End-to-End Real Estate Document Management with REALTY|share

United Properties Implements End-to-End Real Estate Document Management with REALTY|share

Introduction

As an award-winning commercial real estate investment and development firm, the company had more than 100 years of business experience—and a keen awareness of what it took to manage its real estate document flow. After selecting Arcuity’s REALTY|share real estate portal platform and working closely with Arcuity consultants to customize it to their needs, United Properties couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.

A Careful Search Begins

United Properties began its search in the same way it seeks out new properties for its portfolio—with thorough evaluation. To assist in the effort, it hired a consulting company out of Dallas to identify its document needs, scope what the system might look like, and advise United Properties on a candidate.

The consultants recommended cloud-based SharePoint Online through Microsoft Office 365. United Properties accepted the recommendation, and the quest was on for a highly qualified SharePoint for Office 365 partner. “We were a bit unique in that we already had a document management system from our SharePoint 2010 implementation,” says United Properties IT Director Kevin Powell. “We were looking not just to replace our previous system, but also to evolve our document practice and have centralized quality control.”

“We had seen the REALTY|share solution at Realcomm and spoken with Anthony , so we asked for a demo,” Powell continues. “We were impressed with the base platform—it looked pretty familiar to our current solution and had some enhancements that we liked. It had 90 percent of what we wanted, and Arcuity’s team was ready to help customize it and make it our own.”

Achieving A Transformative Outcome

To develop the final solution, the Arcuity team worked closely with United Properties, exploring their current and future requirements before proposing the customized solution. To attain United Properties’ goals, the platform—and the implementation—would be complex. Because it involved the exchange of proprietary information, significant governance and change management would also be required.

Information related to properties and tenants would flow directly from United Properties’ accounting system into REALTY|share, where the platform would read specialized metatags, applied by the accounting system, and automatically create new records or update existing ones.

After import, the records would be fully searchable within the platform, enabling users to find any information they needed, quickly and easily. The system would also upload monthly financial reports from the accounting system, scan documents (OCR), run nightly lease abstracts, and more. “The new platform performed about 44,000 jobs in the first six weeks it was online,” Powell reports.

Conclusion

REALTY|share has transformed the way that United Properties handles its document management. It automatically decodes Document IDs applied by accounting, applies embedded metadata, titles the documents and routes them to the correct property site and library. A full complement of intelligent reports can be generated, as well, on demand or on a schedule.


Migrating 3.5 TB of Data to Microsoft 365 for Increased Collaboration at Jamestown

Jamestown Migrates 3.5 TB of Data, Leveraging REALTY|share for Increased Collaboration

Overview

With a relationship spanning over a decade, Jamestown knew they had a trusted partner in Arcuity when they decided to move their 3.5 TB of data from SharePoint 2010 to Microsoft 365. Manager of Projects and Applications for Jamestown, Heather Joyce, said about the latest collaboration, “It was very helpful that Arcuity knew real estate. Part of the success so far has been that we didn’t have to educate our implementation team on real estate terminology. That has been a tremendous help to get us going much faster than we otherwise would have.” With the end of Extended Support for SharePoint 2010—October 13, 2020— less than a year away from project kickoff, the ability to get going fast was particularly crucial for this project.

Designing for the Future

Before deciding that Microsoft 365 was the right fit, the Jamestown team investigated another content management system as an alternative to SharePoint 2010. However, due to system differences, it would have required a complete revamp of their Document Management System (DMS) to make it work, and so it did not make it out of the design phase. Unsure what their options were, Jamestown turned to longtime partner, Arcuity, for clarity regarding their next move for this business-critical enterprise system. Recognizing that Jamestown owned the Microsoft 365 platform, Arcuity recommended that they maximize their current cloud investment and move the DMS to Microsoft 365. Jamestown agreed and the two teams began designing the updated solution, which would be named DMS365. According to Joyce, “DMS365 has been an easier design phase than the other system we investigated, partly because Arcuity knows us so well.” Joyce continued, “They know the Jamestown culture, they know the Jamestown environment, and our technology. They understand how we work because they have been with us for so long.”

Accommodating for the large volume of data to be migrated and the immovable deadline of October 2020 meant the project would require a phased approach. With guidance from the Arcuity team, the migration project was defined as two main parts:

    • Phase 1—to be completed by October 2020—would follow a “lift-and-shift” tactic to migrate the full 3.5 TB of data onto the Microsoft 365 platform.
    • Phase 2—to be completed after October 2020—would tackle the task of adapting from a folder structure to a meta data-centric design.

Throughout Phase 1, Jamestown was careful to avoid any design path that was short-sighted or would limit their options later in the project, while also staying on track to meet the critical timeline. Joyce reflected on the role that Arcuity played in those decisions, “It’s a constant question and answer between the Jamestown team and the Arcuity team; ‘If we do this, is it going to delay October 2020?’ If the answer is ‘Yes, it’s going to delay’, then the question becomes ‘If we don’t do it, are we going to limit ourselves in the future?’” Joyce continued, “It’s a constant double-checking to the deadline how much design change occurs in this first phase.”

Jamestown Senior Project Manager Cindy Bordas added, “Arcuity has such attention to detail and is always on top of things. That makes it easier on us, keeps us honest, and focused. The migration path was also very well thought out the volume of data that’s getting migrated over.”

