Is there any real benefit of going paperless, apart from some vague notion that it’s eco-friendly? Isn’t digitalization significantly more expensive, complicated, and less reliable than paper at the end of the day? Most importantly, is paperless even feasible within the building management industry?

Facilities and real estate management are inherently data-driven industries, generating an extraordinary amount of documentation every single day. And, as such, there are immense opportunities for cost savings and increased operational efficiency through digitalization.

Effectively digitalizing your buildings documentation requires addressing focusing on two broad issues: processing the paper coming in and maintaining that paper once you have it. Although many people may assume that building management is mostly field work, e.g., repairs, maintenance, etc., there is an enormous and continuous amount of data/documentation that needs to be managed all of the time.

Typical Paper-Based Data Sources for Commercial Building Management

  • Contracts
  • Leases
  • Compliance certificates
  • Equipment maintenance logs
  • Insurance certificates
  • Work orders
  • Equipment Warranty Schedule
  • Inspection schedules
  • Work verification checklists
  • Contractor List

What Is the Cost of Operating A Paper-Based Building Management Record/Process?

1. High Labor Costs Associated with Managing Paper Records

Have you considered how much time your business spends managing paper? How many times and ways each document must be handled over the course of its useful life? This is valuable time that could be better spent on more important tasks.

  • Processing incoming documents and deciding what is important and what isn’t
  • Delivering the documents into the hands of the correct person or department
  • Managing the documents based on any number of processes and procedures, depending on the type of document and compliance requirements
  • Keeping all of the records up-to-date and archiving outdated or seldom needed documents
  • Searching through filing cabinets, binders on shelves, or archive boxes for that vital piece of information or traveling to the archive room/off sites

If your business is operating with paper-based systems, this wastes valuable time at all levels of your business, from administrative support to service technicians to the C-suite.

2. Low Tenant Satisfaction Levels

In a competitive market environment, quick response to tenant queries can be crucial for building management companies. Paper-based tenant management processes are labor intensive and slow down your workflows, from lease renewals, sales, maintenance checks, and tenant support.

Tenants are also very savvy about new technology and are increasingly pressuring property management firms to offer the same services they have come to rely on from consumer-focused companies. Properties that don’t offer digital document processing and access are seeing their tenants flock to companies that do.

3. Asset transaction delays

Paper-based document management has a significant impact on real estate transactions. It can take months to gather all of the required paper-based documents to support a real estate transaction, if they can even all be located. Missing or incomplete documentation can negatively impact the value of the building bought or sold.

4. Data Loss Risks Associated with Paper-Based Records

In the case of a catastrophic event such as fire, flood, or natural disaster, your paper-based records can be lost forever. If documents are stored in moisture-prone areas, they are subject to mold, mildew, and even pest infestation – which risks the health and safety of your staff in addition to the data loss. And unfortunately, most physical storage options for commercial use are neither fireproof nor watertight.

Storing paper documents in-house can also lead to the loss, misuse, or theft of confidential information. Consider how your organization currently manages its files. There is likely no single individual who is responsible for the oversight of file access and retrieval. As soon as a document leaves your hands, it’s ultimately out of your control. If that document is lost, misplaced, or stolen, the impact on your business can be significant, including; customer loss, financial loss, regulatory non-compliance, and legal liability.

5. Physical Data Storage Costs Can Be High

Finally, there are the hidden costs for storage of physical documents. Some of these are hard costs, such as equipment purchase, supplies (paper, ink, folders, labels, binders, cabinets, boxes), electricity, and human resources. Think of all the office space devoted to the management and storage of paper documents. Filing cabinets and physical archives can be a massive space drain. The costs of offsite document storage can also add up quickly.

Benefits of Digitizing Your Building Management Records/Processes

As you can see, the costs and risks associated with paper-based records and processes can be astronomical. Because the building and real estate management industries involve such a huge (and constantly growing) amount of documentation that must be maintained for long periods of time, digitalization is the only way to effectively keep up with it all.

This is why BuildingMinds supports our customers to build out their Digital Building Twin by digitalizing all of the manual workflows and data sources, as well as connecting all of the digital islands being managed within the building. The Digital Building Twin helps building managers integrate all available data on a building structure, equipment, commercial operations as well as technical data points from IoT to achieve significant benefits.

1. Quick Access to Relevant Documentation

Digitalization enables just-in-time access to relevant documents like leases, contracts, compliance certificates, insurance certificates, maintenance schedules and records, contractor list, work orders, move–in and move-out documentation, tenants notices, and invoices. This ensures that you can quickly and easily verify compliance, support audit activities, prepare a “data room” for a real estate transaction, respond to tenant needs, and more. This helps building managers to save time, boost productivity, and increase efficiency within the workspace.

2. Increased Sustainability

With rapidly increasing climate change crisis, it is essential for every industry to focus on reducing their environmental impacts to help alleviate the damage that has already been done. Because the sustainability movement continues to grow in popularity each year, green initiatives are becoming increasingly popular among businesses and customers alike. Today, paper makes up to 25% of landfill waste, and eliminating as much paper waste as possible is a great way for your business to be greener by lowering reliance on our limited natural resources and reducing your carbon footprint.

3. Support Automated Process Workflows

Digitalizing building management documents and workflows in one central digital hub allows you to integrate the systems and services within your business and automate workflow processes. Solutions such as the Building Management Systems (BMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS) have been the underlying foundations for monitoring, controlling and managing the overall core building functionalities and services, e.g., Lighting, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

With the disruptive impact of the Internet of Things (IoT), buildings managers can start to leverage open-protocol standards to exchange and consolidate information between all of their ecosystems’ digital islands and derive AI-generated value-added insights to assist in decision-making.

Conclusion

As the building management industry continues to evolve, the digital revolution in building management processes will require a major change in how building managers and their vendors do their jobs. For those who embrace this revolution, it will help alleviate several pain points and enable them to confidently and efficiently manage their holdings.

At BuildingMinds, we believe in the digitalization of the end-to-end workflow in building management. If you are an asset manager or a facility manager; get in touch with us to see how BuildingMinds can help you in simplifying and making your processes more efficient.