7 Kinds of Savings for Apartment Properties with Online Document Management


Electronic Document Management

If you manage your documents like close to 90 percent of apartment properties across the country, it’s all about the paper. You might have reams of leases, certificates, reports, and other documents. You file them, copy them, fax them, search through them, ship them, and cart them off to storage.

But there’s a better way. If you take those documents electronic, you can experience all kinds of savings. What exactly can you save? Let’s take a look:

1. Space

Look around one of your leasing offices. Now imagine it with no filing cabinets. No paper-filled drawers. No piles of paperwork on the desks. No stacks of boxes waiting to go off into storage. Imagine what you could do with that space and how much more open and inviting your office could be without all the paperwork in the way. And think of all the elbow room!

2. Supplies

Start with the paper you buy every month. Now add printer cartridges. Folders, binders, hanging files.Filing cabinets and boxes.Even staples and paperclips start to add up. Making your documents electronic may drastically cut the supplies you need.

3. Trees

Reducing or eliminating the need for all those papers will save trees and help the environment. And green is the new black: Decreasing paper usage is a nice feather in your cap when you’re telling environmentally conscious prospects about your property (well, they might not be too happy about you walking around with a feather in your cap, either, but you take my meaning).

4. Shipping

What documents do you need in duplicate or triplicate that you end up sending to the home office? Now imagine your home office getting them faster and without those pesky shipping charges.

5. Time

Here’s a big one that might not be obvious. Think of the amount of time you and your coworkers spend:

  • waiting at the printer
  • filing documents
  • making copies
  • faxing the documents to your home office or other properties
  • packing duplicates or other documents to ship to the home office
  • searching for documents in your filing cabinets
  • walking back and forth to the filing cabinets
  • getting rid of old documents

Now add in the time the home office spends unpacking documents or taking them off the fax machine and filing them.Imagine getting all that time back for other things.

6. Your Bacon

Have you ever gotten burned because the home office updated an important document, but you accidentally used an outdated printout or an old version from your hard drive? Electronic document management version control ensures you’re always working with the most up-to-date file.

Ever lose a document you need? Or waste time searching through filing cabinets because something was misfiled? Documents that are filed and searchable electronically make those headaches a thing of the past.You can find and retrieve what you need when you need it.

7. Money

What happens when you save on supplies, space, shipping, time and eliminate errors? You save money both for each leasing office and for the home office. How much? Check out RealPage’s handy document management ROI calculator for an estimate.

Rolling Out Document Management

So how do you roll out electronic document management? You’ve got three options.

Dive in with both feet.
Go electronic with all documents going forward, and send all your old documents off to be scanned, entered into your system, and shredded, where appropriate. This might ultimately give you the best results. But that amount of scanning can be above some people’s comfort level, even when working with a vendor that specializes in high-volume scanning.

Don’t worry about existing paper.
Keep what you have for as long as you need it and use electronic document management going forward.

Use a hybrid approach.
I think this might be your best option. Move to all-electronic documents going forward. In the meantime, scan old documents when you have to handle them. Renewing a lease? Put that old file in a batch to be scanned. Find yourself pulling a folder out of the filing cabinet? Scan it. That way you’re focusing on scanning just the documents that you end up needing.

So what do you think about electronic document management? Have you tried it? If not, what’s been holding you back? Let me know in the comments section below.


Contributor, Property Management Insider

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Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of PropertyManagementInsider.com. He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

2 responses to “7 Kinds of Savings for Apartment Properties with Online Document Management”

  1. Karen Thomason says:

    We currently use Document Manager for contracts, permits, certificates, previous move-out files, etc. I haven’t gone down the paperless path yet for new residents, but am definitely moving in that direction. I love knowing these important documents are filed safely away for eternity. Any one from the Corporate office can go in and find what is needed without disturbing the on-site management staff. Looking forward to moving forward with paperless files!

  2. We use Microsoft SharePoint for all of our document storage; not just scanned documents. We built hyperlinks into Yardi Voyager to integrate the two systems. This also allows us to apply security to the documents. We have multi-function printer/copier/scanners at all of the properties. We can scan directly to SharePoint, email, efax, etc. We built SharePoint webforms to digitize traditionally paper-based workflows. The savings in postage, couriers, paper, toner, storage, etc. offset a significant portion of our efforts. We’re not quite 100% paperless but we have made significant progress towards that goal.

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