Steve Nelson: ShareFile CPA firm portal saves a week during tax season

Many thanks to CPA and author Stephen Nelson for sharing his ShareFile story with us. Read below to learn how Citrix ShareFile helps Stephen’s team save money, time and stress during tax season.

I’m going to be honest with you. Providing a portal to our clients was something we needed to do. Our most sophisticated clients were asking for a portal. And we wanted the top-shelf security a portal would provide.

But here’s the thing: We’d experimented with other vendors’ portal solutions—and those experiences hadn’t worked all that well. Even for some of our most tech-savvy clients.

What’s more, we anticipated a big burden for the staff that would support use of the portal.

So we dragged our feet a bit. And then we dragged our feet some more.

Finally last year, though, we began using ShareFile. And no kidding, we’re now kicking ourselves for not getting with the program earlier.

The ShareFile portal has provided both our firm and our clients with sizable benefits.

Digital Delivery Saves Money

As you might expect, for example, we’re saving money on postage and packaging by digitally delivering organizers and returns to clients.

But you know what? We’ve been surprised about how big an impact digital delivery has had on costs.

We offered clients the option of either getting their organizers as paper documents via the mail, for example, or as digital documents via  a secure ShareFile link.

More than 90% of respondents said (basically), “Are you kidding me? Let me download a digital organizer!”

Faster Start to Tax Season

And then the biggest benefit we’ve noticed? ShareFile lets us start tax season earlier.

The big chunk of our clients who downloaded their organizers then turned their stuff in earlier.

And clients who, in the past, mailed us a flash drive or CD with files used ShareFile to upload those items in seconds.

No kidding, we started many returns a week or more early. And though starting a week early may sound like small change, a corporate tax shop like ours packs a huge stack of work into a six-week window.

In effect, ShareFile gave us an extra week during our busiest time of the year! Outstanding.

A Simpler Interface

And one final comment… Some vendors’ portal solutions present a steep learning curve to users.

But you should know that we and our clients found ShareFile very easy to use.

Setting up the portal on our end required, oh gosh, maybe an hour? Something like that. (By the way, that includes putting the portal sign-on stuff on our firm website.)

And then the training… Though Lauren, our nice ShareFile account manager, has kindly offered us training on the product, ShareFile is so intuitive and well-designed that neither firm employees nor firm clients have any trouble.

Stephen L. Nelson is the managing member of the Seattle CPA firm, Stephen L. Nelson, CPA PLLC. The author of the million-copy bestsellers Quicken for Dummies and QuickBooks for Dummies, he also edits the Evergreen Small Business blog.