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Document sharing with clients

Document sharing with clients

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I have quite of few clients who use a set of spreadsheets for bookkeeping designed by our firm. These are used for annual accounts prep and to produce VAT returns. Clients email the workbooks to us, we make adjustments where necessary and when work is done we email back to clients.

Often they don't resave these to their hard drive so their version isn't 100% accurate or up to date.

Should we do this another way? Can we use google docs or something like that? Or just get client to install Dropbox and share access with us?

All ideas greatly appreciated.

Replies (13)

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By Rachael White
18th Mar 2013 09:34

One of the most important things, I've learned, is to ensure above all else that the product or service you're using is secure. 

If you want to read a bit more about sharing information with clients securely, this Aweb article should help you out.

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By Paul Scholes
18th Mar 2013 23:06

Online accounting

It's that sort of experience over many years (with Sage, QB, TAS, MYOB as well as spreadsheets) that makes online accounting so beneficial, there is no longer our & their books or need to send & receive anything and no need for the client to hold off any further work until they get the corrected/checked spreadsheet or data back.

We've found this worthwhile for all kinds of business, ie even very small self employed clients.


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Replying to DJKL:
By asillahi
19th Mar 2013 11:55

Online accounting


What software do you use and is it not too expensive for the smallest clients?



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Derek French
By derek44
19th Mar 2013 11:32

External File Sharing

DocuSoft has just released a web portal system which acts as an internal/external workflow facility allowing files, with comments, to be uploaded/downloaded between accountant and client. You could contact Robin Nathan via the details on the web-site This way you could check to see if the clients have downloaded the latest version. Other systems don't always provide this useful information.

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By Paul Scholes
19th Mar 2013 12:08


Hi Adnan - depends what you regard as expensive, I have a range of clients using FreeAgent (via Iris OpenBooks) and Xero from self employed people to Ltd Companies, turnover ranges £15K to £1M+

If a client and accountant consider the time they both waste in filling out spreadsheets, tennis matches of phone calls, spreadsheets, data files as well as the annual corrections needed to spreadsheets and deskbound software, because the accountant is not there to fix it month by month, then £240 - £300 + VAT pa is a small price to pay, especially as the accountant can, quite often, reduce their annual fees, because the job is so much easier.  I've even ended up with some clients paying for it myself for X months so that they can see the benefit.

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By davemundy
19th Mar 2013 15:20

Have you tried a document checklist?

Yes, Sparkey999 you should 100% do it another way

Managing the flow of client spreadsheets is a huge pain! Weather you're preparing annual accounts or completing VAT returns it can feel impossible to keep track of everything not to mention the latest versions. At some point or another everyone has experienced the frustration of losing documents in an overloaded inbox and the embarrassment of having to ask for them again. Even worse, is the feeling you get when you've been sent an email with three or more attachments and have no idea what any of them are because of the file naming conventions your client has used.

These are just some of the problems we are solving at AuditDashboard and would love to hear from. Feel free to drop me a note, it would be great to chat more about how we can help (dave at auditdashboard dot com).

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By jndavs
20th Mar 2013 09:28

FTP server

Set up an FTP server and post the documents you want to share to this.



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By MissAccounting
20th Mar 2013 10:06

Security issues may be a concern but Dropbox (or similar) may be an option.

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By Hosted Accountants Ltd
20th Mar 2013 10:46


Dropbox is cheap, free but uses servers based in the US. My understanding is firms are much better to use a UK portal system such as Lindenhouse or the new IRIS Openspace that also starts off free (even for non IRIS users).


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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
20th Mar 2013 11:04

Xero and dropbox

Hi Sparkey

I use both dropbox (mainly for accessing backups of that horrible software package that you stick up a turkeys [***]) and Xero.

Xero is great and if your clients are fairly small and don't have to raise invoices within Xero you can use the cashbook option which only costs £9 a month.

I also use VT with several, they just email me the file and I check/use/copy and send back. 

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By Paul Scholes
20th Mar 2013 13:10

turkeys [***]

.....or, before there are complaints...turkey's [***].  Absolutely brilliant Kent Accountant, best place for it.

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David Winch
By David Winch
20th Mar 2013 13:36

Just a thought, but as an external accountant are you (in these type of jobs) preparing annual accounts (and associated tax returns) without seeing any documents in support of the accounting records?  Or are the supporting documents checked as a separate exercise before the accounts and tax returns are finalised?

I only ask in view of the fuss that was made (in another thread on a slightly different topic) in relation to a proposed Memorandum of Understanding between certain accountants and HMRC that the accountants would check supporting records of P&L Account debits where the value of these exceeded 10% of turnover.

Just saying . . .


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By Paul Scholes
20th Mar 2013 17:30


Hi David - from the standpoint of day to day work of this sort, there's no need to ask the client for sight of any documents to support the client's books or even their explanations.

So it's a matter of professional judgment as to whether you suspect something doesn't look right and so you need to check further.  As with most compliance work there's risk assessment involved, ie knowing or suspecting that the client is a bit vacant or wobbly in some areas.  In other circumstances however I might ask for a scan of a doc, "just in case" eg in the case of leases/finance arrangements where even the most on the ball client can sometimes mistake a lease for an HP agreement.

PS: on the topic of online accounting, a couple of my clients scan the docs behind every transaction into the software, so they can throw them away (recycle them!) so I see them whether I want to or not.

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