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Checklist: Going Digital

October 27 2013

go sign"Digital" is an often used, frequently misunderstood term. In the case of real estate professionals, "going digital" can easily be replaced with "going paperless." It describes the transition of business functions from antiquated techniques (like filing cabinets and ballpoint pens) to modern computer technology.

Are you ready to make this transition? We'll provide a checklist of the key tools you'll need. Before we do, let's have a little reality check. Your business will not be completely, 100% paperless – at least, not in the foreseeable future. There will be some documents and marketing collateral that you simply must put on a piece of paper. Your goal should be to aim for maximum paper reduction to honor the planet, reduce expenses, save time, and allow you to make more money selling real estate.

The Checklist

This checklist may not be inclusive, but it's a great place to start. These are the tools that can help you ditch the printer.

1. Electronic Signatures. The biggest offender for paper waste in real estate is contracts. With the multiple versions that most transactions go through, the number of pages printed can be truly terrifying. Thankfully electronic signature providers like DocuSign have digitized this process. Their technology has become incredibly advanced, offering remarkable functionality with an ease-of-use that surpasses even pen-to-paper signatures. With the addition of a mobile app like the DocuSign mobile app, you have your documents and forms with you no matter where you go, helping you close deals more quickly and conveniently.

2. Document Management with Electronic Fax. The next link in your paperless chain should be document management. Some document management tools integrate with DocuSign or other electronic signature solutions for an even more seamless paperless workflow. Cartavi is an excellent example of a document management solution with DocuSign integration. Your document management tool helps to store, share, and track the status of documents. An essential component of a document management tool should be electronic fax, so that you can send or receive documents without printing them. If electronic fax is a component of your document management solution, the faxed document can be easily "filed" with the appropriate transaction.

3. Transaction Management. These tools manage the parties, tasks, and (to some degree) documents associated with a transaction. This is a category where there is frequently overlap and/or integration with electronic signatures, document management, and CRM. A transaction management tool should function as a central hub, to help you organize your workflow and make sure that the transaction is completed without a hitch.

4. CRM. It's time to throw away your little black book. These days, you have a much better option: a CRM. Not only does your CRM store contacts, it should provide tools to help you maintain relationships with these people.

5. Online Marketing. Agent websites, single property websites, virtual tours, social media, email marketing, listing syndication, listing enhancements on third party portals, and more – these are just a few of the tasks that fall under the umbrella of online marketing. There's so much you can do to market yourself and your listings without sending a single postcard via snail mail.

6. Mobile Device. Whether it's an iPad or another tablet, you need an Internet-enabled mobile device. There are a multitude of apps available for tablets, including apps for some of your favorite tools like DocuSign, Cartavi, and more.

7. Scanner. This should be a no-brainer. You'll need a scanner to convert all your old paper files to digital files. Your document management solution should have a slick feature for quickly saving and categorizing the scanned documents. You'll probably also need several days and a nice bottle of wine, or a bouquet and spa gift certificate for your administrative assistant.

What have we missed? Are there tools that you've found essential in your paperless transition? Please comment below and share your advice with your peers.