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Choosing a Document and Transaction Management Solution

June 14 2013

This is the latest in a series of 'Buyer's Guides' that feature questions to ask and options to consider before making a new purchase. See our previous guides to purchasing a CMA and CRM.

document mgrWhat are document management and transaction management?

Document management and transaction management represent two distinctly different product categories. However, some companies have chosen to offer solutions that combine the two categories into a single solution. Thus, we are discussing them together here. Borrowing from our previous article on this very subject, here's a quick review of these product categories.

  • Document management technology is intended to help real estate professionals manage documents with functions that support: digitally storing documents, sharing documents with other interested parties, organizing documents, tracking the status of documents, and (in some instances) electronically signing documents.
  • Transaction management products are intended to help real estate professionals manage a transaction through functions such as: contact management, a calendar tool, some degree of document management, and a wide variety of other features. It provides a collaborative space for working with all the parties to a transaction through tasks (for instance ordering home inspection, coordinating mortgage, etc.).

Forms management is also often a component of products that fall into this category.

Questions to Ask

There are some important questions to ask when buying any real estate technology product and some that are unique to choosing a document management or transaction management solution.

  • First, let's look at general questions you'll want to ask.
  • What are my objectives for this piece of technology and will this product help me achieve those objectives?
  • What is my budget?
  • Does my broker, MLS, or Association have any agreements with any vendors that might help me obtain this product at a discount or for free?
  • Does this product work with my current computer operating system?
  • What kind of customer service and training programs are available? Are there webinars and, if so, are they recorded so you can view them at any time? Is the vendor's online help sufficient? What are the telephone support hours?
  • Is this technology Web-based? If it is, how much functionality will be available when the tool is being used offline.
  • Will it work on my iPad or other mobile device?

After you've asked and answered these questions, you can get down to the document management and transaction management-specific questions:

  • What is offered by my broker, MLS or Association? We mentioned this briefly above, but it's particularly relevant here. Your broker may work with a Transaction Coordinator and you'll want to be using the same solution they're using – it will make things easier for you and for them. The more people that use the same solution, the more effective it can be.
  • Do I want a transaction management tool, document management tool, or forms management tool?
  • Will this product "talk to" or work with the products I already use for CRM, electronic signature, forms, etc.?
  • Can I pull property information from my MLS into this document management or transaction management solution?
  • Are the documents encrypted? Are there any security guarantees? Will the vendor manage the legal notification requirements in the event of a security breach where consumer information is compromised?
  • Does your E & O insurance provider offer a discount for using the product?
  • Does the product have a digital signature solution included or will it work with the solution you're already using?

Your Options

For more information on these options, download our 2013 Technology Guide2013 Technology Guide. Here are several leading companies that offer transaction and/or document management solutions for real estate.

  • Cartavi: a cloud-based solution for sharing documents and information among all the parties to a transaction – whether they're on their desktop computer or using a mobile device.
  • CoreLogic: choose CoreLogic's Document Manager, Transaction Manager, and/or Fax Manager – all with an intuitive interface and other features that help you get the job done with superior customer service.
  • Instanet Solutions: whether you're looking for a document management solution or a start-to-finish integrated transaction solution, Instanet has you covered with DocBox, InstanetFax, InstanetForms, and Transaction Desk.
  • myShortTrack: cloud-based and paperless, myShortTrack connects all parties to a transaction with controls that allow you to define what they see. This transaction management solution becomes your one stop for emails, documents, tasks, notes and activity.
  • PropertyInfo CorporationSureClose enables you to manage documents and transactions from any Internet-enabled device. The solution is also integrated with a variety of other popular solutions for more effective workflow (including zipForms, DocuSign, Top Producer, and Lone Wolf).
  • Sequent SystemsEZ Coordinator is more than transaction management. The solution, which includes a CRM, is built to support moving leads more effectively from introduction to a completed transaction.
  • zipLogixzipForm is a forms management solution with a document management component. It allows real estate agents to digitally complete the forms as well as share and store the completed forms.

Next Steps

Other articles of interest: Settlement Room by Emphasys | Track My File