Why Scanners Improve Efficiency in Accounting Offices

In the days of yore, the file preparer’s desk was fairly standard. You could find pencils and pens of all colors and sizes prepared to scratch indelible marks on the white sheet before us. Somewhere underneath the computer screen lay a stapler, waiting to pierce the perfect flat finish of unsuspecting paper edges. The clack, clack, clack of adding machines and calculators broke the silence of the dedicated accountant who silently entered all those debits and credits. The ruler hid under the stack of chaos.

Not in our paperless world. Not at my office. These are all gone. Yet, there one necessary item for every eager engagement attendant: A scanner. A scanner?? On every desk?? At $350 per scanner, that’s $4,000 for the 12 people on staff!

Why a scanner on every desk you say? I once called on my trusty assistant with a simple request: “Please take these three sheets of paper and go to the copy room. Scan them into my account so I can add them to this file.” Grumbling and snorting (as only she can snort), off she went.

I turned my chair to my computer, opened up my file in my left screen and the folder from the scanner in the right. I grabbed my trusty mouse, ready to pounce the moment the file popped up. I was primed and ready!! Some 12 ½ minutes later, my file appeared. “What took so long?” I smiled? I received a melodious reply. “Well, Barb was ahead of me, and we chatted about the movie she saw last night.”

Four minutes after that, my assistant appeared to announce that the originals were being returned. I watched as she left my office to return to hers. I measured another 6 minutes while she kibitzed with a staff member, refreshed coffee and sat down to continue.

Let’s see … 12.5+4+6=25.5 minutes. At her rate of $120 per hour that’s $51. I’m told each preparer scans 8 times per day on average. That’s $51 x 8 = $408. At 180 work days per year, that’s $73,491 of unproductive time. Oh sure, it could be billed to the client, but it’s still unproductive. At 12 preparers over two offices??? That’s roughly $800,000 of dead down time!!!

Well as my staff said, that was just one time. It’s usually only about 8 minutes if everything goes smoothly. Oh great, I feel better. Now it’s only $250,000 worth of time wasted.

At the desk, the task is measured at  less than one minute, so  how fast can you run down to the store and buy a scanner for everyone’s desk???

LESSON: Do the analysis and provide the right tools. Don’t wind up being THE “tool.”

Editor’s Note: This is the 5th post in a series of 6 posts on the paperless office. Read the other posts: