Whether you still shuffle physical papers or you need a solution for online file clutter; you can get your documents under control in a jiffy with these three letters: DMS.
There are two types of landlords that need help with getting documents under control. The first hasn’t embraced the digitized document world, yet. The other needs the tools to keep those digitized files organized, ready for use or retrieval in a snap. Which one are you? Check out the below sections to learn more.
What is DMS?
DMS is a Document Management System which can be a stand-alone document management software or a component within a larger system like the best property management software solutions have to offer.
— Not every stand-alone DMS has all the components that a modern landlord and property manager needs in this digital age.
— Not every rental management software system has built-in document management or has all the components of a good DMS.
Read on about document management systems and see if a stand-alone or integrated system is best for you and your rental business.
DMS at its core relates to record management and workflows; from document creation to final storage and all things in-between. A document management system can help any type of business with features that improve:
Why is a document management system important for landlords?
Landlords and property managers have unique documentation management needs that aren’t inherent in other industries.
Paperwork is at the heart of the rental business. Leases and management agreements need to be crafted, signed, and stored but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Tax and compliance, marketing material and photos, tenant records, financial reports, tenant screening documents, and other sensitive data needs to be stored properly with easy access.
A document management system can help landlords with all those documents and help:
- Recover wasted time on paperwork
- Improve compliance and security
- Provide clients and tenants an excellent experience
- Increase daily process efficiencies
- Be free of the traditional office document system limitations
- Have compliance and tax documentation available at their fingertips
And so much more!
But what does that look like for landlords and property managers in their day-to-day operations? Paperwork is time consuming but a vital part of everyday operations. Here are some advantages of using a document management system in your rental business:
Reduce errors – ever dig through a filing cabinet looking for that one document you need asap just to come up empty. Being able to find documents in a filing cabinet relies on everyone in the office using the same logic when filing. But even then, having the same filing system in place doesn’t completely eliminate human errors. A good document management system can reduce those errors significantly.
Gives the ability to work remotely. No more waiting for a document to make it from one desk to another. Authorized employees and users can access the same documents from different locations simultaneously.
Automate redundant processes by creating and storing document templates for reuse.
Improves business relationships and reputation by having access to important records and information at your fingertips. No more lost files or missing reports.
Ensures security of sensitive data and information. Anyone could easily access your filing cabinets (even without a key) but a document management system online can offer more protections for keeping your documents from getting into the wrong hands. And often, a DMS will have user level permission settings that will limit which types of documents can be accessed.
Document Management Solutions
Many online tools provide access to documents (both in the creation process and storage) that work as a stand-alone document management system such as:
Best DMS for document creation and collaboration
Considerations: These options allow users access to collaborate on document creation and access file storage but are not automatically organized for easy retrieval. Be sure everyone involved uses consistent file and document naming conventions.
You may also need to create other policies regarding document storage such as limiting the quality and size of the digital copy as pricing is usually tied to the amount of data storage.
Best DMS for executing document signatures
Considerations: These stand-alone tools are great for managing documents that need electronic signatures but they lack the ability to create, store, and retrieve documentation that doesn’t need a signature.
Tip: Many DMS and property management software options have an e-signature tool built-in. For example: Rentec Direct property management software integrates seamlessly with HelloSign.
Best DMS that offer real estate and landlord components
If you are not opting for an integrated DMS solution, in our research, these come highly recommended and have marketing to landlords and property managers unique document storage needs.
Considerations: These DMS options have been created with landlords and property managers in mind and accommodate those unique needs but do not offer a one-stop solution for accessing all data such as realtime tenant payment transactions. They also lack the ability to create reports based on the data stored in a property management system such as a tenant rent roll or property financial reports such as income and expense reports and balance sheets.
Other DMS solutions
In addition to the above, we found these document management systems mentioned often across the internet by trusted reviews:
Best Integrated Document Management System for Landlords
We might be biased but we believe the best solution for document management is using the best property management software with a built-in document management solution. Why? Because you get the best of all the stand-alone options and so much more!
Property management software keeps track of all your income and expenses where you can attach documents like invoices and receipts. Go ahead and use that information to pull financial and tenant reports right in the software. Best part, those reports are now at your fingertips 24/7 without double entry of information or digging through spreadsheets or filing cabinets.
