Green Industry Articles

Web-Based Document Management : A Green Business Trend You Can’t Ignore

As more and more real estate professionals take time to learn about green products and services for the homes they represent, they must also see if there is an opportunity to “go green” at the office. Hundreds of real estate firms have moved from paper-based filing to web-based document management technology to conserve resources and reduce their carbon footprint.

Consider it a business imperative, since going green seems to be on everyone’s mind these days.

Going paperless starts with converting paper files into well-organized digital content that’s instantly accessible from any computer with Internet access. This is accomplished through imaging or scanning. Documents are then indexed, stored, shared, retrieved, and distributed much more efficiently. Many document management systems also enable you to electronically transfer other files such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, JPG files and even e-mail correspondence directly into your electronic filing cabinets for permanent retention and easy retrieval.

Because of the industry’s record retention requirements, most real estate offices waste valuable office space. Retrieving information involves flipping through file folders on your desk, or going to the cabinet, finding and pulling files, making copies or sending faxes, then re-filing everything in the right place. These few minutes quickly add up to expensive man hours.

Jim Longstreth of Your Neighborhood Realty in St. Petersburg, Florida has been using document management for a little less than a year, but his efforts at going paperless have already saved him time and money. “We started looking at scanning our documents instead of storing them in a back room to save space and make our office more environmentally friendly. But now that we’ve
actually started using document management, being able to pull documents up using any computer connected to the Web is my favorite feature,” he explains. “I can work anywhere at any time, which ends up saving me gas, trips back and forth to the office and more. That helps me and the environment.”

In addition to being environmentally friendly, there are many advantages to going paperless.

Some benefits include:

• Reducing expenses. You’ll purchase less paper, storage materials, ink and toner, postage, and spend less in man-hours on filing, retrieving, and re-filing.

• Saving time. The time you save by electronically filing, retrieving, and distributing documents means more time to spend making money.

• Saving space. The average 5-drawer file cabinet takes up 12 square feet of space. Eight file cabinets occupy almost 100 square feet. What would you do with an extra 100 square feet of prime office space? How much are you paying for the space occupied by your file cabinets?

• Cost-effective records retention, disaster recovery and business continuity.

• Fast and professional communication. The ability to e-mail documents by simply clicking an icon and addressing the e-mail is a powerful customer service tool.

Document management is a way for real estate professionals to continue their work with the green movement from the homes they represent to the offices from which they work. Any effort to reduce paper, large or small, will make the world a better place for future generations.

Stephanie Jones, Marketing Director, e-bridge Solutions
Green REsource Council Newsletter, February 2009