On June 1st, 2019 I gave up my love/hate relationship with my report writing template.
For more than 15 years I had been building and maintaining my template in Microsoft Excel. I had written many macros, created thousands of links, and written thousands of narratives.
While a thing of beauty, and impressive in what it could do, speed was not one of its qualities. It became a way to do reports that was incredibly detailed and provided a process that made it difficult for me to miss stuff. It really covered my back-side well, but it was a laborious process that I would not wish on anyone.
Around the first of June I hurt my back in a crawlspace, and I decided to take a break from inspecting and focus on moving my excel template into ScribeWare. Anyone that has ever changed software programs knows what a pain in the ass this endeavor is. For me it took about 30, 12 hour days, just to get to the point where I could start to make the information fully functional in ScribeWare.
No software company makes this easy for obvious reasons and I was intent on not just carrying over all my language, but I also wanted to replicate the process that I loved in my old system. This involved a radical customization of the template as well as importing thousands of narratives.
Before you pick ANY software, you best do your homework.
The hundreds and eventually thousands of hours you spend building your narrative library, and other customization of your software, will mostly be for naught when you want to make a change.
EVERYONE will tell you their software is the best, so be careful listening to other inspectors, EVEN ME.
After we spend hundreds of hours building something, why would we ever admit we made a mistake? Each inspector can know the truth, but unfortunately there is no way for the rest of us to know the truth.
It is probably more accurate to state that NO software is the best, and the best ones are ones that are in process of getting better. Some meet these criteria, most do not.
An inspector’s business model will have a huge impact on what they consider the best. Are we to believe the inspector that says their software is the best because it allows them to create 20 page reports? If you are asking, “what is wrong with a 20 page report,” regardless of software, we may not be able to have any discussion at all.
Ask yourself what you want from a software, and then look at them and see which one can get you there the best. (need more help on this list)
- Does it have to be able to allow you to do your inspections on site?
- Does it sequence and present the information you gather in a clear way?
- Does it have to have a super functional app?
- Does the app need an internet connection to input data?
- How customizable is the general information areas of the report?
- How important are pictures, videos and supporting diagrams?
- How important are canned narratives?
- How easy is it to find, edit and use those narratives?
- Does it have to handle your contracts?
- Does it have to handle scheduling?
- Does it have to handle follow up?
- Does it have to interact with agents?
- Do you want HTML? PDF? Both?
- Cloud storage?
- If the internet goes down can you still work on your report?
For my own business model, some of these things I could care less about, but for other inspectors some of the things that I do not care about would be deal breakers for them.
I think the following are things every inspector “should” care about when selected software:
- how the report looks
- how interactive and functional is it for the client
- how it supports building narratives
- how images/diagrams can be made to interact with those narratives
- how easy it is to pull up your canned narratives?
- How easy is it to insert pictures (do you have to go create and hunt for jpegs or can you merely copy and paste directly from anywhere?)
As an instructor, I have seen most if not all of the report software available and have spent time playing with many of them to see if they would suit my needs.
No other software I have tried even came close!
There is currently no software available that allows the inspector to do what Excel can do with pictures right in the template/software. None. Anyone that says otherwise just does not know how powerful Excel is.
There was absolutely NO software available that allows the inspector to customize the software to the levels I could in Excel.
But now there is ScribeWare.
ScribeWare allows the inspector to be as shallow or as deep as the user’s business model requires. ScribeWare, working in conjunction with PowerPoint for pictures, creates the most powerful report writing software I am aware of.
If you are looking for ways to set yourself apart, ScribeWare can certainly be part of that plan, and in the process elevate both the individual inspector and the whole profession. The later part of this, is something that I do not ever see being discussed. Does the software we use, elevate the profession and provide better information to our clients? Or, are we only interested in what works for ourselves? If one of your primary concerns is whether the software will allow you to get to that fourth inspection of the day, I have no clue. This is certainly of no interest to me or my clients.
ScribeWare has cut my report writing time in half, but more importantly it allows me to create a better looking report, with a template designed to not allow me to miss things, because I was able to replicate my Excel process in ScribeWare. This amounts to liability reduction while continuing to grow my business based simply on the quality of my report.
ScribeWare also comes with all my inspection diagrams.
Check out this video of a simple tour of a small section in ScribeWare to get a glimpse of how powerful it is. It is best viewed on a real computer on full screen view.
Please keep in mind, this is my use of ScribeWare “on steroids.” Most inspection reports do not go into this level of detail, but I can tell you, the more detail, the lower the liability. The point being, the software can be tailored to your own needs better than any other software I am aware of.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle