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By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Your valuation practice operates in a competitive business environment. In the search for an edge, some practices are going “paper-less”. What’s it like? Is it a choice for you?
We telephoned Jim Lloyd, ABV, ASA of ValuePoint Consulting Group to ask him. Jim’s first point was that there would always be paper around an office, and that it was not so much a matter of being “paper-less” as it was that there was simply a whole lot “less paper”.
Full assimilation, which took about a year, Jim recalls, began when his practice was still part of McWilliams and Co. in Knoxville. Though he remembers a fairly significant learning curve to get started, it’s second nature now. “It might be hard to learn to ride the bike,” Lloyd says. “But, once you’ve learned, it’s easy.” He took the system, Caseware, with him when he joined forces with the BV group spun off by Pershing, Yoakley, also of Knoxville. When those folks came over, Lloyd notes, they adapted in a couple days.
At its heart, the system is a highly efficient way of cataloguing and managing the stacks of documents associated with your engagements. Work papers and other documents from the client are scanned and linked into the files. Project-driven templates guide the way the information is organized for the subsequent engagement.
Some of the most immediate impact is in leverageability. Analysts can get to work quickly, Lloyd says, when they don’t have to spend time getting the material into files. He confirms that his realization is higher as a result.
Lloyd has also noticed a secondary training benefit now that Analysts see more clearly how their work contributes to the big picture of the final report. The templates they use in the process are excellent guides for how the elements of any given engagement are connected.
A paper-less system also puts an end to having to lug files to a client visit. Using the “check-out” feature, Lloyd takes everything he needs on his laptop. When he returns, he checks the file back in where it is synced-up with any changes that may have been made to another part of the report in his absence.
This same flexible, multi-user feature has made it easier for Lloyd to hand off chunks of engagements to workers outside his office, and keep better security and control over the process.
Improvements are ongoing, Lloyd says. He hasn’t seen an improvement he wanted to make and wasn’t able to. Only recently, the updated the litigation template so that it’s organized around the type of documents you typically get for a given type case. Also, boilerplate changes that may be required in multiple templates are now accomplished by a single procedure.
When the idea first came up, he thought “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. “Now,” he says, “there’s no way we could do the volume of work we’re doing without it.”