Organization is one of the most overlooked items on the list of the board’s responsibilities. It may seem overwhelming at first to get it all organized, but not knowing where documents are can make the best board members fall flat.
It’s our intention to provide a template to help HOAs get organized so that they can spend their time on important issues and projects rather than searching for documentation.
When Lower My HOA’s founder joined her last HOA board, she was introduced to stacks of boxes that included multiple copies of governing documents that were marked up, file folders with records of all payments for the first 5 years of the building’s existence, old checks, maintenance records scattered throughout the documents and vendor contracts. She was looking for the contract with the property management company. It wasn’t as easy as just opening up a box, going to a folder and it was there. Each of these documents had to be sorted through individually so that she could find the signed contract.
Needless to say, once she started down this path, she made a concerted effort to ensure no future board members would need to do the same. She took time to scan in each relevant document and organize the files into a shared digital file organization system. By the time the next emergency hit, the documents were available and accessible from anywhere.
Here’s our recommendations for organizing your HOA documents:
1. Create Electronic Files of Hard Copies
The smartest thing she did on the board was to scan all hard documents, label them and organize them into appropriate file folders. This may seem like a daunting task, but you never know when you will need the contract for the elevator or snow removal.
- Use a scanning app on your phone or a copy machine with scanning capabilities
- Determine which documents are relevant to your organization and should be scanned in
- Scan each document page by page – keeping the document together in 1 file
- Save out each file as a PDF with an appropriate file name and place it in an appropriately named folder
- Once the files are named and moved to another location (see the next section for location options), they can be deleted from the scanner
- It’s easy to scan in pages
- Electronic files allow the documents to be accessed by the board from anywhere 24/7/365
- Electronic documents ensure you have everything you need when you need them
- It will take some time to scan in all of the important documents
- Scans might not be great if you are rushing through the process
2. File Organization
Once you have electronic documents, you will want to make sure that they are accessible to the board in a shared and controlled location.
When our founder started organizing the HOA documents, she started with Dropbox. Dropbox has a Basic Free package that made it easy to share folders of documents (up to 2GB).
Once the Board moved to having a website, securing the domain and providing email addresses through Google, the Board moved from Dropbox to Google Drive. It was an easy transition that provided the ability for all board members to access the files through their board email login.
The goal is to create a single source of record where all documents live. You don’t want to have each board member save out the documents onto their own file storage as that would defeat the purpose and make it difficult to transfer if a board member steps down from their appointment.
- Select one electronic file storage platform
- We like both Dropbox and Google Drive
- Move all electronic files into the platform
- Provide access to all board members (you should be able to share documents from both platforms)
- It’s fast to set up and easy to use
- You will be able to access documents anywhere
- There are free plans to get you started
- Removing access is easy
- If there are a large number of documents, you may need to upgrade to a paid version
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