Like any corporation, community associations generate a tremendous amount of paper records and documents. Some larger and/or older associations must dedicate entire rooms to storing nothing but filing cabinets packed full of paperwork. Because inflow of paperwork knows no ends, as long as the association continues to operate, the records will continue to accumulate. Organization of records is an enormous task that normally falls on the board members or the management company. Fortunately, as technology continues to evolve, the prospect of keeping digital records becomes easier and more affordable. Aside from elimination of the amount of space required to store digital records, digital records are also more time efficient.
The process of “going digital” is two-fold. First, the board must approve a plan to convert all of its existing, paper records to a digital format. Second, the board must purchase technology or contract an outside firm to incorporate new paperwork into the digital records moving forward. Conversion of existing records may present more challenges due to high volume of paper records. As a result, the board may choose to hire a third party company that specializes in scanning and organizing records.
Experts recommend that an association first devise a plan as to what it wants to store digitally. Does the association intend to convert all of its files, including dormant files, or only the active files? Typically, third party conversion companies recommend converting everything to a digital format, ensuring everything is stored in the same place. The board must then budget for the costs and time needed to complete the project, including the cost to hire the third party, if needed. Although hiring an outside company may eliminate a large amount of time the board is investing in the project, either a board member or the property manager must work oversee the process to ensure accuracy.
Finally, if an association chooses to make all records digital, a simple desktop scanner can be purchased for the association’s office or the property manager to continue the paperless process. Each time a new document is received it can be scanned and added to the digital records and the paper copy thrown away.
Choosing to become a paperless association is something many boards are now debating, as the digital process will likely, in the long run, save space and money and will help to ensure easy, long term access to all association records.