PWC employs ActivePDF solutions to generate and archive over 200,000 complex annual tax filings for financial institutions throughout the country
Formed by a 1998 merger between Price Waterhouse, originally founded in 1849, and Coopers & Lybrand, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) is one of the world’s largest professional services firms. With offices in 153 countries, PWC provides assurance, tax, and advisory services tailored to a wide variety of industries, including government, financial services, and technology.
- High Volume Document Processing
As part of their offerings tailored to the financial services sector, PWC works with a number of financial institutions to prepare tax documents for highly-regulated trust accounts. Developing solutions which integrate seamlessly with each institution’s customer management application, PWC collects customer and account information into an Oracle® database throughout the year. During tax season, PWC tax preparers use a custom application to generate the necessary forms for each account using database information. The documents are generated as a series of printer files, which are automatically sent to the tax preparer’s printer, resulting in ready-to-submit tax filings which can then be mailed to the Internal Revenue Service. As government regulations require that PWC maintain a copy of all prepared filings, each form is also stored electronically in the company’s internal document management system. To ensure future accessibility and document integrity, the printer files were converted to PDF prior to archiving. Originally, Adobe® Acrobat was used to perform conversions and, with some changes to the Microsoft® Windows® Registry, dynamically generate a unique filename for each file. As Acrobat was available on just a handful of machines, this required tax preparers to access the application locally using a remote connection in order to perform conversions. However, as the PWC team could create over 200,000 tax documents in the four to eight weeks prior to the filing deadline, the application’s performance suffered due to high bandwidth, leading to lengthy waits for conversions to complete and bottlenecks in the process.
- Server-side PDF Generation
The tax preparers needed the ability to create and archive PDF versions of filings from their work stations; however, licensing costs and the complex registry changes required to automate file naming made installing Acrobat on each machine a costly and time-intensive solution. By integrating a server-side PDF generator directly into their existing custom tax preparation software, the development team would not only keep software costs at a minimum, but would also enable them to automate conversion and file naming, eliminating the need for tweaks to the Windows registry. Though the conversion requirements were simple, the new converter would also need to be capable of operating under stress, receiving up to 10,000 conversion requests each day.
A brief internet search led the PWC team to the ActivePDF website, where they downloaded an evaluation of ActivePDF Server. The developers were immediately impressed by Server’s high-volume processing capabilities and availability of support during their evaluation. “ActivePDF support staff was both helpful and reachable when any questions arose”, recalled Patrick Shannon, Manager/Lead Developer for PWC. “That’s not common in today’s world.” Seeing no reason to evaluate other offerings since ActivePDFServer offered the right features at the right price, PWC made the decision to purchase. Using Server’s unique print-to-PDF functionality, Shannon and his team were able to quickly implement an automated PDF solution.
The new archiving process is completely transparent to the tax preparers, requiring no manual intervention to generate and store a PDF version of each prepared tax form. When the preparer completes an account filing using PWC’s custom application, the data is still used to generate a series of printer files, which are automatically sent to the preparer’s local printer to create the necessary documents to be mailed to the IRS. The printer files generated by the tax application are then sent to the ActivePDF Server virtual printer on PWC’s server, generating a PDF version of the documents for submission to the company’s internal document management system. The PDFs are now also programmatically named using the corresponding account number, removing the need to alter the Windows registry, and then saved in the appropriate archive location.
PricewaterhouseCoopers now uses ActivePDF Server to automatically convert and archive all prepared tax filings for their clients’ trust accounts. With their implementation of ActivePDF Server, PWC has:
- Generated over 200,000 PDFs within just four weeks.
- Automated archiving processes with faster conversion speeds.
- Streamlined document management through dynamic file naming.
The solution using ActivePDF Server has alleviated the bottleneck previously encountered in archiving tax filings, enabling PWC employees to focus on preparing accurate documents, rather than spend time on administrative functions. Additionally, the PWC development team has been thrilled with the simplified naming process. “With ActivePDF Server installed on our production servers, we are able to programmatically name the thousands of PDF files entirely within the application,” states Shannon, “as opposed to the Adobe option, which required altering Windows Registry values.” As the company continues to quickly grow, there is little concern that Server will have any trouble keeping up with the steady increase in documents prepared each year. “We have produced approximately 200,000 PDFs for some extremely complex tax documents and have experienced absolutely no problems,” says Shannon, “ActivePDF Server has performed as advertized from the very beginning.”