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Best Practices for Document Management

The average employee spends hours each week searching for the information needed to do his or her job. This is especially true when it comes to managing multiple retail, restaurant and commercial leases where missing information can directly impact the bottom line.

Whether you’re a new Property Works client preparing information to send us, or are simply looking for ways to boost your overall efficiency, we’ve prepared the following best practices for document management so you can:

  • Track critical dates and deadlines
  • Ensure that everyone is working on the most current version of a document
  • Have information at your fingertips when you need it for important decisions

Following are the keys to effective document management:

  1. Document Naming Convention – The ability to quickly sort and locate documents requires a consistent naming convention. We suggest the following three pieces of information in the following order:
    • Location Identifier – The ability to sort documents by location is most important, so each property should be assigned a number. Property Works uses a seven-digit number, but smaller companies may choose to use four. Be sure to use the same number of digits for each location, adding zeros at the beginning, if necessary. For example, if you’re using a seven-digit system and are referring to store number 1052, write it as “0001052.”
    • Date – The date is important to keep document versions in order. Some type characters like slashes are not allowed in file names, so the optimal way to format a date is using dashes and the four-digit year, two digit-month and two-digit day. For example, a document created on May 7, 2016 should be labeled “2016-05-07.”
    • Brief Description of Document Content – Describe the content as briefly and consistently as possible. For example, if there are multiple amendments, they could be labeled “First Amendment,” “Second Amendment,” and so forth.

The file name for the examples provided above would be “0001052 – 2016-05-07 – Second Amendment.” It is important to note that Property Works uses spaces between the pieces of information to achieve better visual distinction. If your system does not allow for spaces in file names, consider using an underscore.

  1. Folder Structure – A logical electronic folder structure for categorizing documents is the best way to ensure that information can easily be retrieved, especially important later in the lifecycle when new people are involved in the process. When lease information is sent to Property Works, it’s often filed by date with no internal structure. Whether you’re preparing documents to send to Property Works or are setting up an in-house filing system, below is an optimal folder structure.
    • Lease-related documents (one folder per lease)
    • Occupancy Cost (CAM, insurance, real estate taxes, monthly statements, budget, escrow adjustments, etc.)
    • General Correspondence
    • Title Documents
    • Certificates of Insurance
    • Licenses and Permits
    • Facilities
    • Archive
  1. File Size – Saving files in the proper size and format is critically important when it comes to the ability to quickly search for information, as well as manage the storage capacity. Before scanning documents, photos and drawings to upload into folders, review Property Works’ requirements below.
    • Documents (leases, spreadsheets, budgets, maintenance agreements, licenses and permits, etc.) should be scanned and saved at 300 dpi so they are searchable and can be bookmarked.
    • Photographs should be scanned at 300 or 600 dpi (see below) and saved as JPEGs.
      • If photos do not contain added text or graphics, scan them at 300 dpi.
      • If photos do contain added text or graphics like arrows, scan them at 600 dpi.
    • Drawings (site plans, surveys, CAD drawings, as-builts, etc.) should be scanned and saved as PDFs. If your scanner will not save as a PDF, scan at 600 dpi.

Note re: most scanners have a default setting of 300 dpi. Be sure to check the dpi settings before you begin scanning.

By spending a little effort to establish and adhere to best practices for document management, a great deal of time and frustration can be saved over the life of the project. For more information about best practices for document management, contact your Property Works relationship manager.