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My intention is not to start a new thread about which reporting system or format is the best. I know that it has been discussed ad nauseam, and seems to be a matter of preference anyway. This question is for those inspectors using InspectIt ReportPlus. For now this is what I have and intend to use. I am looking for any inside secrets or unique functions anyone has found in this program. What have you found to be very useful, and what have you just decided is not worth using? Also, I have the PDA software to accompany the desktop software. I want to know if any of you have found that it has been a good tool or more of a waste of time. Thanks advance for your advice, your training is invaluable.

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I’ve been using it for 6 years now and I can’t say there are any secrets to reveal. You might want to learn a few shortcuts to minimize scrolling and clicking otherwise it’s just plain old MS Word.

At the onset I customized the front page template, otherwise everything is original. http://www.scopehomeinspections.justser ... REPORT.pdf

The odometer reading on the Palm Software is less than 2 hours. It became too much of a distraction to go looking for little boxes on a tiny screen with every finding. If you’re alone it might be ok, but having your client(s) waiting on you while you fumble around with stuff you’re having difficulties finding in my view is unprofessional. I prefer a voice recorder and digital camera to document the house then I go back in the office and create the report, less stress.

Then there’s OfficePro……Let’s just say it’s a work in progress……..since 2000[:-taped]

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Slight drift here but it is relative to the software issue in general.

I went out on my first inspection with a PDA thinking it was going to guide me through and help me collect all the needed data. I'm not sure what went wrong but it was a train wreck. There were too many things on the program that were not directly related to the task at hand. I ended up abandoning the PDA.

One thing saved my ass and that was my digital camera. I went around the place for hours taking pictures of problems. When I got home I looked at the pictures, arranged them, and one by one dropped them into a word doc and started writing my own stuff based on the concept of "observe, concern, action".

I sweat many bullets but got it done. I never went back to the PDA. Maybe now that I have more experience I might be able to use a PDA system efficiently enough to get by.

Trust me, if you are new to it, have a back up plan ready just in case. Seriously, something like a printed check list on a clip board, a pencil and a digital camera. It wont hurt to have a contingency plan if the initial fails. Software could crap out or hardware could malfunction. You never know so be prepared. I would not promise to deliver the report on site. I never intend to do that but if you will, you'll need time to refine you methods in the real world before you can come close to delivering a decent product.

Here's a check list you could use if you want. Change it to your liking. I circle things and write notes in the blank spaces. The blue texts are material descriptions I must list according to NAHI and Maryland SOP.

Download Attachment: icon_word.gif NEW CHECKLIST-1.doc

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Thanks for all the input. I have been playing around with the PDA by entering different sample reports. As some of you have stated, it does seem to be a bit cumbersome to fill out. If it is a hassle entering data just sitting at my desk, I can imagine how that could be a major distraction on site. I do like the layout of the report. I will be losing the drop down descriptions, and focus on making the narrative unique to the house being inspected. I think AHIT basically sold me some overpriced word templates, but live and learn as they say.

Troy N. Pappas

"Thanks for the advice, your training is invaluable."

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One thing to check as well. Before I dumped it, I checked out every word of it. In mine, there was a page missing in the initial descriptions. Go through the first several pages, the ones that are default and you never change, there may be some info missing. When I called AHIT about, they were stunned as they didn't know. They promised me a call as soon as it was fixed. Over the next two months I called them several times, no fix. Almost 2 years later now, still no call and no program for me.

Proof read their template.

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. . . I am looking for any inside secrets or unique functions anyone has found in this program. What have you found to be very useful, and what have you just decided is not worth using? Also, I have the PDA software to accompany the desktop software. I want to know if any of you have found that it has been a good tool or more of a waste of time. Thanks advance for your advice, your training is invaluable.

I used ReportPlus for a very short time. It's a good program. (Intelligent Reporter is better though.) The best advice I can give you is to trim the boilerplate down to the stuff that you know you'll use frequently. Type custom comments for everything else. To do this well, learn the MS Word shortcuts. There are lots of them and they can save you a bunch of time.

You can never hit "Ctrl, s" too many times.

Since ReportPlus is really just MS Word, consider taking a class in Word from someplace like New Horizons. You'll be able to drive the car better if you really understand how the engine works.

Also, when Gary was still with the company, he used to do day-long training sessions that covered a lot of little tips & tricks. I don't know if AHIT has continued that practice.

- Jim Katen

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Been using it for 10 years. Works for me but a guy could be proficient with a crayon and poster board after 10 years. The pda thing sucks. I complete my reports onsite right from the countertop. I stopped annotating photo's years ago. I just drop several pics directly under the comments. A buying person reads the comment, looks at the picture, and says "oh yea I get it". If the Sesame Street approach is difficult than the buying person needs to just continue writing rent checks.

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I used ReportPlus for a very short time. It's a good program. (Intelligent Reporter is better though.)

Why do you find Intelligent Reporter better? It works off of Word so it should have the same features/limitations.

Also, when Gary was still with the company, he used to do day-long training sessions that covered a lot of little tips & tricks. I don't know if AHIT has continued that practice.

Now they have private lessons. Nick Carlson has taken Gary's spot. Nick is trying to push the software so it can do more but it has been a slow process (I think they have him in too many meetings). They do have a new version that just came out but there are some bugs that still need to be worked out. Once they have the bugs worked out, I will be upgrading to that version.

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My point is, decisions need to be made correctly and there are many to be made in the inspecting and reporting process. A newer inspector may feel rushed if he intends to deliver a report on site. Being rushed can lead to errors.

Get comfortable before making promises and have a back up plan.

That's my advice, 'cause I been there, done that. No matter how much mock practice you get in, the stage fright of reality is enough to throw you off your game. Hang tough and be prepared for the unexpected.

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I used ReportPlus for a very short time. It's a good program. (Intelligent Reporter is better though.)

Why do you find Intelligent Reporter better? It works off of Word so it should have the same features/limitations.

I shouldn't have characterized the program as better. A program is just a program, it is what it is. Both of those programs do what they're supposed to do. I find IR better for my needs. Others might find RP better for their needs.

While they're both layered on top of MS Word, they each take a different approach. RP is a more complex interface that tries to do a lot more for the user. Stuff like building sentences with mouse clicks. It also tends to insulate you from the actual MS Word program more than IR does. For some people, this is an advantage but for me it wasn't. I can compose a sentence in my head and type it faster than I can build one with mouse clicks. And when I'm done, I don't have to go back to edit the sentence because I want it to apply to two things instead of one or because the prewritten comment is not quite what I wanted to say.

RP is really good for people who aren't particularly facile with MS Word and who might not be very good typists. But for me, I found that it kept getting in the way of what I wanted to do. There were also several layout changes I wanted to make that weren't possible with RP but that were a snap with IR.

IR seems to be a less complex overlay. It guides you through the report and allows you to insert text and boilerplate in all the right places, but when you want it out of the way, you just snap your metaphorical fingers and it disappears while you just do what you want in Word - anything you want to do. Then, when you want it back, you just whistle and it comes back. It's simple and low key.

While I know that Troy didn't want to start another thread about different report systems, I'd like to point out that, if you're the type of person who likes the way that ReportPlus works, you really ought to check out Inspect Express. It's also built on MS Word with a highly evolved interface but it's more sophisticated

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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