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Client Document Portal and Practice Document Management System

I tried a few different client portals and document sharing methodologies in the past. None with great satisfaction.

Now I am using Thomson Reuters Onvio Client and Documentations. Onvio is Thomson Reuters Cloud Based replacement to CS Suite in the USA and DT Practice in Canada.

I am not fully happy with Onvio. Unless it improves substantially I will switching if and when I find a better alternative which I can cost justify.

The Canadian version of Onvio is really best designed to work with Dr Tax. I am happy with TaxCycle so I am not going to switch. It has been enough of a learning curve switching from ProFile which I used from 1999 to 2017 to TaxCycle which I started in 2017 and am still learning.

The features that like with Onvio are:-
Price
OCR
Search
Folder Templates
Flexibility
Part of a full Practice Management Suite with time and billing and projects and detailed reports at a very affordable price for a sole practitioner or small to mid sized office.

The things that I don’t like with Onvio include the following:

  • horrible training and nearly non-existent documentation
  • ineffective customer support - one of the two support individuals is effective but without videos, seminars, and documentation it is an endless round of Q+A.
  • poor user interface
  • limited configuration re emails, individuals, etc.
  • no role based permissions for admin
  • clunky and totally non-intuitive set-up and configuration.
  • the dependence or assumption is that all Onvio users also have Dr Tax and that the customer number ID and customer entities mirror those used by Dr Tax.
  • no topology or workflow diagrams
  • site has hick-ups every second Thursday while the development team implements new changes on the production cloud. YIKES :frowning:
  • the client facing portal is not as intuitive or as easy to use as I would prefer
  • basically this seems like an odd SAAS implementation

CITRIX SHAREFILE
I like it but don’t fully love it.
I don’t love the price. Hard to justify as a sole practitioner. Need the full version to get the email link to the folder level sharing and the more advanced auto synch and sharing functions.
Lots of Zapier support which is great.
No intelligent naming.
No role based folder level permissions
Very limited workflow customized for Accountants. Need to buy an add-on. Even then it is not as fully functional as Doc.it.

Doc.it
I really like it.
They know, live, and breath accounting document management and workflow.
Intelligent naming.
Intelligent foldering.
Great OCR.
Assignments.
Lots more.
Crazy expensive due to requirement for a dedicated document server and more.
Working on a cloud version which may be out this fall.
Waiting to see what that looks like and will cost.

EFile Cabinet
Ok price.
Great workflow capabilities
Great foldering.
Role based folder level permissions.
No intelligent document naming.
Limited tags and search.
Issues with support of various browsers in the past.
Not a total solution.

SMART VAULT
Loved my many.
Not really a Document Management System. Limited tags.
Poor onboarding.
Poor training.
Poor support.
Good integration.
Moderate price.

LEDGER DOCS

  • Very limited.
  • Cheap but limited.

DELIVERY SLIP
Alternative to e-Courier for sending documents. Not a client portal nor a document management system. Requires a private domain email address to use. ie@ JaneDoe@JaneDoeTax.ca.

QUESTIONS

  1. Does anyone have any comments, suggestions, or best practices re using any of the above?

  2. Does anyone have any other recommendations other than e-courier?

DISCLAIMER
These are my opinions based on Trial and Paid versions and are based on my personal experiences only.

This is not intended to be an evaluation simply and anecdotal sharing with the intention to find best practices, suggestions, or recommendations by members of this community.

I want to ready, effective, and efficient in managing my Tax and Bookkeeping Practice, in communicating with clients, and in receiving, sending, and sharing documents.

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Try clienttrack portal. We use it for file sharing etc.

Atul Shah

ATUL SHAH INC.

Phone: 604 569-SHAH (7424)

Fax : 604-569-0146

288 West 8th Avenue

Vancouver BC V5Y 1N5

www.smartax.ca

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I have used DT Portal - Works well with DT Max, but is a meegh for portal. No OCR.

Following that, I went with EfileCabinet Online and continue to use that as my main document management software. Very powerful, but the client portal is not appropriate for Canada. As of this March, I had to discontinue and move to ShareFile.

Citrix ShareFile integrates nicely with my client service management software, also by Citrix, called Podio. But for the back end, I still use EfileCabinet Online.

And, yes, I use Doxcycle. Think of it as:

  • DoxCycle is the active working file,
  • EfileCabinet Online is the practice archival system, including the documents which are my working papers, while
  • ShareFile is the client presentation portal. Multi-lingual and hosted in Canada, and finally,
  • Podio tracks the work that needs to be done, integrating email, SMS and phone service together.

