Taking the iPad to client meetings

Share this content

One week on and the iPad has become my paperless file for meetings.

We work increasingly paperless in the office, all company files are on CCH Pro-Audit software and most others are compiled in a standard Excel file we have created. We attach scanned client documents to the Excel file as PDFs (Office 2007 allows you just to insert a PDF into a spreadsheet) so it's quite efficient even for small unincorporated businesses.

But all this means that I don't have a paper file to take to client meetings. In the office I can just take my laptop into the meeting room or see the client at my desk (if it's visible under the files of paper!), but what do you do outside the office?

I have taken my laptop before, but that has two particular disadvantages - 1) like any Windows PC, it takes half the meeting just to start up so I can open the relevant document, and 2) it's big and heavy to cart around.

Not so the iPad, which fits in even the smallest bag along with a pad of paper, calculator and all sorts of other essential stuff, and takes only a few moments to fire up. The snag was working out how to get files ONTO the iPad. The official method is to transfer them via iTunes, which is fine if you are transferring them for use in an iPad application that iTunes recognises. However, much easier is to use my trusty Dropbox account. There's a neat iPad app from Dropbox that gives you instant access to your cloud-based file store. I just drag the files or folders I need into Dropbox on my PC or Mac and there they are on the iPad. Even better is that the Dropbox app includes all the file viewers you might need, so you don't actually have to run a word processor app like Pages to be able to view a Word document, for example.

I have loaded up the iPad with PDFs of client Sage nominal reports - several hundreds of pages - plus draft accounts, CT comps and Excel working papers. You need to remember to mark them as Favourites in Dropbox so they are available when you're not online.

I have also experimented with a file manager app called ReaddleDocs which I have hooked up to Dropbox and my MobileMe iDisk so Ican get immediate access to any files I have stored in the cloud, or attachments to emails. This app seems to have a better range of file viewers and I haven't found a file type it can't open. Unlike Dropbox, where you scroll down through documents vertically, like you do in Word, ReaddleDocs displays them like pages in a book so you scroll left and right by wiping a finger across the iPad screen. Not yet sure I like that as much as it make continuous text slightly harder to read.

The trick on the iPad is to realise that files are stored within the application in which you are viewing them. There is no separate document folder accessible by all apps. So if you view a Word document in the Dropbox app and decide to open in in Pages to make some edits, you are actually saving a copy in Pages. Now there are two copies on the iPad, so you need to keep your wits about you to make sure you know which is which!

Returning to the office, it's quick job to delete the files you reviewed with the client and upload the next set via Dropbox for the next client meetings.

About Nigel Harris

Nigel Harris

I'm a partner with Burton Sweet, chartered accountants & business advisers, and run the Shepton Mallet office down in beautiful Somerset. Despite the name, Shepton Mallet is actually the home of Glastonbury Festival! I trained in audit and corporate tax with Grant Thornton and came to my current position in 1991 via small local practices and a stint with a training consortium.

I have the distinction of being one of the original members of the AccountingWEB editorial team, having been a freelance writer here for a year or so before John Stockdyk joined!



Please login or register to join the discussion.

29th Nov 2010 11:16

Beaten to the punch!

...I had a draft blog on just the same topic in preparation!

I agree that DropBox needs to be at the heart of things - It's a great tool.   It's also handy an an 'emergency cache' of personal documents like copy passports, contact numbers, etc.  If you're ever stuck abroad and have your passport, etc.  stolen - an online set of records can be a lifesaver.

I also liked ReadleDocs, but I also looked at DocsToGo and GoodReader.    Any one of these works really well for taking collections of documents away with you in place of a paper file.



Thanks (0)
29th Nov 2010 18:53

Don't be put off Charles!

There's plenty of scope to cover the subject in your own way - perhaps emphasising the advantages of using the tablet as a substitute for paper.

Thanks (0)
By 0098087
01st Dec 2010 10:48


I print nominals from VT as a PDF and use Docs to go to copy over. I do print the draft accs as client likes a look but got to agree about the Ipad. Excellent cause I justify it for business. 

Thanks (0)
05th Jan 2011 12:32


And if you get Soundnote you can record the meeting, while making notes which act as tabs on the sound file, taking you to that point of the recording, and also draw diagrams, etc. Not sure whether the multi-tasking capabilities of OS 4.2 will allow it to go on recording when you are looking at the pdfs in another app (I haven't got round to upgrading yet) but I don't see why not.

Thanks (0)
By 0098087
05th Jan 2011 14:39


Surely you have to advise the client you are recording the meeting? Do people complain? 

Thanks (0)
By 0098087
06th Jan 2011 11:53


If you put something into dropbox on your pc, then before you leave your premises you must have to turn the ipad on and connect to dropbox to get it locally on the ipad? You can't go somewhere without a net connnection and then just use dropbox? 

Thanks (0)
04th Mar 2011 19:21

Instant WiFi with BTFON

The iPad is just so impressive and creates a really professional image of how to work in the current IT age.

The problem mentioned above about internet access when away from your office can often be solved if you use an unlimited BT Broadband connection either at home or in your office. BT's FON and Openzone systems means that you can automatically login to 1 of 2 million WiFi hotspots in the UK.

BT have developed an iPad App you can download (search for BTFON) where you key your ID and access key into the App just once and it automatically logs you in to a hotspot when in range.

All other BT broadband users with v2 Homehubs have FON and Openzone channels and there is an availability mp online which you can check before you go somewhere. There's even FON points worldwide in major cities.

Thanks (0)

Related content