An Efficient Business Office… At Tax Time? Really?

By Ken Carlsen

Can you calculate the time and related cost with searching for and producing information especially during the tax season? It’s not easy, but we all understand the frustration, time and expense.

Find, copy, print, fax, scan, email, repeat…. Sound familiar?

In 2010, the Town of Secretary, Maryland (established in 1661 and incorporated in 1900) with an office staff of one, started scanning “everything” to the cloud. The fundamental reasons were to improve the Public Information Request search process, reduce storage and increase security. Almost 100,000 scans later, this small town can find volumes of information in seconds… even from a SmartPhone.

They are so efficient; they provided remote document access to the audit team. The majority of what they needed was found on-line freeing up several days of searching for paper.


While most people believe the notion of “paperless” is daunting, it’s not when given some objective help. First, look at the areas of the most need. During tax time it’s financial documents, during litigation it’s legal and maybe for the rest of the time it’s general information about the organizations business. Secondly, realize that every page will most likely tell you where it goes. So for example key in on dates, department, type and maybe whom it’s from. The next part is to find either a software or “cloud” which can be set up based on these keys or index values. To determine which technology is best evaluate the current and future volume of scans, access requirements and control of the system. Evaluate total cost for the short and long-term. If going to a server, include all the maintenance and replacement cost in addition to remote access software. A number of “free” services are on-line making sure you read the fine print. Other services are extremely inexpensive; there’s a reason, so shopthe entire range it’s a real eye-opener.

Making this stick….

When a solution has been selected, take some time to document the process. Recently, the Town of Queenstown passed Resolution 13-101 earlier this year defining the records management program. For a small business, a procedural document can explain the process and where things will be put. It is also helpful to solidify a retention schedule and destruction process.

Technology today can create an efficient business office with infinite search capabilities from anywhere at any time leading to better decisions. Take a few minutes to review your business office, look at your paper storage, paper files and on the PDF files on the computer. Then ask yourself…. Is there a better way? Yes…..

Ken Carlsen is the President of ShoreScan Solutions based in Stevensville, Md. ShoreScan specializes in secure off-site document storage services, equipment and consulting. Website: