Beeson Chartered Accountants digitalises manual processes and facilitates working from home with M-Files
solved our issues around manual workflows, the potential to lose documents, and
the inefficiencies of working with paper-based files. Now that more of our processes are digitalised, Beeson can work
more efficiently and deliver superior client service."
- Matthew Salmon, Managing Director
- Matthew Salmon, Managing Director
Beeson Accountants is a progressive chartered accountant’s practice with a business development focus, based in Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand. Beeson provides accounting and business development services to small and medium-sized organisations including national organisations, sole operators, and small family run businesses. The firm offers business development and coaching, management and financial reporting, and tax compliance.
As HR professionals, we play an integral role in the employee journey from recruitment onwards, but sometimes it feels as if our work knows no bounds. We can have the best intentions and checklists that cover everything we need to complete, but once the work leaves our desks and falls into the hands of others, the wheels of the project can fall off. We understand that people can get side-tracked by other business-critical tasks, but we don’t always have the time to chase.
As a suburban accounting firm with a lean team, Beeson needed to reduce the amount of time spent trying to locate documents and manage workflows. The practice had used manual, paper-based systems for many years and needed to modernise to streamline these processes, to save time and deliver a better client experience.
Given the nature of the financial information that Beeson works with, maintaining information security was also a key concern.
Matthew Salmon, managing director, Beeson, said, “Working on paper-based files was cumbersome and inefficient. The nature of the work Beeson does require peer review processes and several approvals, which means that work is often sent back and forth among the accounting team until it’s finalised. This previously meant a physical file and physical checklist would move from desk to desk as the job progressed through these workflows.”
This process led to the potential for documents to go missing. There were issues around accurately filing documents and being able to retrieve them when needed. Given the highly regulated nature of accounting, Beeson couldn’t afford to have errors in its document retention and access processes. Any errors could mean the firm would need to compensate a client or pay a penalty, so excellent processes and controls were essential.
Beeson had been searching for a document management system for four or five years . “We could not find a suitable solution. APS, MYOB, CCH and Microsoft Sharepoint had offers that had fishhooks or that didn’t meet our criteria.” After investigating solutions developed specifically for accounting firms as well as other options, Beeson chose M-Files.
Matthew Salmon said, “We were looking for a solution that would suit our business in the short term and let us grow over time. Other solutions we considered were too complex, required external experts to manage them, or had significant security holes that were simply untenable. Beeson needed a solution that could be housed on-premises and be managed by our own team rather than having to pay high rates for an external expert.”
With privacy law changes in New Zealand, there was more onus on Beeson to protect client data and disclose if a data breach occurred. This created further impetus to implement a document management solution that would deliver additional security, permission-based access, and deliver a strong backup option in case of disaster.
M-Files fit the bill and Beeson went live with M-Files in February 2020, through delivery partner, Sharp New Zealand, just ahead of the coronavirus lockdown in New Zealand that necessitated all staff move to work from home.
Matthew Salmon said, “The previous, paper-based processes would have made it impossible for staff members to work from home effectively during the lockdown. By digitalising our processes and documents, Beeson was able to switch to working from home. This meant we could focus on helping our clients navigate this difficult period, rather than spend our time trying to figure out how to keep working without being in the office.”
Working with Sharp New Zealand, Beeson implemented M-Files in stages to manage the effect of the change on staff members. Starting with document management and then automatic file naming conventions, Beeson’s key challenge of not being able to find documents when they were needed was solved.
By adding a code that adds a barcode to documentation, Beeson can more easily manage hardcopy documents such as those that require a physical, ‘wet’ signature. When these hardcopy documents are scanned in, M-Files recognises the barcode and automatically files the document in the right location. The team also created a process to automatically save and name other templated PDF documents into M-Files, saving even more time.
Since implementing M-Files, Beeson has been able to effectively work remotely without compromising on the quality of the service it provides to clients.
Matthew Salmon said, “When the lockdown hit, there were still some manual processes and the lockdown forced us to accelerate the streamlining of those workflows and processes. If we hadn’t had M-Files and the remote desktop server set up, it just wouldn’t have worked. While we weren’t planning for a pandemic, M-Files made it possible to continue working.”
Beeson continued from the lessons learned during lockdown, constantly making small adjustments and refinements, improving workflows, and putting checklists into M-Files as non-document objects.
well as being able to work remotely, staff members can now more easily review
documents and share information because no more time is spent hunting for
documents; M-Files associates all documents to the appropriate work file so
that staff members can see and access them immediately.
Matthew Salmon said, “Sharp New Zealand set up permissions in M-Files to ensure only authorised people could access documents. This was important in helping Beeson to comply with privacy and security concerns. We have a small private cloud that lets us avoid the potential issues that could come with a public cloud-based solution. Being able to lock M-Files down is a key benefit of the solution.”
Beeson staff members can now find documents easily when they’re on the phone with clients or dealing with matters.
Matthew Salmon said, “M-Files solved our issues around manual workflows, the potential to lose documents, and the inefficiencies of working with paper-based files. As we have used M-Files we have come to better understand its functionality and have overtime moved more processes onto digital checklists.”
“M-Files views replicated what we were used to seeing on our shared drive but, with the naming convention in place and the information categorised according to what it is rather than where it’s stored, we could use shortcuts to search for documents and access them immediately rather than going the long way around.
“A key benefit of M-Files was the ability for our staff members to manage the solution ourselves, which wasn’t possible with other document management solutions. This makes Beeson more self-sufficient. The additional support we received from Sharp New Zealand was also very helpful and made the process a lot smoother.”
The Bottom Line
- Increased access to documents for more efficient working and better client service
- Improved security and governance of information in line with legislation
- Delivered a modern, powerful automated solution
“When the lockdown hit, there were still some manual processes and the lockdown forced us to accelerate the streamlining of those workflows and processes. If we hadn’t had M-Files and the remote desktop server set up, it just wouldn’t have worked. While we weren’t planning for a pandemic, M-Files made it possible to continue working.”
To find out more about M-Files or to book an obligation free consultation and demo, check out our M-Files website.
M-Files provides a next-generation intelligent information management platform that improves business performance by helping people find and use information more effectively. Unlike traditional enterprise content management (ECM) systems or content services platforms, M-Files unifies systems, data and content across the organisation without disturbing existing systems and processes or requiring data migration.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in its unique Intelligent Metadata Layer, M-Files breaks down silos by delivering an in-context experience for accessing and leveraging information that resides in any system and repository, including network folders, SharePoint, file sharing services, ECM systems, CRM, ERP and other business systems and repositories. Thousands of organisations in more than 100 countries use M-Files for managing their business information and processes, including NBC Universal, OMV, Rovio, SAS Institute and thyssenkrupp.
Seamus O'Dare is Sharp's Marketing Coordinator. Originally from Northern Ireland, he has enjoyed travelling the world and developing a passion for digital marketing and content creation.