Decision To Go 100% Digital
This is not a blog about the ‘real estate’ part of our real estate appraisal business. This is about a small decision that I’ve made to take our business 100% digital. But, there isn’t a grand plan, months of planning, a rollout team, an integration partner, or any other fanciness that small businesses can seldom afford anyway.
Removing the Paper!
My oldest son is home from college for the summer. My youngest son is in high school and home for the summer. So, I have exploited the fact that I have inexpensive (not cheap) labor available to me for a 3-month period. I am not ashamed to admit they make minimum wage, but I feed them lunch. As an appraisal company, our federal guidelines mandate that we have a project file for at least 5 years or at least 7 years if it was in litigation. So, we have filing cabinets and more filing cabinets full of paper. This has always bothered me because the files aren’t easy to use. They have to be retrieved, used, refiled, etc… I’ve always worried about files being misplaced like this.
So, for the summer, my fine sons are scanning and shredding, scanning and shredding, scan…. But what about compliance you say? Well, our guidelines say that I must have a copy of the original work file. So, we have a PDF scan of the work file, including big blueprints, data on CD’s, etc…saved to our server here. Then, a backup runs every night to a NAS (big hard drive) that makes a simple copy. But, since I was getting rid of my backup’s backup…ie…the physical files, I have migrated to an Amazon S3 and Glacier platform as my last line of defense. It’s offsite, it’s replicated, it’s easily retrievable. I actually feel better now because before this change, my server, NAS and files were in the same building. Having come out of the IT world years ago, after Al Gore, but pre-Google, I understand the idea of redundancy and off-site readiness. In the military (during Clinton), I learned the ‘two is one’ and ‘one is none’ concept very quickly. So, I’ve applied all those bits of info swimming in my brain to come up with the solution.
So, if I need to see a file from 2008, I just pull up the PDF of the work file in about 5 seconds. Now, when a job is completed, we scan our work file immediately, so we’ll never have to ‘back scan’ archives again. The boys will have to find another job next summer.