Process Makes Perfect
With electronic filing on the rise, the long-term outlook for wage and income filing is anyone's guess. But even as digital technology forges ahead, one thing is certain: Paper-based W-2 and 1099 MISC forms aren't ready to call it quits. According to Paul Willard, sales manager, Broker Forms, Grand Rapids, Mich., print has teamed up with an unlikely ally—the economy.
"Many are convinced paper W-2 and 1099 MISC volume is going down, but in reality that is not the case," he said. "The only thing of material impact on the reduction of printed forms is governmental regulatory change, which as we all know is an extremely slow-moving entity. As the economy improves, the need to report Wages (W-2) and Income (1099) becomes greater, with the primary reporting method being paper forms."
The numbers back his claims. Willard noted a joint study conducted by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) found that the number of W-2 and 1099 MISC paper forms filed with the federal government was up 0.4 percent over the previous year. Another statistic indicated that employee and recipient copies have jumped approximately 2 percent. "In short, W-2/1099 paper filing is not dead, but rather on the rise," Willard observed.
In light of these findings, Broker Forms is helping distributors secure new W-2/1099 business, while ensuring current accounts remain profitable. Oftentimes, this involves increased automation of manual processes rather than developing an extensive product rollout.
Here, Willard expands on the thought process behind his company's latest contribution to the tax sector.
Print+Promo (P+P): Describe a promotion that you consider one of Broker Forms' best.
Paul Willard (PW): Broker Forms has chosen to focus its resources on helping distributors conduct business more efficiently when it comes to selling tax forms. Last year, Broker Forms helped a mid-sized distributor integrate its W-2/1099 order processing via an EDI/XML data exchange, in which the distributor automatically uploads its PO directly into the Broker Forms system, [and] Broker Forms processes the order through fulfillment/invoicing, and passes back shipping and invoice information directly into the distributor's system. We are integrated with the most popular industry software programs. This means a distributor using one of those systems simply requests for the functionality to be turned on.
P+P: What influenced the decision behind this promotion?
PW: Instead of promoting an item, Broker Forms improved a process. By doing so, we allowed the distributor to reduce time spent per tax order. From receipt of the order to receipt of payment from the customer, time spent was reduced by over 80 percent (32 minutes to six minutes), thereby allowing the distributor to redeploy those resources. During this time, the distributor acquired another distributorship, something that would have been much more difficult or even impossible without the automation of its tax forms program.
P+P: How was this a profitable promotion for your company? For your client?
PW: The integration improved profitability for both companies, primarily through automating a manual process. This has two benefits: 1) Quicker service to the end-customer due to data flowing more quickly, and 2) order accuracy. The less manual intervention in order processing the better. Broker Forms ships 99.99 percent of its orders next business day and boasts a 99.70 percent accuracy rate through this process. In addition to improved service, the distributor was able to focus its time on other areas of its business.
P+P: Did you encounter any challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?
PW: It is never easy to change a business process, especially one with so much manual involvement. The biggest challenge was creating confidence in automating a previously manual process. It required communication to multiple contacts within the distributorship, including customer service, accounts payable and billing. Once everyone saw a few orders process through their system completely, the buy-in was immediately improved and full benefits were realized.