You may be tempted to move all of your HOA’s records and data into the cloud to go paperless and more easily share information. But what are the risks?
HOAs, like any functioning business, are smart to assess their strategies for maintaining records and sensitive data. New developments like cloud storage have made these efforts a bit easier, as records can be instantly accessed from anywhere. But there are risks to using the cloud as well, especially for more sensitive data. As a key decision-maker for your HOA, consider these pros and cons of cloud storage before moving forward.
Pros of cloud storage for your HOA
There are many benefits of moving your HOA files over to the cloud, including these:
- Convenience, accessibility, and mobility: Files stored in the cloud can be accessed from anywhere, anytime, as long as you have an internet connection. This helps the HOA board and manager stay abreast to what’s going on, and it helps everyone make a collective decision — even when a member is traveling or remote. The cloud allows the entire team to be able to update documents in real-time, and often records can be backed up and stored automatically.
- Cost savings: Operating costs can be reduced with cloud storage, as it will likely cost your HOA much less to store records this way than engaging an IT expert to manage data storage. You won’t have to pay for licenses and updates that come with certain kinds of software since these aspects are usually included in the price you pay for storage.
- Completes your disaster recovery plan: Even if files aren’t exclusively stored in the cloud, it can be used to store copies of files to create a more complete backup plan, especially for more important documents. Having more than one copy of these files backed up can help if you need to recover from a disaster.
- You pay for what you need: With cloud storage, you can usually choose the amount of storage you need, so you’re not overpaying for storage you’re not using. And you can increase the amount you pay for if your needs change.
Cons of cloud storage for your HOA
As with any new technology, there are also cons to consider. Think through these potential issues with cloud storage:
- Security concerns: Probably the biggest concern about cloud storage is whether or not it’s completely secure. You are essentially allowing a third-party service provider to store sensitive information about your HOA, which could put it at risk. In addition, cloud storage could be more susceptible to hacking, and documents could be altered or deleted.
- Sometimes cloud storage isn’t enough: Because of the aforementioned vulnerabilities of cloud storage, it’s a good idea to hold onto multiple copies of certain documents. These include contracts that are still in effect and HOA governing documents like the CC&Rs. Sometimes it may be necessary to have the original copies of these documents.
- Migration to another cloud vendor: Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a challenge to migrate data from one cloud vendor to another. This is called vendor lock-in and often has to do with proprietary aspects of a vendor’s service that can’t be transferred to another vendor.
- Customization may be lacking: By paying for a cloud storage service, you may not have as much control over the overall setup and storage structure as you would with other data solutions.
Should you move to the cloud?
Going paperless is something many businesses across the globe are attempting and, sometimes, implementing fully and effectively. But should you go full-on cloud storage for your HOA?
The answer is, a successful data storage plan may require a combination of both cloud storage and onsite storage. Of course, some documents and data are more sensitive than others and may require an entirely separate plan. As previously mentioned, it’s a good idea to keeps certain physical documents on hand, like contracts and your HOA governing documents.
The first step to creating a strategy that works for your HOA is understanding the costs and the risks of cloud storage. Then, you can take advantage of the accessibility benefits with the knowledge necessary to do so effectively.
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