Improvements coming to assignment management

Written by on April 2, 2015

One of our 2015 goals is to make our assignment management platform better. Specifically, we’ll give you more options for better control of orders and we’ll make it easier for your clients to integrate directly with our delivery tools. Long term, you’ll have fewer steps to go through. Appraisers that work with Mercury Network assignments will notice the first wave of these changes in the next few weeks. And to make these improvements, we'll need to take the servers offline starting at midnight next Friday night until noon on Saturday. (See the bottom of this post for more details.)

The first change you’ll see is in assignment status. You’ll be able to post internal status updates that are kept private and updates for your Mercury Network assignments that get sent to your clients.

Until now, when you've changed the status of a job, the notice was immediately sent to the client and updated internally. That's a problem when you don't want to communicate a message externally. Here are a few examples of statuses with commentary that come to mind:

  • “In Progress: County records pulled”
  • “Inspection Scheduled: Lender requests this as a rush order and agreed to rush fee”
  • “Delayed: Rainy weather and gate was locked”
  • “Inspection Complete: Will complete report Thursday evening after more urgent assignments”
  • “Revision Needed: Client called to ask that we use one more comp”

Those aren't messages you need your client to see. So, appraisers have asked us to separate internal status tracking features from status updates sent to clients. You'll see that enhancement in this release in the form of "Add Internal Status" and "Update Client." And we've meticulously designed the interface changes to make the transition easy with as few clicks as possible.

This is what you'll see in Mercury Desktop on April 11th when working with a Mercury Network assignment:

Just for reference, this is what you have today:

Likewise, on April 11th WinTOTAL Aurora will get an update that lets you choose to "Add Internal Status" or "Update Client." Regardless of your workflow, both options will be in Mercury Desktop and Aurora:

Another benefit to updating clients directly in their portal is that you're always sure you're following their requirements. Plus, this new technology makes it possible for us to open the platform to integrate with other client portals (in addition to Mercury Network). As they come on board, you won't have to keep up as many logins, passwords, and places to deliver. All-in-all, it will make delivery and communicating easier for you.

On that note, you'll also notice that order acceptance and negotiation will be handled within your client's portal — rather than your desktop tools. Once you've accepted the order via their system, we'll send you the order file so you can start work without typing order data. (We don't get involved until you've accepted the order using your client's order acknowledgement methods.) It's also cleaner because you won't have order files (.ZAPs) on your computer for jobs you haven't agreed to. And most often this acceptance process is started in e-mail, which is nice since e-mail travels on any device.

Overall, our interface will help you get used to these two changes without skipping a beat. Yet you'll have more flexibility with Mercury Network assignments right away. Long term, these changes also help us because they lessen our burden to keep our systems in sync with your AMCs and clients' platforms. With so much oversight, your clients change their rules and processes constantly. We're drastically reducing the chance of issues arising as you communicate with them.

We’re wrapping up testing of these features now and you’ll see them released in WinTOTAL Aurora, Mercury Desktop, and XSite's Business Management tool on April 11th.

In terms of logistics, to upgrade our database structure and make the syncing of status more reliable, we’re going to take the servers offline for several hours starting at midnight (CT). So, before you call it quits that Friday evening, be sure Mercury Desktop and WinTOTAL are closed. The next time you open these tools updates will automatically be installed. Also, Mercury Network will be taking this time to move the DataCourier servers as well. If you deliver any assignments in the wee Saturday morning hours, you'll need to upload to your AMC's portal or simply wait a few hours.

Naturally, we'll send reminders about the dates and details, but we don't expect this maintenance time to impact very many appraisers. We know you all work long hours, but statistically we see this is generally in your window of downtime for the week.

Stay on the lookout for these improvements and let us know if you have any questions. Again, the goals are to make our assignment system easier, give you more control, and become scalable for new integrations. This is a good step in that direction.

See also:

  • All posts related to this update: Click here
  • More about the downtime and how to deliver to clients while the servers are offline: Click here