Less paper in property management

22. July 2021

The real estate sector uses many paper-based processes – from application to when a rental property is vacated. Our client has set out to change this.

Pressure to digitalise business processes increased as the duration of the Corona pandemic and the associated obligation to work from home increased. Our client, a company active in real estate management and project development, reacted to this by introducing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) as the basis of digital business processes. Our client’s focus was not on product evaluation but on implementation. Their parent company specified the conditions for the tools and service providers that would be used.


The project was divided into two main parts. On the one hand, the physical filing had to be completely digitised. This was referred to as initial scanning. On the other hand, the complete incoming mail had to be converted to digital. Both parts had in common that a uniform taxonomy should be used. Together with subject representatives, the taxonomy was defined, consisting of document types and categories as well as the file structure. The customer based the structure of the documents on the primary application used for the rental process of different types of properties.

To prepare for the project, existing files had already been prepared for the initial scanning. Cover sheets were used to assign each document to the relevant file. The file structure and the preparation of documents was one of the project’s sticking points. This was because the previous file structure was much less detailed but also because terminology had been established that did not always match the terminology in the new business application. However, with extensive training and expert on-site support during implementation this problem was solved.


To ensure that documents from existing files and new incoming documents could be found equally quickly, the taxonomy was trained in document reading. This meant that documents included in the initial scanning and those from digital incoming mail could be processed in the same way.

As it was not possible to introduce the new system in one go, initial scanning was divided into several phases. After each phase, findings were fed back in order to train the document reading software. This meant that automation could be increased with each phase. Also, the project started with small management units with less volume of paper, so that experience could be gained before a large volume of documents was processed at the end of the initial scanning phase.


Physical files were packed into sealed boxes and transported to the scanning centre. The framework conditions used for this process were taken from an archive migration from the Federal Ordinance on Company Accounts (GeBüV). The scanning of these files revealed

the management units that had correctly structured the files and identified documents that were no longer needed. The speed at which document digitisation and classification could take place increased depending on how well old documents were identified. Sorting out redundant documents is one of the main successes of this type of project.


As the initial scanning for the management units progressed, incoming mail was redirected to the scanning centre and was digitised there. From this point on, managers received mail only via electronic tasks in their digital inbox with one exception: tenancy agreements are still physically delivered to managers for their countersignature. This is because changing this would have increased costs and slowed down the process.

Since managers also need access to documents relevant to construction projects, a uniform solution available to everyone was needed. During extensive construction projects, many documents are created and have numerous different versions. In order for the project creators to maintain oversight, a uniform structure was created at ‚property‘ level in the form of so-called brackets. This structure is based on the standards of the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) and addresses the.project and management requirements. Both parties have access to all documents. This significantly increases cooperation.


Because of the pandemic all the project planning, including analysis, implementation, and the training of managers, was done from the home office – a model that can be used in the future if necessary. Despite the home office working, the project was implemented successfully and completed within the agreed time frame. Our client has taken a significant step towards having digital business processes. However, and this should be made clear, this was only the first step towards digitalising business processes. When this project has been completed, follow-up projects need to follow, and existing business processes need to be digitalised. We are happy to support our client with this as well.

Contact person:


Jürg Porro

Head Business Consulting & Healthcare