DATAPROMPTER 2010 and THE APPRAISAL STANDARD Most commercial appraisers spend an extensive amount of time communicating the findings of their research and analysis. Any gains in the efficiency of their processes can go a long way in insuring the appraiser始s competitive edge. One product several close friends have encouraged me to investigate is DataPrompter 2010tm. Each of these appraisers felt strongly that DataPrompter is a perfect fit for what we do every day and a great candidate for a Cool Tools review. As many may know, several products are available to help real estate appraisers improve their narrative report writing processes. Each product offers a variety of features to help improve efficiencies; however, most are rigidly structured to meet a specific report flow centered on communicating the data and analysis developed through the traditional appraisal process. DataPrompter 2010 provides the user complete control over the design of the reporting process, and offers appraisers the ability to build any number of integrated documents. The software is easy to learn and implement, and sufficiently sophisticated for almost any reporting needs.
INITIAL SETUP Setting up DataPrompter involves a two step process. The first step involves imbedding tags that hold the place for the data to be imported into the appraisal report. Examples of these tags would include the date of the report, date of value, client name, site size, number of buildings, improvement square footage, value conclusions, and much more. The time necessary to complete this step can be drastically reduced by simply adding these tags to an existing report. The second step involves designing the Q&A that will be used to collect the data that will be merged with the skeleton report. DataPrompter makes this a simple and quick process. Both of these procedures need to be completed only once, and any changes to either of these procedures can be completed at any later time.
BASIC OPERATION The first step begins by opening the DataPrompter 2010 skeleton report. This is the skeleton report file with the embedded tags that will receive the data entered by the appraiser in the next step.
Figure 1: Example of the skeleton document, Improvement Analysis page before the data field tag for the “Other building areas” is added to the document. This will later show on the bottom two lines.
Figure 2: In this step the appraiser creates the multi-select list for the “Other building areas”. This list includes three options; Covered work area, Covered Storage area, and Canopy-covered area.
Figure 3: In this step the appraiser to inserts the field/tag named “Other building areas” into the Q&A. During the report writing process the appraiser will be able to select one of the three “Other Building areas” identified in Figure 2 along with their respective square footage(s).
Figure 4: Shows the tag inserted into the skeleton report titled “Other building areas”.
Figure 5: This is an example of the skeleton appraisal report with the imbedded tags revealed. In the second step, the appraiser loads the DataPrompter 2010 dialog box containing the questions that prompt the appraiser for the information that will be inserted into the skeleton report. In this stage the appraiser answers a variety of questions that were defined in the setup procedure. DataPrompter 2010 improves this process through the use of conditional statements, bullet and pick lists, and free form text comments. Editing of a previously written report or report skeleton is now replaced with answering direct questions or choosing data elements from pick lists or radio buttons. Writing the appraisal report is reduced to a more efficient process that eliminates the inefficient tasks and methods utilized by old school methods. It is most significant that the entire process is defined by the appraiser…simply a refinement of the process you are using today. Your clients will only notice improved turnarounds, more consistent reporting, and less erroneous information.
Figure 6: This is a sample of the Q&A that the appraiser completes before merging the selected information with the skeleton report. This process allows the appraiser to save time using pick lists, radio buttons, and text fields describing the various elements of the assignment and property.
Figure 7: View of a report after completing the merge process. One great benefit of this product is the personalized structure that is developed by the appraiser. Because writing of the report is reduced to various questions and answers using simple text entry or selection of predefined responses, a considerable amount of the non-value centric data entry can be completed by a paraappraiser or assistant. This allows the appraiser more time to focus on the value centric components of the report, which reduces costs and increases the volume of assignments that can be completed by a single appraiser. In addition, the Q&A forces the appraiser to address all issues in each section of the report, and redundant data need only be entered once. DataPrompter thus decreases the amount of data entry and improves the accuracy of the report. Never again, receive one of those calls asking you to explain the erroneous information remaining from a previous report. Once the data entry is complete, the appraiser instructs DataPrompter to execute the merge process and the report is then updated with the answers from the Q&A and the completed document is displayed for final review and edit in Microsoft Word.