You have many choices for your property management software needs but do they also offer all the benefits of a great document management system? Rentec Direct property management software certainly does. With Rentec Direct you have unlimited storage capacity and your documents are accessible remotely, stored securely, with user level permissions as well as integrated with all the transaction ledgers and report features you’d want for your rental business needs.
How to choose the right document management software for your rental business needs?
What to look for in free or stand-alone options – be sure to look out for:
Hidden charges and extra fees for users and data.
Limitations of users and/or data storage. If you want your property portfolio and client portfolio to grow, your document management solution needs to be scalable.
Poor reviews online regarding support of products or services.
Ease of importing and exporting documents. It should be as easy as a click of a button.
Learning curve – Is it easy to create, edit, and update templates, applications, and other documents?
Security – Sensitive data requires greater security. Check to ensure your data is encrypted and password-protected, you are able to assign user permission, and have advanced security measures such as two factor authentication. Tip: cloud-based document storage is often more than onsite storage.
File sharing — Can you share files easily? Remember, property management software often lets you share files with tenants via the tenant portal and with owners via the owner portal as well as by email and text messaging. . In addition, you can have tenants and owners sign documents electronically
Integrations – Does the DMS play well with your other tools and software such as e-signatures? If not, perhaps an integrated solution would work better for your needs.
Stand-alone DMS or Integrated DMS – Which is Right for Me?
What to look for in stand-alone options vs. integrated DMS within a property management software.
Stand-alone DMS Pros and Cons
Stand-alone DMS options come with some advantages of collaboration in document creation. Multiple users can log in during the creation process and make changes, comments, or edit suggestions and the system tracks those changes.
A stand-alone DMS lacks the connection with your other property management tools such as online accounting, electronic tenant payments, marketing, tenant screening, and the like. This means you’ll have multiple places to search for documents instead of one convenient location. A DMS might hold all your receipts, invoices, marketing pictures, and agreements but because they aren’t tied directly to your properties, tenants, and owners you may have to do some cross referencing or double entry.
Integrated DMS solutions Pros and Cons
An integrated DMS solution means a property management software bundle that includes all the tools you need for running your property management business including records storage, file management, and executing agreements and leases.
Document retrieval accuracy is better in an integrated solution because documents added can be identified and stored based on a property, tenant, vendor, owner, marketing, or overall general purpose.
Integrated file management in your landlord software helps fast-track document turnaround such as lease signing and inspection reports.
Although most property management software solutions track transaction and profile edits, they don’t typically track document access or edits in the document creation process.
Both stand-alone and integrated offer users remote access.
Frequently asked questions about document management software solutions:
Is finding a saved document easy with a DMS?
If you are using a stand-alone product you’ll want to be careful with your file folder and document names when creating or uploading just as you would in a traditional filing system. In an integrated solution with a property management software you’ll be able to save your files attached to the appropriate tenant, property, owner, bank, or transaction so it makes finding your documents easy. But you’ll still want to take care in naming your documents before uploading.
What about receipts, invoices, and other transaction documents?
In an online storage DMS files of any type can be stored. In your landlord software, items such as receipts and invoices can be attached directly to a transaction.
What’s the difference between records storage, DMS, and file management?
Record storage is where the documents are held. File management is how you label or index (name) those files to make it easy to find. Document management system (DMS) is where those both meet which may or may not include document creation and signing.
Is importing documents easy with a document storage system?
With the right tool, it should be as easy as a click of a button.
Yes, but is it safe to manage files digitally?
Follow document management best practices and have security measures in place such as SSL, encryption makes your documents safer in the digital world than the physical one.
What types of documents can landlords and property managers maintain in a DMS?
Anything you can create digitally:
Scanned paper images
Project management agreements
Real estate contracts
Rules & regulations
Invoices & receipts
Signed lease/rental agreement
Lease and rental agreement templates
Whether you use a stand-alone, integrated, or a combination of tools and software, getting your documents into a DMS solution will save you valuable time and eliminate some redundant tasks and save you from the frustration of trying to find that important document you needed an hour ago — I’m sure it’s here, somewhere, right?!