, where all the paperwork was kept. There were about 1000 lever arch files. Each file was jam packed with invoices that the company had printed for customers. But most of the paperwork wasn’t sequential. So there was document 348383, then 348391, then 348385 etc. It was impossible to find a document, as they hadn’t been sorted.
I wasn’t sure how I would ever find a document I needed, and it was essential to find the right documents, as one of my first responsibilities was to sort out the massive hill of bad debts, and the only proof that other companies owed us money other than in the bad debt register per company was this paperwork in these lever arch files in this filing room.
Then I was taken to another room, and I had a second panic attack! This was the room where the unfiled paperwork was kept. A mountain of paper invoices that hadn’t yet been filed.
For months, my team and I sorted paper invoices, until everyone of the hundreds of thousands of sales invoices was sequentially filed in the lever arch files, and the filing room was neat and tidy.
Sure. Not every bookkeeping and accounting company in the past had such a chaotic filing cabinet. But paper invoices created problems. Both the time and effort required to keep the filing room, the lever arch files, and the paper invoices and documentation neat and tidy. And also the space required for this financial document management system.
paper invoices created problems.
Changing the world with a Cloud Document Management system
When the cloud emerged, document management for personal use and businesses went through considerable innovation.
Not specifically smart financial document management systems for bookkeepers and accountants, but generally for all individuals and businesses.
These days, most of us keep our documentation on a cloud document management system like google drive or dropbox. (and for businesses there are specific document management solutions available).
These document managements systems in the cloud are being constantly innovated upon. New features. New ways of collecting the electronic documentation. New ways of converting paper documentation into digital documentation using easier ways to snap documents on mobile phone apps and fetching documentation from websites, and scanning documents using easier scanning solutions, and quicker ways of emailing documents into the cloud document management systems.
Problems with cloud document management solutions for bookkeepers and accountants
It’s still cumbersome and difficult to remember to convert all the paper documentation into digital documentation. Especially when the paper documentation is a little old and the paper starts going yellow.
Also finding the documents later on becomes problematic and difficult. With a typical electronic cloud document management system, you create folders, and then put the electronic files in these folders based on a file name, which you can then search later. But what if you put the file in the wrong folder. Or what often happens is that you create two different folders and then put the same type of file into both of these folders. It’s then very difficult to find the file you want later on.
Smart financial document management system of the future
There are many different start-up’s trying to develop a smart document management system which will resolve these and other folder / file issues addressed above. Issues with the current document management systems.
But DOKKA has taken this one step further. As DOKKA is focused on financial documentation for bookkeeping and accounting companies, we have created a smart document management system focused on financial documentation.
So although there are many companies trying to build smart document management systems, below I’ll give you an overview of what DOKKA has built with its financial document management system focused on financial documents.
Types of document collection
Just like most other document collection systems, both the current cloud providers providing document management systems, and other companies building smart future document management systems, DOKKA provides a number of ways of collecting documentation. These include:
- Forwarding documents to a customized email address
- Uploading documents from a computer
- Taking pictures of documents, typically expense documents, using the mobile apps that DOKKA has developed and that can be downloaded from the Apple or Android app stores
- Scanning documentation
Document Scanning Technology
DOKKA has innovated further with the document scanning solution we provide. When you scan multiple pages by connecting your scanner to the DOKKA platform, DOKKA displays all the scanned pages back to you. If each scanned page is a single page, you can then simply click the “scan accept” button and DOKKA will process each scanned page individually.
But what if you have specific documents that are multi-page. Here’s an example:
Lets assume you upload 50 pages using the DOKKA scanning technology. But pages 4 and 5 are actually one document, and pages 23, 24 and 25 are also one document. With DOKKA, splitting scanned documents into the right documents is a piece of cake! Simply click between the documents that you want to be multi-page scanned documents, and DOKKA will connect them for you.
Document Management for Accountants
Once the documents are in the DOKKA platform, the smart document management system really starts to shine. The DOKKA team analyzed the process bookkeepers and accountants went through when they received financial documentation from their clients.
And DOKKA realized that although the document management process for a lot of these accountants and bookkeepers was still old school relying on part cloud document management and part old school process, the process worked.