I use e-courier as the client document portal.

I use Doxcycle extensively as part of my document management system. All the documents relevant to an engagement will be stored in the Doxcycle file for the year.

For T1’s that means all the source documents the client provides, unless, in case of self employed or employment expenses, those are summarized in a spreadsheet or other bookkeeping file, then a summary is put in Doxcycle. That also means any adjustments, CRA reviews and appeals are tracked in the Doxcycle file for the year.

For T2’s that means that the working paper file is part of the T2 file, as well as any GST work done during the year.

For T4’s that means that also the payroll done during the year is accumulated in the T4 Doxcycle file…

You get the idea…

For practice management I use Vohcom. However, I believe with a few tweeks to the Taxcycle Client Explorer, that could be a very effective practice management system.

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@BertMulderCGA

I appreciate that you took the time to share your apps stack and usage.

Vohcom is new to me. I will check it out. http://vohcom.com/accountants/

@TimParris

Thank you for taking the time to share your architecture in detail. I have a couple of questions.

EFILE CABINET ONLINE
Which level or version of EfileCabinet Online do you use:-

Basic - storage
Advantage - integration, compliance, etc
Business - zonal OCR, templates, workflow
https://www.efilecabinet.com/pricing/

CITRIX SHAREFILE ACCOUNTANT
Which level or version of Citrix ShareFile do you use:-

Standard - storage
Advanced - integration, synch, branding, encrypted emails
Premium - custom workflows, esignatures

CITRIX PODIO
Which level or version of Podio do you use:-

Free - tasks, apps, workspace
Basic - manage users
Plus - roles, workflow automation
Premium - reports

@atul
Thank you for sharing your recommendation re Client Track. I tried them several years ago. I had the very worst tech and apps support experience of my lifetime. The software download failed to install. Tech support refused to assist in getting it to install. Refund never issued. Paid in full but never refunded nor supported. A sad, frustrating, and sorry experience.

EfileCabinet Online - I am grandfathered in Professional, which is no longer available. But I am also using an older version of the software. Will probably have the price raised next year to match Business, as that includes OCR, which is very necessary.

Note that the app does not work in Canada, so discount the portal as well.

ShareFile - I use Standard and will probably be adding a second account. Frankly, the cost is minimal. However, if you are using Sharefile as document storage, I will point that you will probably want to be at least at the Advanced level.

Podio - I use Premium, BUT BUT BUT, I also have add-ins. SmrtPhone (integrating telephone with Podio), GlobiMail (upgraded email functionality, BUT I am seriously looking at SwiftMail), Momentum (Web Forms Management) and ProcFu (Advance automation services.) My Podio is also integrated to a variety of other services such as RightSignature, GoToMeeting, etc…

Given all the discussion about portals, I am interested in knowing more about the “why” from those of you who use this. Is the purpose to give clients access to their documents without having to call the office? I haven’t seen the need for this but perhaps I’m just not educated enough on the benefits. Thanks.

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UPDATE re ONVIO

With the help of Tech Support, I finally got THOMPSON REUTERS’ ONVIO CLIENT AND ONVIO DOCUMENT modules working.

One big requirement is to structure the Client, Contact, and Folder schema and structures effectively.

Easy to understand ID naming is critical.

They seem to be using keys to link client entities rather than simpler linking in the background using template linking or default linking. This seems to be similar to how we had to add new client chart of accounts and then create them again to link the Field Names with the Data Names in using Simply Accounting in the 2000’s and 2010’s before it became Sage50. Once it became Sage50 the software came with default Charts of Account so I did not go through the arduous naming and naming again and linking process.

Permissions and sharing is on a folder basis.

Client Access to documents requires registration and acceptance. The shared document link won’t work otherwise.

More to learn. At least I got the foldering, permissions, and sharing working.

My experience with my clientele has been, that while each time we finish an engagement we sent them all the copies required via e-courier, still, whenever they need a copy of their returns or financials, they will call us rather than just retrieving it from e-courier (which they do know how to use).

My conclusion: clients like having their hand held.

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Thanks Bert. That kind of confirms what I think about most of my clients (with apologies to them). At their end, it would take less time to call me to send it to them than to remember how to login to my portal and get it themselves. I’d be the same if I were them. I’m assuming there must be other reasons to have a portal, though. Any marketing advantages?

