Case Study: NTREIS leverages the iPad and SAFE Mobile to redesign business practices

Owned by 15 REALTOR© Associations, North Texas Real Estate Information Systems, Inc. (NTREIS) is an IT company providing real estate information storage and retrieval services to 25,000 subscribers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metropolitan area and surrounding counties of North Texas.

CFO John Robert Pharr was looking to improve the custody of contract and transaction documentation, reduce storage costs, speed recovery of information and better manage the cost of the company’s annual audits. Additionally, he had a primary need for portability. Being out of the office for extended periods of time, he wanted to stay connected at work, but also be able to make on screen presentations at offsite board and shareholder meetings.

Lean and Mean

Pharr came across an electronic document management solution by Cabinet called SAFE at a QuickBooks show in Phoenix, AZ. SAFE can store and manage virtually any document format with its client/server architecture, flexible security, workflow management, and activity tracking. After seeing the seamless and cost effective integration between Quick-Books and SAFE, Pharr was sold.

Pharr says that both SAFE and the iPad are changing the way he does business. “While SAFE helps manage our files and scales with our business growth, the iPad adds an additional convenience that I didn’t have with my laptop. “All of my documents in SAFE are easily accessible and viewable on my iPad, and while I do enjoy coming into the office and seeing a less cluttered office, I no longer feel tied to my desk.”

“With SAFE, we reduced the time auditors spend in our offices each year from three weeks to four or five days simply by giving them controlled remote access to SAFE and Quick-Books,” said Pharr. “We no longer spend hours of unproductive time finding and re-filing paper documentation for the auditors. Now, they find what they need themselves, and in many cases, they find that information from their office, which saves travel time and expense. It’s a win-win for both sides.”

Pharr says that computer memory is cheaper, faster and safer than filing space in downtown office buildings which can run as much as $30 per square foot in downtown Dallas. Years ago, Pharr spent $60,000 rebuilding paper files damaged by smoke and water from a fire in the company suite. More recently, the company had a water pipe break in their filing room. Luckily, they were in the middle of transitioning their documents over to SAFE, which meant that most of their files were already entered into the new system.

Rather than spending money to recover damaged documents, they were able to toss most of the files and turn the extra space into a more useful computer lab. “Our filing room is about a tenth the size of the one we had before and now, with daily off-site backup, we never worry about damaging or losing files,” said Pharr.

Using the iPad for Business

For many years, Pharr was using a laptop as his main computer so that he would be able to work remotely from home or on the road. Unfortunately, the need for more power and larger screens led to bigger and heavier laptops that were not nearly as fast or stable as comparable desktop computers. “There began to be a trade-off between portability on the one hand and stability and speed on the other,” said Pharr.

“With SAFE, we reduced the time auditors spend in our offices each year from three weeks to four or five days simply by giving them controlled remote access to SAFE and Quick-Books,” said Pharr. “We no longer spend hours of unproductive time finding and re-filing paper documentation for the auditors.

However, with the advent of terminal service software for Windows operating systems and low cost, high speed Wi-Fi services, the need for carrying heavy laptops was greatly diminished. Pharr soon discovered, that with an iPad, Wi-Fi and terminal server software, he could do almost everything remotely that could be done with a laptop, but now with a more portable and powerful device. This included accessing his documents safely and remotely through SAFE.

“The first thing I tested was how well the iPad worked with the terminal server application. Next, I looked at QuickBooks and SAFE from my office desktop, since that’s where the vast majority of my business intelligence is located. I was thrilled to see how easy it all came together and worked,” said Pharr.

Pharr uses the iPad for communications, information retrieval and board and shareholder presentations. He has instant access to the information needed to provide service and value to his entire business network. “Most of the heavy lifting is done in the office where I have all the tools and resources I need at my fingertips. When I can’t be in the office, I’m still available to do a good bit of problem solving with the iPad that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” said Pharr. “Plus, women are attracted to guys with iPads.”

Out With the Old, In With the New

Pharr says that both SAFE and the iPad are changing the way he does business. “While SAFE helps manage our files and scales with our business growth, the iPad adds an additional convenience that I didn’t have with my laptop. “All of my documents in SAFE are easily accessible and viewable on my iPad, and while I do enjoy coming into the office and seeing a less cluttered office, I no longer feel tied to my desk.”

“All of my documents in SAFE are easily accessible and viewable on my iPad, and while I do enjoy coming into the office and seeing a less cluttered office, I no longer feel tied to my desk.”

As the iPad becomes a trusted resource in all businesses and industries, Pharr expects that Real Estate professionals will take advantage of the tablet. “We can expect to see Realtors using the iPad to gather new listing information on site, email listings and brochures to their clients, pull up listings in real-time during showings, access multiple listing sites and manage these listings and client documents on the go.

“Staying in business today is a never ending battle for doing it better, faster and cheaper than the competition. There’s going to be rapid adapters and reluctant adapters when it comes to new technology,” said Pharr. “If you can streamline your business, provide faster and more efficient service to your clients, improve workflow and the understanding of what you’re doing, you’re already in higher demand.”

Want to learn what SAFE document management software can do for your business? Schedule a customized, no-strings-attached demo today.