A common New Year goal or resolution is to be more efficient. I am working on two things –the ability to access important documents from any location and reorganization of all my computer files, which are extensive. This article is the first of a two-part series and addresses computer file storage solutions for accessing documentation.
Where is that Property Management Document?
Because of today’s technology, property managers can now work efficiently anywhere. It can be at the office or home, while visiting a property, or during a management appointment. You may have a desktop computer at the office or in your home office. In addition, you probably have a laptop. Can you consistently access all your files and documentation? Here is a true story of a frustrated property manager.
Laura, a broker/property manager, creates and stores files on her office computer. Then, she copies them to her laptop (if she has time) before she leaves the office. Alternatively, she creates and stores files on her laptop and then copies them to her office computer when she returns. She also needs to make sure her staff has access to the new documents so they are not using outdated information.
Can you see the many problems that can happen with this scenario? Laura has a hectic schedule and her computer files have become chaotic because she can’t maintain consistency between computers. Sometimes Laura saves a new version of the document only on the device she is currently using and fails to copy it to another computer. This causes many problems and she is constantly “reinventing the wheel.”
Laura’s needs to change two areas in her method of operation: 1) better file storage solutions and 2) a reorganized and updated computer file system.
Cloud based storage solutions
Today’s cloud based storage solutions provide a wonderful solution to property management companies for maintaining organized files and ease of access when in most locations. Therefore, if you update a document by accessing it on a cloud program, such as your lease agreement, you can access the same document from your home, office, or other location as long as you have Internet access. The key is to be consistent in “saving” to your cloud storage. It is also important to set up proper security on all devices and beware of any dangers when using public Internet access.
There are many cloud based programs available and one for every budget. Some are even free until you need additional storage. More storage is normally very affordable. Examples are Dropbox, Just Cloud, Google Drive, and Microsoft Cloud. There are major software programs, such as Microsoft’s Office 365, that provide you with the latest version of their software that includes cloud-based storage (One Drive). You can use a combination of various programs. Personnel in larger offices with a formal network should consult their network administrator regarding their solutions for cloud-based storage with any computer device.
What happens if you do NOT have Internet Access to the Cloud?
Cloud based programs are great as long as you can connect. However, there are events that cause loss of service. Servers and websites can fail. Computers can crash. The electricity can go out. It is still important to be able to access important documentation immediately in order to service clientele if there is lack of connection to a cloud-based program. You need multiple backups and copies of important documentation.
Set up a good backup program, such as Carbonite or Norton, so you can restore as soon as possible when the situation corrects itself. Look for one that will back up your computer and your cloud-based storage. Make sure backups happen often and on different media, such as flash drives or external hard drives. Keep copies of your most important documents them for quick access until you can access the Internet or completely restore computers, which can take time. Just remember to update these copies periodically.
The next step –
Do you remember Laura? She needed to take two steps to complete an organized file system. Implementing cloud-based storage was the first; next, she needs a major clean up and reorganization of her computer files. The next issue, Property Management Organization, Part 2 will cover how to organize an efficient filing system.
Always remember, Professional Property Management Matters!
Jean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.