I'm one of those people who is not only happy to separate and place my garbage, recycling, compost, and yard waste at the curb in a regimented manner, but I have rain barrels for watering my garden, low-flow toilets, a clothesline, and try to "Go Green" in general. I am very proud to be a Halton resident where we are environmentally aware and conscientious, along with our neighbouring communities.
You may wonder what the heck this has to do with the new Client Portal at SB Partners. Well, I also find myself thinking environmentally in the electronic world – and that leads me to promote the Portal as the best alternative for exchanging information with a reduced carbon footprint.
Electronic exchange of information means less paper, fewer "thumb drives" floating around (probably unsecured and often getting lost), and most beneficially, in my opinion, fewer CDs and DVDs. These chunks of plastic are my pet peeve. Paper is recyclable, thumb drives are re-usable, but CDs and DVDs are burned, ripped, copied, used as Frisbees and then tossed. They never break down. They can go nowhere but the landfill.
And this, happily, brings me back to the Portal. Some of you may know that SB Partners has had a Portal for several years, but recently we decomissioned the "Pinto" and acquired the "Smart Car".
Back in May, we upgraded our internal systems to a fabulous, new Document Management system. Along with that comes our new, integrated Portal. The two work in tandem.
This Client Portal is a bit different from our previous one, in that it is cloud-based. This is our first foray into the cloud. Security of our clients' information is of utmost importance to us so we took our time, made sure to investigate factors for using this cloud application, and we are happy to report that this one is completely Canadian-based. None of our content is stored across the border.
This system also allows for one bookkeeper to access multiple, separate Client Portals through one singular logon and password. One of my favourite features is the automatic password reset. This saves all of us time. You click "Forgot My Password" and a new, temporary one is emailed to you. This Portal also makes life easier for SB staff, as transferring to our Document Management system is simplified – we "approve" your upload and it is moved directly into your client area in our internal system.
One thing to consider is that items only remain on the Portal for 90 days. This automatic setting helps us with space management. If you notice that something is missing from the Portal after you upload, it's likely because it's been moved to our internal servers and unpublished by our staff.
Of course, Client Service is always top of mind at SB Partners. This new system works with all web browsers, even has an option for a simplified version to work on your tablet or smartphone, and is much more reliable for sending email notifications. If we upload something for you, you get an email. If you upload for us, we get an email. You don't have to take time manually letting us know you have uploaded.
Not that it's part of my carbon footprint reduction theme, but I should also let you know that laws are sweeping across North America restricting the sending of private information over email. This Portal is a proactive solution for our clients for when Ontario also implements such a ruling.