FEATURE SUMMARY With DataPrompter 2010 appraisers have a large selection of features for automating the narrative report writing process. Get prompted where you want, when you want! Get prompted for short amounts of text, addresses, dates, multiple paragraphs of text. Choose from single or multi-line textboxes, dropdown lists, multi-select lists, and checkboxes. As an example, design your implementation to include pick lists and radio buttons to allow for quick selection of property elements in your site and improvements section. Convert existing documents to DataPrompter automatically. Automatically replace key words, phrases, text fields, bracketed text, or unmarked words or phrases with automated DataPrompter DataFields. It is always much easier to setup your DataPrompter skeleton document using an existing document instead of creating a new document from scratch. Pull contact data from Outlook or other MAPI-compliant default contact list
Gain instant access to your client information in the Outlook Contacts database. Lookup full or partial contact detail and post the information throughout entire document as needed. Set your data free, and never rekey data again! Use Word's powerful formatting capabilities to create professional reports and documents filled with data from external data sources. Import data from comparable databases and spreadsheet analytics (and from XML files if your version of Word is XML-enabled). Contextual help and built-in tutorial system As you work, get help in each dialog box by clicking the Help button or tutorial link. If you've got a question, the answer is just a click away. Compatible with Word 2000 SP1 through Word 2010 32-bit and 64-bit. DataPrompter 2010 works with Word 2000 SP1 and later, all the way up to Word 2010 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Integrated Spellchecker DataPrompter 2010's integrated spellchecker lets you check your data entries before each update. Easy-to-use conditional DataFields Switch pronouns from one gender to another, switch the number and/or tense of verbs, show or hide text based on checkboxes or other DataFields, and turn phrases on or off automatically. Format and content standards Lock users out from editing your standardized documents but prompt them for specific data and update the documents without losing control of format and content. This keeps your staff from accidentally modifying you skeleton appraisal report files. Intelligent Page Management Portrait and landscape pages, columns, section breaks, and headers and footers are automatically managed. Users can override the automatic settings when desired. Unlimited Reassembly Reassemble a document at any time, as often as desired. Add, delete, or change the order of boilerplate items as needed. No Content Limitations Boilerplate items can include anything from a few paragraphs describing the highest and best use principals to graphics to a complete appraisal report containing hundred pages of formatted
text, graphics, tables, or any other content of your choosing. Ultimate Document Portability Assembled DataPrompter documents are 100% standard Microsoft Word documents and can be viewed or edited by anyone with Microsoft Word.
ADVANCED OPERATION David Lakvold, SRA, MAI, appraiser and software developer, has created an add-on product for DataPrompter 2010 that removes most of the time in setting up the skeleton report and corresponding Q&A for the appraiser. Daveʼs product is written for the appraiser that does not have the time to build their own implementation of the DataPrompter. He takes on the responsibility of optimizing the DataPrompter 2010 application for you by monitoring all new developments and releasing new adaptations of The Appraisal Standard on an ongoing basis. More information on his product can be found at www.theappraisalstandard.com. An interview with Dave provided considerable insight into his use of DataPrompter. Dave explained how he saves significant time, and increases the flexibility of his automation by segmenting his analyzes and descriptions into smaller standardized components using the text fill-in or point and click box options. He also commented on the two types of data fields in DataPrompter. Standard data fields provide the answers about a specific analysis or description. Conditional data fields enable proper subject – verb agreement in a sentence structure. Combining conditional data fields with standard data fields creates a powerful document that addresses the appraiserʼs need to analyze and discuss the wide range of variables that exist in real property valuation. Using The Appraisal Standard, the site analysis and improvement analysis can be completed within minutes where the components are efficiently segmented. He also explains that automating the valuation sections reduces the possibility for errors and permits precise formatting of the presentation and numeric fields. He is most proud of his success in the automation of their right-of-way appraisal reports where they can complete a ʻbefore and afterʼ valuation of a single-family residence in less than four hours. He also noted that uncomplicated appraisal reports can be completed in respective timeframes, usually in less than a day. He notes that the key to successfully implementing DataPrompter centers on taking the time to analyze tasks that have a limited range of answers or are repetitive. As an example, he uses segmented clients, assessments, ownerships, and property histories. These subdocuments can be completed upon receiving the assignment or proper documentation and can be assembled into the primary document when it is time to produce a report. While there is a small learning curve to DataPrompter, once users have achieved even an intermediate level of understanding, productivity can be dramatically improved. In fact, most subdocuments can be completed by support staff that has little to no formal training allowing the
appraiser to focus on the value centric components of the appraisal process. From then on your efforts will pay off every day. All of the DataPrompter 2010 illustrations above are depictions of DataPrompter using Dave Lakvoldʼs add-on product, The Appraisal Standard.
CONCLUSION If you are in need of a report writing solution that is easy to integrate with your current report writing method and style, and simple to use try DataPrompter 2010. It is a low cost solution selling for just $179 per user or bulk users can purchase a ten user license for $1,199. Try it out risk free with their 30 day money back guarantee by downloading a copy at www.wordsite,com. If you are interested in eliminating the learning curve and design effort for DataPrompter 2010 check out Dave Lakvoldʼs product (The Appraisal Standard) at www.theappraisalstandard.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing. Both products are worthy of a 5 star rating.
R. Wayne Pugh, MAI, CRE …add the comment “He is also the author of the Cool Tool Blog at www.facebook.com” to my bio.