Bookkeepers and accountants have spent decades perfecting the systems they use for document management, so why re-invent the wheel.
Instead, DOKKA has created a smart financial document management system based on the lever arch / paper based system that I described in the “smart financial document management of yesterday” section above. Everything has been digitized, but the process that works for bookkeepers and accountants still remains.
Here’s a few of the processes that DOKKA has created to both fix the problems of traditional cloud document management systems, and also to keep the process of the document management systems of yesterday.
- Folders don’t need to be created – when documents come into DOKKA, without any rules, DOKKA knows whether the documents are financial and should be placed into the financial documents folder, or whether they are non-financial, in which case the documents are placed in the general folder.
- Find your Document easily – This has been created in the same way that Google reads every word on every web page, so that they can index the websites, and you can find what you need later on easily. DOKKA reads every word and number on every document, both financial and non-financial so you can find exactly what you need instantly.
- Document folders – the smart document management system DOKKA has created uses a flat document management system. This means that there are no folders. All documents are in one large document folder, and you find everything you need by doing smart document searches. But some people like folders, and some people have specific use cases for them.
- So DOKKA has created smart document folders. Search for words, tags, or other types of searches, and your chosen documents come up. Then add a date range onto this document search. And then save the folder as a smart virtual folder. So you can create virtual smart folders, where groups of your documents can be found. The beauty of this is that you can have one file or document in multiple folders, as they aren’t hierarchical. The smart virtual document management folder system in DOKKA is flat.
Example of how the DOKKA smart virtual folders work
Search for companyX. Do another search for “yellow”, and you’ll now be shown all documents with the word companyX in it, and which has the word yellow. Now add a date range, say only for 2019, and all documents with these 3 attributes will be displayed.
Click the virtual folder button, and create a virtual folder immediately. From now, you have a virtual document folder for all searches for companyX, with the word “yellow” on the documents, in the year 2019.
Here are two other document management features that DOKKA has created, which come directly from the document management paper systems of yesterday.
- Virtual stapling of documentation – A function that bookkeepers and accountants both mentioned repeatedly is how certain documents which are paper based need to be stapled together, so the bookkeeper or accountant can file them together. It could be a statement with the corresponding invoices. It could be a credit card statement with the supporting documentation. It could be a number of letters from the bank dealing with a specific issue.
- So we built a virtual stapler in our smart financial document management system. Drag the documents into the “virtual stapler” and they’ll be linked virtually together. Better still, if you give a name to your “virtual staple pack” you can search for this name, the same way you search for any other word or tag on the documents. And this virtual stapling functionality works for paper documents that have been digitized, and for digital documents.
- Virtual sticky notes – love taking bright pieces of paper, sticking them on pieces of paper, and writing notes about the documents. You’re not the only one! So we created a virtual sticky note system for our smart financial document management system. Click any document, and you can add a sticky note to it.
- Just like the “virtual stapling of documents” this works for both paper documents that have been digitized as well as digital documentation. Your sticky notes will appear on the document. Want to edit the sticky note, or perhaps delete it? No problem – both these features are available with the virtual sticky notes in DOKKA.
That’s a quick overview of some of the features that DOKKA has built to create the smart financial document management system of tomorrow specifically for bookkeepers and accountants. There are many other features that we’ve also built to make document management easy for businesses, bookkeepers and accountants, but I’ll leave some of these additional features for a future article.
Document management of yesterday, today and tomorrow
If you think about how document management has evolved from paper and folders, through to cloud document management systems, to flat non-hierarchial document management systems, you’ll be amazed at how far technology in the document management space has come in a short space of time.
And even more so when you think about how DOKKA has designed a smart financial document management system specifically to help bookkeepers and accountants.
But innovation and technology don’t stop. Not in document management. Not in any industry. So if there are any document management features that you’d like DOKKA to consider adding to make their document management system even smarter, then please get in touch.
As I’m finishing this article, I’m thinking back to the filing room I mentioned near the beginning of the article, and remembering the weeks of work it took to sort the paper documentation. Thanks to innovation and technology in general, and DOKKA specifically, hopefully bookkeepers and accountants in the future won’t have to have that problem to content with.