The year is 2016. The world is full of incredible technology – small drones that can deliver burritos or crash into Condos, smart devices which allow us to send selfies to the entire world, and self-driving and electric cars. With such incredible technological capabilities, it is crazy that many Condo Associations and HOAs are still stuck using paper or only email to communicate with Owners. It is time to use technology to enhance outreach and collaboration in a Condo Association.
Why Use Technology to Enhance Outreach and Collaboration in a Condo Association?
Being open about how an Association does business is a key aspect to enhance transparency and fight apathy. Technology becomes a powerful tool for enhancing how meetings are captured, documents are stored, and most importantly, records of Association actions easily and rapidly retrieved by Condo Association Owners. Technology tools which allow you to disseminate more information to Owners is a good thing for your Association.
Social media – such as Facebook, Twitter, or even old-school message boards, etc. – are excellent tools for communication, outreach, and community building among your Owners. There are also specialized platforms, like Glady, which focus on HOAs. They can be used to promote meetings and social events, send maintenance reminders and answer questions. The benefits of social media is that it is fast and easy to use, and it has relatively high adoption among many demographics. However, because it is relatively unsecured, it is not a good tool for sharing items like meeting minutes or other documents that should be somewhat restricted. Use social media for non-sensitive items and to build a sense of community within your Association.
Document Collaboration and Online Storage
Another fantastic innovation is the use of file-sharing services to make document sharing and collaboration easier than ever. Google Docs, Slack, Dropbox, and Box all make document sharing and collaboration a breeze. These tools make it very easy to store things like meeting minutes, regulations, and Bylaws for Owners to easily and rapidly access.
These same tools also make it very easy for a Board and Management to collaborate on documents such as new proposed rules or letters to Owners. Similarly important, they allow a Board to make sure they are keeping record of Association business in a more permanent manner. This creates an “institutional memory” that ensures that when a Board member leaves, new Board members don’t have to start from scratch. Creating digital repositories that are easily searchable is far easier than stacks of paper as in the old days.
Just remember – practice basic cyber security and ensure that sensitive documents are protected appropriately. Change passwords so former employees or Board members can’t access documents, and use two-factor authentication and other credential management technologies when appropriate.
Professional HOA or Condo Association Software
There are a number of professional software suites tailored for HOA or Condo Associations to assist in their management. These packages typically include tools for both Management and self-managed Associations. They include features like financial management systems, maintenance tracking systems, record keeping systems, etc. These tools can be particularly helpful for self-managed Associations. Examples of software packages include TOPS , Condo Manager, Association Voice and others.
Video and Audio Teleconferencing
Take a look around your desk area – or mobile device – where you’re reading this article right now. I can almost guarantee there’s a camera either on your phone, built into your laptop, or free-standing nearby. Technology makes access even easier. Forward-thinking Boards can consider video or audio teleconferencing their monthly Board meetings to help boost participation and engagement, or give investment Owners a way to easily communicate. Many services allow for individualized access codes to ensure a reasonable level of security for attendees.
Ditch the Paper, Embrace the Technology
Technology for technology’s sake is not enough. However, there are indisputable benefits to Owners, the Board and Management for embracing technology to enhance outreach and collaboration in a Condo Association. While not all of these solutions are applicable for all communities, you can mix and match and bring greater transparency and openness to your Association.