 
 
 

Microsoft 365 in Action

Features of the new DMS365 include:

  • Site collections are leveraged instead of subsites for a simplified hierarchy and security structure.
  • Admin Portal provides a streamlined site provisioning experience for DMS Admins with all tools to create sites, update templates, move items, and more.
  • Joint Venture Portal allows for Property Managers and Property Accountants to access a single site page where content is dynamically served up based on roles to show relevant information for each user.
  • New Tenant structure allows users to save documents in a centralized location.
  • Master list of assets replaces an Excel spreadsheet for storing role information for all assets. Leveraging Azure Active Directory allows users to update data in one location, and changes are reflected across the DMS.

Microsoft 365 brings a “Modern” Experience and Enhanced Security to Real Estate Services and Investment Firm

Microsoft 365 brings a “Modern” Experience and Enhanced Security

Overview

Years after the initial implementation of a cloud-based portal, Arcuity’s customer was looking to improve collaboration further within their Microsoft 365 tenant. Arcuity was brought in to design and implement a new security model as well as determine additional Microsoft 365 tools—available with their current licensing—that could be leveraged to drive toward increased efficiency.

A New, Dynamic Security Model

As part of this effort, Arcuity led several workshops with key customer stakeholders to understand their evolving needs and pain points around managing access and security across Microsoft 365. Coming out of these workshops, Arcuity recommended updating the security model to leverage Azure Active Directory, which allowed the creation of dynamic user groups based on logic and user profile attributes, such as location and title. These new dynamic groups were used to manage security on corporate policies as well as security within their SharePoint Online instance and all tools across their Microsoft 365 tenant.

The Modern Approach to Collaboration

As a Microsoft Gold partner, Arcuity learned that Microsoft would be transitioning all SharePoint classic team sites to the new modern UI. With this advanced knowledge, we made the recommendation to our customer to proactively update all sites to the modern UI while also introducing Microsoft Teams to provide additional collaboration features. With Azure Active Directory groups serving as the underlying security structure, the Microsoft Teams implementation included new collaboration channels for all Property sites, nine Department teams, and six Regions—with effortless and endless possibilities for scalability.

Collaboration to Support a Remote Workforce

Arcuity was already underway with this project when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in early 2020 and forced the world to shift to a remote workforce seemingly overnight. Microsoft Teams was the perfect tool to enable remote work and collaboration, and with the updated security model driving access, the customer was able to keep teams operating at a high level under rapidly changing circumstances.

While the focus of this project was to optimize the customer’s Microsoft 365 tenant for internal collaboration and communication, the next effort is already in progress to apply a similar experience to the customer’s Investor Portal—a secure portal for external property investors to access tax documents, property revenue reports, and other financial information across different portfolios.

Arcuity Builds Secure Real Estate Investor Portal for Decron Properties; Streamlines Document Control

Decron Implements REALTY|share for Secure Real Estate Investor Portal and Streamlined Document Control

Overview

When Decron Properties sought to replace an overloaded document management system and update its file share to a meta-data-based structure, firm management found a responsive partner in Arcuity. The resulting effort equipped them not only with robust document management, oversight and security but also with a world-class Investor Portal. “Arcuity helped us take a very manual process to an automated one with extreme efficiency”, management reports.

An Important Initiative Begins

Prior to connecting with Arcuity for this project, Decron Properties examined solutions from a variety of vendors, but nothing met their needs. “We looked at solutions from law-firm platforms to Dropbox and Citrix,” says Decron Executive VP Zev Nagel. “We wanted something malleable that we could customize and that wouldn’t cost a fortune, but nothing fit—solutions were either too complicated or didn’t have the security controls we wanted.” Increasing his frustration, says Nagel, were the vendor representatives. “They wanted to reinvent the wheel—and their software gurus tried to tell us what we needed, which drove us nuts.”

Challenge:
Equip the client with advanced, secure document management and investor update capabilities.

Solution:
Migrate a legacy, folder-based file share currently in daily use to the latest SharePoint and REALTY|share technologies; build a powerful, custom Investor Portal.

Results:
Arcuity designed, deployed and launched the solution while company workers were simultaneously working in the file share, streamlining workflow and sharply reducing cyber-risk.

A Meeting Of Kindred Spirits

Nagel’s outlook changed when he ran into Arcuity’s Executive Director Kevin Abel at Realcomm. “We had a ‘kindred spirit’ conversation about sharing and collaboration,” says Nagel. “I was drawn to what had built.”

“Their experience in the commercial realty space also impressed us,” Nagel continues. “During subsequent discussions, the team listened to us—they wanted to hear our needs.” After working closely with Decron Properties’ stakeholders, a final solution was developed and approved by management.

An Important Initiative Begins

Initially, the project scope was to update Decron Properties’ REALTY|share and SharePoint installations, but it was expanded to include a custom Investor Portal, integrated with a document storage archive to provide investors with on-demand access to property-related documents, images and other materials. Features of the Investor Portal are extensive:

  • Each investment entity has its own document library, accessed through a user-friendly interface.
  • The investor (or its proxies) can run queries by report, document type, and more, retrieving financial statements, reports, and other documents by property or entity.
  • When the Decron Properties Administrator uploads new documents to the file share, SharePoint reads meta tags in the documents and automatically makes associations. The system automatically pushes documents to the appropriate investors’ secure folders.
  • When a property is added to REALTY|share, the system automatically updates the listing in the investor portal, giving the administrator the ability to tag documents with the new property seamlessly.
  • Administrators have the ability to add financial reports and key general documents to multiple investors at the same time by a click of a button.