First, let's discuss tract-based systems. A tract-based system is one that bases its data entry on...you guessed it...tracts of land. You create the tract and then enter information relating to that tract like contracts and parties. This may work for some, but there are some inherent problems that come with this.
As most landmen know, a contract and a mineral owner (party) can be associated with multiple tracts of land. If Mrs. Jane Smith owns four tracts of land in your project area, this means that the contract and party information must be recreated for each of the four tracts in the system. Needless to say, the amount of time lost due to repetitive data entry can add up quickly.
Now let's talk about a realm-based system. A realm-based system is a system that is not hierarchical in nature in that all "realms" are entered independently. A realm is defined as a tract, party, contract, unit, well, or instrument. So what this means is that an item can be created in any one of these realms independently, then attached to the other realms as appropriate.
To make this a bit clearer, let's look at the Jane Smith example again. Mrs. Smith has mineral interest in four tracts of land, so how do we manage this in the system? You can create the four tracts, and then create the party profile for Mrs. Smith, then the contract information. Once this is done, simply click the attach button on the appropriate tract, and voila, everything is where it should be. Every item was entered only one time.
When making your choice for a land-management system, be sure to keep these things in mind. An efficiently managed project is an effectively managed project.