Some clients like to have regular conversations with their accountant. Some just want to see their accountant once a year…to give them a box full of receipts and paperwork!
One of the powerful accounting concepts is Prepared By Client or Provided By Client (PBC), which refers to client collaboration and communication within accounting firms.
The rapid growth of technology over the past decade has changed expectations. Accounting firms are now expected to leverage tech tools to make the client collaboration journey easy and efficient, as well as reduce the whirlwind of administrative work on professional accounting staff.
Caseware International built its PBC functionality out of the conviction that how you communicate is just as important as what you communicate.
Caseware’s PBC Requests functionality has redefined client collaboration, taking collaborative accounting to its full potential. But before we dive into specifics, let’s take a look at some Caseware history. What triggered the PBC concept?
Some 30 years ago …
Looking back at how Caseware International has come so far, well, some 30 years ago, we started with a desktop application. Then we moved to connecting a few computers, then full-blown networks, and now cloud technology.
Each move through the technology continuum has been necessary to progress accounting firms forward. And, in regards to the advance of the collaborative accounting movement, the shift to cloud-based applications has been a game changer.
“The PBC concept evolved when trying to optimize a high-volume low-cost specialized compulsory audit product, where engagements take only two to four hours long and auditors needed all client information and data on the outset. They can’t even start the engagement without everything being there – verified and finalized,” says Tom Cassiotis, development manager for cloud solutions at Caseware.
The building blocks for the PBC Requests functionality are smart documents, called Queries. A Query document is a request list that can be instantly sent to client contacts and track progress as they respond to requests.
“Even back then, it was never just a requirement that we received. We saw the value and potential. It comes as no surprise to me now how far a simple collaborative document, we called Query has gone. And that fact that our distributors build products based on it. At the end of the day, it’s all about helping the client!”, adds Cassitotis.
To unravel what Cassiotis means in his statement, here is a breakdown of the PBC Requests feature set and value proposition.
There are various points of information that accountants or auditors need from the client and, invariably, it is a long laundry list of items.
When setting up Queries, accountants can easily group the information and present it in an organized fashion. This improves the visibility and discoverability of the information for staff members and clients as work through the PBC request list.
The ability to work in real time elevates the client experience to new levels of convenience. This is where technology leaders truly differentiate themselves. The Comments section available in each item in a PBC Requests list takes client collaboration to the next level. It is basically an instant messaging utility that provides a notification each time you receive a new message.
Client activity tracking
Traditionally, accountants would share a huge amount of information via email or through an FTP site or a portal (such as Dropbox or Huddle). One of the pain points with these methods is detachment. There is no way to track clients’ activity because you can’t actually see whether or not they’ve read them or if they’ve taken necessary actions.
Stemming from her vast experience within various accounting firms, Caseware Industry Strategist Sarah Coulson provides insight on why tracking is crucial in client collaboration, “With FTP or file sharing sites, you can’t see the clients progress on information requests. Clients often don’t provide all the requested information in the first round, typically they miss some items. To figure out which items are missing, my team had to manually go through the document request list and check what the clients have provided. And, we’re not talking about 5 to 10 information requests, this could get to 25 or 40 or even more items”.
PBC Requests functionality provides instant notifications to staff members and clients throughout the interaction, specifically when the following actions take place.
- Staff members send request lists to clients.
- Staff members or clients add comments.
- Clients respond to request list items.
- Staff members reopen specific items in a request list (e.g. if more information or elaboration is required).
Staff members can set up the PBC Request list to save client-uploaded documents saved in a designated location in the engagement. They can define where the tax forms sit, where the invoices sit, where the trial balance sits, etc. This eliminates the manual labour of sorting and organizing received documents.
The PBC Requests dashboard presents a 360-degree view of all the request lists available.
- Current status of each request list. Whether it’s sent, responded, reopened, completed or still in the draft phase.
- Client contacts that you’ve sent each list to.
- Target due date for each request list.
- Number of closed items per request list. That is, items that clients have responded to and the response is accepted by staff.
Secure collaboration and file sharing
PBC Requests ensure that clients’ information and data lives in one central location that’s always available to all team members assigned to the client, no matter where you or your client are.
Guarded by Caseware Cloud security, client data is far more secure and the risk of theft or damage is significantly reduced. This establishes a strong client relationship, founded on trust and credibility.
Unified user experience
In PBC Requests, you fully collaborate with clients and keep track of progress all without leaving the Caseware Cloud UI. There is no need to sign in to a different portal or go to your email inbox or request a colleague to forward some files because the client didn’t copy you in the email, etc.
Reduced operational cost
PBC Requests brings in a pure cloud-based collaborative accounting approach, where no additional infrastructure needs to be acquired – driving the cost of the accounting operation down.
Accountants can confirm that the amount of administrative work related to client information as requests can get massive! The pandemonium of follow up, tracking, review, back and forth, etc. is energy-sapping. It’s also highly disruptive.
Caseware’s PBC functionality enables firms to serve clients with speed and efficiency, offering an immediate response to questions and exchange of data and documents. When administrative tasks are completed sooner, auditors or accountants can spend more time on elements of their remit.
Dig deeper into functionality. Visit the Product Information pages.
Build your own PBC!
Can you build a system that supports true collaboration? Yes.
Caseware PBC Requests is fully customizable. You can build your own client collaboration tool tailored to your clientele, market or region requirements.
Interested? Contact your local Caseware distributor.