Everyone knows that going paperless makes a better impact on the environment. But despite that, many homeowners association are still mostly using paper for their documents and communication. It seems the green initiative may not be enough reason for some HOAs to make the switch.
What many don’t realize is that you can get started going paperless without spending a ton of money. And the savings really add up. For example, you can save thousands of dollars each year on costs from copying, printing, and storing files with each file cabinet you aren’t filling. Just one 4-drawer filing cabinet costs $2,000 to maintain and a whopping $25,000 to fill!
So, if you’re hoping to take the leap to a paperless association, here’s how to get started:
A Little at a Time
Remember, it doesn’t have to happen overnight and all at once. In fact, that could end up costing you more with less benefit.
The best way to ease into a paperless community is by setting a date for when you will start being paperless. You don’t have to throw out your current filing cabinets and documents. Just let them expire and get rid of the old ones every seven years, which is the point at which the government no longer requires you to retain them. This will let you slowly phase out the old documents and start going paperless with the new ones.
Have a Plan
Don’t go paperless without a specific plan for where to store the digital documents. You’ll want to have a network server or cloud storage in which to put the documents. You’ll also need a planned structure for the files. They should be easy for everyone to access and find what they need. Also, make sure the software you use for storing the files is set up for community associations.
Access to a Scanner
As your association moves towards an electronic structure, it’s a good idea to have easy access to a scanner. This will allow your board members or HOA managers to scan and upload any documents that have been received physically. You’ll also want a working version of Adobe Acrobat to read and fill in documents as PDFs.
Other Things to Have
Make sure your board members and homeowners have a working email address. You can also save a lot of money by emailing out communications like violation letters rather than mailing them. And allow your owners to make their payments electronically too! If you don’t already have one, you’ll need an online portal system for this. Cedar Management Group can help your association with setting this up, as well as a community website.