Five Cool Ways to Streamline Data Sharing with Clients and Stakeholders

Do you ever get any of the following questions from clients or co-workers?

  • I can’t find your email.
  • I accidentally deleted what you just sent me.
  • My computer crashed and I lost everything. (And I want you to take up your precious time to help me re-create everything you’ve ever sent me.)
  • I lost my tax return and I need it in the next five seconds.

Picture1These requests can get downright annoying.  And they can be expensive too.  Knowledge workers spend anywhere from 15 to 35 percent of their time searching for information.  (Source: IDC)  Executives waste six weeks per year searching for lost documents.  (Source:

Much of this wasted time can be eliminated if you use a portal.   A portal is software that is like a set of locked filing cabinet drawers in the cloud.  They are accessible by authorized users from any browser, regardless of the device you are using.  Macs, PCs, tablets, and even smartphones can access portals.

An example of a portal is Citrix ShareFile.  In Sharefile, you can set up a file folder for each of your clients, employees, vendors, or simply yourself by controlling user access.  Within each file folder, you can have files and subfolders where you store documents that others need access to.

Picture2Not only do portals save time, they can give you a competitive edge.  They look professional, make your clients feel more organized when working with you, and save lots of time spent finding lost files in your email.  Based on a recent study of 100 accountants that attended the Ultimate Accounting vCon, 50% did not use a portal and only 20% were fully utilizing portals with their clients.

Here are five ways to save email time, look organized, and serve your clients and stakeholders more professionally:

#1 – Watering Hole

Set up a folder for each client, and give them access to their piece of your portal.  Load their files into their portal, and when the client loses the files or the emails, all you have to do is say, “It’s in your portal.”  You never have to retrieve anything for anyone again if you put it in their portal.

The portal acts as the watering hole.  Each client or employee goes there to get their items.  They can only see their part of the watering hole.  Your client will soon be trained that the place to “meet” you for documents is their watering hole.

You can also have a special place for project documents, where all team members have access.  Nonprofit board members can benefit from their own watering hole.  You can also find special industry uses for portals in real estate, law, construction, advertising, printing, training, and many more professions.

#2 – Client/Employee Onboarding

Picture4Sometimes your hard drive or company server is just too big to find things.  You can set up a separate folder in your portal for new employees or new clients where all of their onboarding documents and processes are located.  No more running around for the right form on the employee’s first day, just send them to their portal.

ShareFile makes this easy too.  Once you’ve set up a shell folder with all of the generic documents for onboarding, you can copy the entire structure to make a new folder for the next new employee or client.

#3 – Contracts and Signatures

ShareFile is now integrated with RightSignature.  Upload a contract or engagement letter to a ShareFile folder, and a new command to get the document signed is available.  From ShareFile, you can connect directly with Right Signature, set up where to get the document signed, and send it to the client or employee for signature.

This streamlines your onboarding processes for the client who no longer needs to print, scan, and email back the document.

Picture3#4 – Virtual Drive

If you are working on something important that you absolutely, positively do not want to lose, you can easily upload it to your portal, using it as a backup.  That way, you don’t have to wait to your next scheduled backup; instead you have instant relief that you won’t have to redo that data.

#5 – File Drop

Are you expecting files from your clients?  In ShareFile, you can create a file drop as well as a remote upload form on your website.  Clients can help themselves and the files will magically appear.  This is great for tax accountants, QuickBooks consultants, printers, web designers, and many more businesses.

Your time is valuable.  Try these ideas to save time and serve your clients and co-workers better.