Having the right tools for your employees to work from home and stay productive has quickly gone from a luxury to a business necessity in the wake of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
If you have been fortunate enough not to have your business affected yet, then you are in the minority worldwide and should count yourself lucky. Are you ready for your entire staff to work remotely for weeks or months on end, if it comes to that?
Powerful, efficient, easy-to-use telecommuting infrastructure powered by cloud computing has never been more essential to business continuity. Some of the world’s largest companies, such as Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google, have told all of their employees to work remotely until after the spread decreases.
The impact the coronavirus will have on your firm is new, profound, and can be taken as an opportunity to assess your company’s readiness for unexpected disasters, natural events, cyberattacks or a global public health crisis.
Moving your staff remote and online meetings with clients
The coronavirus and its impacts are here, and there has been a paradigm shift for many small businesses that were conducting business as usual.
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses were forced to move to total remote work, which saw a spike in the use of virtual meeting software and team collaboration tools. It is too late to migrate to the Cloud now, but you still need immediate business tools to help your team be safe at home while remaining productive and collaborative.
We put together a list of the more commonly used telecommunication applications:
These applications are in no particular order; they each have unique features depending on your requirements. For in-office communication, Slack is a handy tool with integrations to many other commonly used applications. For client meetings, Zoom is very widely used as the interface is very straightforward and does not require any technical know-how to set up a meeting.
Setting up an online portal
With privacy regulations getting tighter and requiring additional administrative processes to utilize email, firms are looking for secure and easy-to-use solutions to transfer files to and from clients, which points towards using client portal solutions.
A client portal is a secure file directory that can be accessed via the Internet so that files can be viewed or transferred between the firm and the client. These portals can be used in a variety of ways, such as publishing a tax return to the portal and sending the client a secure link via email, which they can then access after putting in their password. The portal can also be set up to accept large files from the client, such as Quickbooks files that may be too large for their email system to handle.
When evaluating solutions, it is imperative to narrow them down based on ease of use and administration rather than just focusing on cost. We’ve put together a list of features you should focus on during a demonstration before making a selection.
Ease of setup: What does it take to set up a new client in the portal? Can administrative personnel do it, or does it require technical knowledge? Small firms are often short-staffed from an IT perspective; a delay in setting up the portal could adversely impact client services.
Ease of publishing documents: What are the steps to publish a document in the portal? The more steps there are to publishing a document and ensuring it has the correct settings, the longer the learning curve, meaning more confusion and training.
Ease of client access: What steps does the client have to go through to access the portal? Most firms link their portal with their website to allow clients to log in from the site with their email address and password. How does the portal allow for clients with multiple business entities or employees that may need access to part of their information?
Ease of client use: What are the steps for a client to download or upload files to the portal? The portal solution should be intuitive and straightforward, or your staff could spend an undue amount of time walking clients through the portal.
Notifications: Does the portal notify the client and the firm representative for that client when a file has been accessed, uploaded or downloaded to keep everyone informed?
Audit trail and security: Does the portal monitor activity? Many of today’s portals monitor who places and accesses documents, helping firms comply with their confidentiality and document retention policies.
Cost: What does it cost to set up, maintain and add more clients? Be wary of the cost per client and the space allocated for each, as well as any overages if this space is exceeded. Poor maintenance of large Quickbooks files can make certain portal options cost-prohibitive for some firms.
We are not affiliated with any of these companies.
These are the most common portals we’ve found our clients used over the years:
Adobe Scan - great for use with Adobe Acrobat with built-in integrations. Saves to a PDF directly from the app. You can rotate, crop, edit, format, annotate and sign all within the app. The app is free to download and use, but there is a subscription of $9.99/month for additional features.
There are many more scanning applications available; most of them are pretty straight forward and simple to use. Adobe Scan is one of the best-in-class applications for mobile document scanning.
As a result of the ESIGN Act of 2000, online e-signatures have been granted the same legal status as a written signature. Electronic signatures provide a simple, legally binding option to capture consent.
Virtually any document requiring a signature process can benefit from the speed and traceability of eSignature. eSignature software allows accountants to send documents for electronic signature quickly; it reduces the need for clients to print, sign and return via email, fax or mail. This reduces document turnaround time from days to hours.
eSignature platforms that require authentication and data encryption are more secure than any other form of signature capture. Prominent eSignature platforms such as Docusign meet the latest IRS regulations, ISO 27001 and SSAE 16 standards, as well as others.
When looking for an eSignature provider, look for secure access and document privacy features. Electronic signature authentication requires users to prove their identity through email, SMS or knowledge-based questions as required by the IRS. Ensure your eSignature provider’s security methods include several means of access control such as data encryption, an audit trail validating names, email addresses, IP addresses and other critical facts about the e-signed document.
We are not affiliated with any of these companies.
A strong cloud-empowered remote work environment is critical to business continuity
Cloud hosting allows you to host all of your desktop applications in the cloud and access them from anywhere with an internet connection through our secure login.
Cloud computing and cloud services offer more than just improved productivity, efficiency and collaboration. These services also provide significant risk mitigation against the unexpected, like a natural disaster or pandemic.
At Verito, we are experts at building cloud solutions that will enhance your firm’s performance and ability to adapt and pivot when confronted by unforeseeable events like natural disasters, cyberattacks and public health threats, amongst many other risks to business continuity.
When it’s necessary to work remotely, it is imperative to have easy access to essential applications and files while providing the opportunity to collaborate from anywhere at any time. Verito’s cloud server provides firms the capability to stay up and running during an unexpected crisis, delivering peace of mind to business owners, security and productivity for staff, and continued service for customers.
Verito’s cloud server offers firms:
- A cloud-based remote desktop solution that provides access to the same icons,
applications, folders and files that are currently available on the desktop
computers in your office
- Easy virtual desktop launch from a single icon
- Complete security because your virtual desktop is launched directly from our
servers located in our US-based data-centers with top-tier physical and logical
Verito is here to help during times like these, when uncertainty leads to reassessment and corrective action. Forward-facing businesses will adjust their business model after the coronavirus threat fades.
Will your firm think differently? Contact Verito Technologies today.
Verito Technologies is a sponsor of the 2020 NATP National Conference.