Technical FAQ

System Requirements

Predictor is designed to run on any desktop, laptop or notebook that is running Microsoft Excel in a Windows 10/11 environment.  It should run without difficulty on Excel 2016 or later. However, due to the differences between Excel versions and different display resolutions, it may be necessary for the user to scroll up or down and/or adjust the zoom on certain pages.

Predictor is a Windows Application and therefore must be opened by clicking on the Predictor icon on the Start or Miscellaneous Programs menu (it can be moved as desired). Predictor workbooks are saved as Excel files, but re-opening the file requires re-opening the Predictor application and selecting the workbook of interest. 

Frequently Asked Technical Questions

I have a 3 year fixed-price contract for snow removal and pay the same amount each year regardless of the amount of snow. How do I enter that data? 

That is exactly the kind of contract that Predictor was set up to handle. Label the column "Snow Removal", enter the contract duration, the existing contract amount, the year the contract is to be re-negotiated and your estimate as to the average % increase for contract renewals. Predictor will do the rest. If you pay a base amount each contract year plus additions depending upon the amount of snow, enter the basic contract terms as described above and put your estimates of any additional costs in the manual adjustment column.

I have a contract that I renegotiate every X years, that sets a ceiling price on each of the years, but the expenses within any one year may not reach the ceiling. How  do I handle that?

Consider it as a  single year contract and enter  in the current year the average annual cost you anticipate over the term of the contract. Since this will likely differ from the current annual cost, use the manual adjustment column to resolve the difference.  Alternately enter  it as a multiyear contract using the ceiling price  over the term of the contract ,and enter  any plus/minus  annual changes  you anticipate in  the manual adjustment column. 

Every 10 years, we negotiate a fixed-price contract to paint all our buildings. The contract costs are spread over 3 years, after which they are zero for the next 7 years. How do I handle that in Predictor?   

See the painting example in the Free Trial version which is similar to the situation described. Predictor currently assumes that every multi-year fixed-price contract will be renegotiated immediately after it expires. Therefore if you classify it as a multiyear contract, it will generate costs in years 4 through 10. You could always back out those erroneous costs using the manual adjustment column. Alternately, as shown in the free trial version, simply enter the anticipated costs for the three painting years directly in the manual adjustment column. 

What is meant by a "just-in-time" solution to determining fee increases and what assurance do I have that the numbers are accurate?

Just in Time implies adding money to  either the operating account or capital account  only when it is needed. However, the user can set a minimum end-of-year balance which would likely trigger a fee increase. Similarly, considering most condominium associations are not-for-profit, the user can set the maximum amount to be carried over from year-to-year. Within these boundaries, Predictor examines the cost requirements and the funds available to meet them. If there is an operating fund surplus that results in the balance exceeding the maximum carryover set by the user, the excess is transferred to the capital reserve; if there is a shortage that results in the balance falling below the minimum threshold, Predictor will call for a fee increase in an amount that just barely solves the problem. Predictor has been designed to ensure stability in the fee structure. If there is a year where a surplus is forecast,  Predictor will not call for a negative fee; subject to the maximum allowable carryover, it will either keep the funds in the operating account or transfer the surplus to the capital reserve.

I have more Operating Expense budget categories than there are columns to enter the data.  What should  I do?

The objective is not to match budget categories; rather it is to lump together those expenses that are likely to be subject to the same rate of inflation. For example, the combined total payroll of all departments may not be in a single budget category, but it probably makes more sense to put all payroll costs in a single column and estimate what the average annual % pay increase is likely to be. And if for example all other expenses are likely to be subject to the same average rate of inflation (but different from that used for payroll), those expenses can be combined as well. The result in this extreme example is that only two columns would be required. Precision in individual budget categories is not required; the manual adjustment column can be used to ensure that the total  expense matches the total entered on the Start page.(See also the following FAQ.)

Similarly, on the capital requirements page there are not enough columns to capture all the various capital requirements we will face in the future.

While it would be nice to have a column for every single type of requirement, the important thing as far as Predictor is concerned is that items that will be subject to the identical pressures of inflation be treated the same. In pragmatic terms that means that capital assets subject to the same inflation can be put together in a single column. If necessary to track the details , a supplementary spreadsheet can be used to feed into the Future Capital Expense  data entry page, such as is shown here.

On the capital funding alternative pages, it is not clear when I make a manual adjustment what should happen - sometimes other numbers change and sometimes they don't .  

 If you call for an automated solution such as Just in Time or Early Funding and then make manual adjustments, even if Predictor JIT is still on or the EF recommended fee is still in place, Predictor will NOT dynamically adjust to a new solution; rather your adjustment (be it an assessment, fee change, or 13th month) will modify the end of year balance This is intentional - otherwise Predictor would be "fighting" you as you worked on a more acceptable end of year fund balance. The only exception to this is when you introduce debt through either a fixed loan or line of credit; in most cases that will cause fees and assessments to change.

My Association manages both operating  and capital costs with a single "pot" of money. Can Predictor handle that situation ? if yes, please provide sufficient details. 

The easiest way to handle the situation is to  clear any data from the operating  expense side, and on the page  where  capital expenses are  entered ,  devote one column to the annual expenses by entering for every single year the anticipated  expenses, ignoring inflation. Then enter in  the designated cell on the top of the column the assumed  inflation rate to be applied. Do the same in a separate column(s) for any anticipated capital expenses. Scroll down to see the inflation-adjusted results. Proceed to the funding alternatives page  where you can use a Just in Time  strategy, an Early Funding strategy or a Hybrid/Customized solution . The results can be interpreted as the fee increases and/or assessments  necessary to support both annual expenses and upcoming capital expenses, without any designation as to how much should be  going to a particular category. 

As a company that prepares capital reserve studies, if I wanted to deliver the study results in Predictor (perhaps with a sample solution to the funding impact), how would I go about that?

You would first need your own licensed copy with which you can load the data and create a solution. You would then buy a licensed copy for the client, but would NOT download it; rather you would forward the purchased license key (which comes in an e-mail after purchase) to the client . Using the license key, the client could then download  Predictor at no cost. Once both you and the client have the application, either of you can amend the data as necessary and/or create alternative funding solutions. The results can then be shared by transferring Predictor workbooks with each other.