In an increasingly technological world, more and more small businesses are going paperless in an effort to cut costs and increase productivity. But, since homeowners associations have customarily used paper for all of their transactions and record keeping, they are sometimes hesitant to join the shift to paperless.
Many HOAs delay going paperless because they fear it will be too time-consuming or expensive, especially if their association has been around for a while and has many years of stored documents. But often, despite the extra effort, the pros of going digital far outweigh the cons. Here are just a few important reasons why going paperless may be beneficial for new and well-established HOAs alike.
Benefits of Going Paperless
As years go by, paper piles and file cabinet sizes increase, and so does the time and effort it takes to locate a needed document. Digitizing your files means easy and instant access to them, less wasted time digging around, and an HOA with enhanced efficiency and professionalism.
In today’s world, most residents prefer to receive communications from their HOAs electronically rather than by snail mail. Receiving and paying rent and maintenance bills online is simpler for residents and also makes it easier for the association to keep and access payment records. Additionally, newsletters, announcements, event invitations and other HOA-resident communications are faster, easier, and less expensive when sent electronically.
Data security should be a top priority in any HOA, but there is only so much you can do to guard the association’s most valuable information. Thanks to today’s cloud-based systems, your HOA and its residents’ private data can be more securely protected. For added peace of mind, especially important data and documents can be backed up on flash drives and external hard-drives.
For HOAs with years of paperwork, going paperless can seem like a big investment. But what may be a significant upfront cost can yield even greater savings down the road. The expense of paper, ink, toner, files, cabinets, copiers, and employees to manage them all adds up over time and may cost more in the long run.
The Green Effect
It’s no secret that going paperless is a great way to go green. Not only does using less paper have a positive impact on the environment, but inactive printers, fax machines, copiers, and other paper-related equipment mean less energy consumption overall.
Tips to Get Started
Ready to go paperless? Here are a few hints to ensure a smooth transition.
Make a Plan
Before moving forward, you’ll want to have a plan in place to streamline the process. You’ll want to know where and how your files will be stored, including a cloud or network server, and a set structure for the files so they are better organized and more easily accessible to board members and other association employees.
Little by Little
Take your time. Going paperless doesn’t—and shouldn’t—happen overnight. Decide how far back you want to make your files digital, and do a little at a time. If you choose to keep older files in paper form and use digital documentation going forward, set a date at which you’ll switch to paperless; you can always go back and scan old documents at your own pace as you become more familiar with the process.
Invest in a Scanner
Easy access to a digital scanner will enable your HOA board members and office employees to scan and upload any paper documents they may receive during the transition to paperless.
Going paperless doesn’t have to break the bank or seem overwhelming. Taking action to decrease your HOAs use of paper can yield impactful benefits for your community and its residents.