@kevin

WHY…

Client Portal
Easy, secure, scalable, and cloud document sharing. Scales much better than an email send such as eCourier. Essentially the client receives a free cloud based document management system for the tax returns and tax documents.

Firm Document Management System (DMS) - Cloud or Server
Move all firm, client, and working paper documents to the cloud or to an in-house or hosted server. Anywhere, anytime, from any device access. Very scalable. Features vary widely.

Best is class include the following features….
Great OCR
Extensive document Tags
Many easy ways to load document
Great search and report
Role based permissions
Folder Templates
Intelligent document naming

The advanced DMS systems also include…
Advanced workflow capabilities
Great security
Many compliance report
Great integration with Tax Applications and Practice Management Applications
Some also support workflow automation
Some also support client notes and messaging

The point of all of this includes the following…

  • Increase completeness by storing all documents in one location.
  • Streamline client communication for missing documents
  • Increase visibility of document status and document details for all who work or access client files.
  • Save time and increasing security in sharing and sending/receiving documents.
  • Assist in workflow completeness and speed with Workflow Automation tied to Client Engagements, Documents, Project Status, and Time/Billing.
  • Save time for tax review and tax audit defense
  • Evergreen your client files
  • Assist in scaling your firm
  • Assist data and app migration during computer upgrades.
  • Take procedures out of your head and put it into systems.
  • Give clients self serve options 7/24

Thank you to all who contributed :smile:

Email is simply not secure. For example, if a client who is located within my city attempts to email a file to me, that file will go via Toronto, New York, then Montreal, then California, then back to our city.

As a professional, I am required to ensuring that my client’s records are protected. If I email, I am breaching their privacy.

When a bank employee requests that I email the files to them, I ask them if they would be willing to email me a copy of their tax slips or bank statement. I have yet to get any bank employee willing to email me client records and accordingly, I will not use the same method that they refuse to use.

My clients are aware of my opinion of this and know that they will not get me to email their records ever. Their choice is to access the files through the portal or I will post them or they can pick them up.

@TimParris

Wise business practice.

My privacy policy is that I do not send any confidential information over open email. Thus anything confidential that is emailed goes via e-courier. Strangely enough, the most resistance to that has been from banks, who often have it blocked…

One of my clients’ reaction to a banker being stupid:

"Nothing has changed with the process of us sending you our margining. It would be appreciated after 15 years of business that you would work with us, rather than threatening to take our line of credit away.

We have many cheque’s leaving our account regularly and require that line of credit to maintain our integrity of always paying our bills.

Could you please work with Bert on this situation? We have been doing business with XXXXX since 2004 and have never had any issues.

I would hate to have to be in a position to have to find a new bank to work with."

Couldn’t agree more Bert.

We use the Evil Empire’s software and have iFirm as our secure document receipt and delivery portal.

Our biggest problems are 99% from investment houses, banks and lawyers who refuse to activate their iFirm delivery portal and still ask our clients to email the documents, which of course we refuse 100% of the time.

We have had client change banks and investment advisors because of this. We have not, to our knowledge, ever lost a client because we refused to expose their private information in an email.

Many Thanks,

Norman Adams

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6733 Rideau Valley Drive South, Kars, ON K0A 2E0
Phone: (613) 489-3583 x227 | Toll Free/Fax: 1-888- 877-2505

NOTE: If you are not the intended recipient of
this e-mail, please delete it immediately. Unauthorized transmission of this e-mail is prohibited

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This is the trailer on my email:

Click here to securely send me a file. Do not send private information via open email.

BERT MULDER CPA CGA

Clients use this function quite a bit. They like it as they do not have to log in to anything to send private info…

To deal with banks, investment firms, mortgage brokers, and others I use “MyFax.com” since 2007. Included in my $10/mth subscription is my unique Fax Number. This gives me all the benefits of a FaxServer with non of the headaches.

https://www.myfax.com/

MyFax is headquartered in Winnipeg. In the 12 years in which I have used this service the only issues which I have encountered is with CRA-WinnipegTaxCentre which blocked all FaxServer sends to their published fax# sometime about 5 years ago.

I believe that Ring Central has an VOIP offer which includes FaxServer as well.

I love it. For those times when I must send or receive a fax this has been a God Sent easy peasy solution.

I register an email account with MyFAX.

SEND
Attach document to be faxed via PDF. Email to the recipient’s Fax#. Receive a confirmation receipt and fax send and receive reports. Auto redial settings included.

RECEIVE
Receive fax in email inbox as confirmation receipt in email message body with preview. Fax document attached.