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PBMares gets lift from fully integrated document and workflow management

Company: PBMares
Industry : Accounting/Finance
Challenge : Fully integrating documents & workflow
Solution : iChannel Document & Workflow Management
Result : Higher efficiency and greater throughput at all levels


PBMares was looking for a fully integrated digital storage system that offered naming conventions, document history, better retention and purging processes. They needed a reliable system that would allow them to  securely file and share documents of all kinds, create workflows and streamline processes. They also wanted theirs clients to be able to access and share information 24/7.


Before deciding which provider to go with, PBM polled fellow members in an accounting organization, Boomer Circle members and contacts at a few firms provided by Conarc. After looking at several vendors, they reportedly narrowed it down to CCH Document and iChannel, ultimately choosing iChannel. iChannel was the winner for several reasons:

  • All departments could use the program
  • Internal client portal for secure information sharing.
  • Routing queues were unique to iChannel
  • Integrated CRM
  • Customization options
  • Secure email features
  • Integration with various applications
  • Direct vendor access via VPN
  • Backdoor into the file structure if the program is down for long periods of time
  • Competitive cost structure


  • Increased electronic delivery of tax returns via the portal and email links
  • More consistent file naming conventions and faster, easier file retrieval
  • Streamlined filing and more secure file sharing
  • Using workflow to process e-file forms

“iChannel is my favorite application. I love it when staff ask me questions about how to perform a function in iChannel or IF a function can be performed in iChannel because usually I can answer YES to the IF question. I’m always trying to develop ways to use iChannel to improve processes including converting paper processes to electronic processes. We are not using iChannel to its full potential, but we are gradually utilizing more and more features.” – Kelly M. Powell, Information Systems Director, PBMares

Specific Areas of Benefit

Portal: “Clients use the portal constantly throughout the day for downloading and uploading documents. Through the last several years we’ve been able to increase tax return electronic delivery via the use of the portal and the email links feature. Requesting electronic documents from the client is a very easy process and one well received by staff and clients.” – Kelly M. Powell, Information Systems Director, PBMares

Secure File Sharing and Streamlined Filing: PBM uses iChannel to securely share and quickly file documents of all kinds. All of their vendor invoice approvals are processed through routing queues and payment copies are stored in iChannel. They find that converting paper documents into electronic documents and filing to an entity is much easier than their previous folder structure. PBM also reports that their naming conventions are more consistent which makes documents much easier to find. iChannel also gives the user the capability to email links to documents to outside parties such as clients and third parties. All of these features cut down on the time spent managing files.
“When properly saved, iChannel documents are searchable. This makes finding documents when you have scant information about them a simple task. Additionally, saving multiple documents with drag and drop has been a real time saver for me.” – Michael Haigh, Tax Partner, PBMares

Routing Queues: PBM is taking advantage of iChannel’s routing queue feature daily. They’ve used the routing queue process as a means to convert their accounts payable approval process to a paperless process. We also use it to automatically route tax returns and tax workpapers from the Tax program and scan program. At PBM, iChannel is primarily used by the tax department and internal firm departments such as Information Systems, Internal Accounting, Risk Management and Corporate Management. It is used to house tax workpapers and final tax returns for delivery. They are able to scan documents directly to the routing queues and receive faxes into the routing queues for final placement in the entity file areas.

“I like the PDF merging functionality of multiple documents within the routing queue as it allows me to combine multiple scanned files into one document before routing to staff for approval or routing to a vendor entity for filing. I also like being able to select multiple documents in the routing queue in order to route in one batch to a staff person for approval which is a major timesaver. The search function is very user friendly and quick when needing to provide immediate information about a vendor and/or what has been filed.” -Sherrie Ford, Accounts Payable Administrator, PBMares

Use of Workflow: “Through the use of permanent document request links, we were able to create a page on our website in 2015 that allowed clients to upload their signed electronic filing form securely and directly into iChannel. That allowed us to create a workflow process for admins responsible for processing the e-file forms.” – Kelly M. Powell, Information Systems Director, PBMares

Advice for firms planning to implement iChannel: Kelly Powell, Information Systems Director at PBM, gave us some extensive tips, based on the experience she had when PBM chose iChannel. Kelly suggests, “When looking for a solution that best fits your firm, get customer references from the vendor and ask references for honest feedback on pros and cons. Determine which applications your firm currently uses and whether they need to and will integrate with your document management system. Create a chart of pros and cons to compare all of your vendor options then narrow that down to two apps. Make the decision of which app is better for your firm, not just for today, but for the future as well because you need the application to grow with your firm. Don’t make the decision solely on cost as cheaper is not always better. However, in the case, iChannel was a better price.”

About PBMares

PBMares is a leading regional accounting and business consulting firm serving the Mid Atlantic as well as specialty areas nationwide and internationally. PBMares, LLP is the result of a merger between PBGH, LLP and Witt Mares, PLC. This merger created the largest Virginia-based CPA firm, based on number of CPAs.

PBMares offers a full range of financial and business advisory services, including management consulting, pension plan design and administration, investment management, accounting and auditing, and comprehensive taxation and tax planning.