Automatic Project Evaluations

Webinar 37 in the "I Didn't Know ClearPoint Could Do That!?!" Webinar Series

The rumors you’ve been hearing are true – you can now evaluate projects automatically in ClearPoint! Join us on this episode of the “I Didn’t Know ClearPoint Could Do That!?!” Webinar for the inside scoop.

Learn how to take information like budget spend or milestone average percent complete and transform this data into consistent evaluation criteria for project elements. Master Measures play a role in enabling this capability, so be sure to check out our recent webinar on this feature, too.

Happy reporting!

 

Webinar 37 Transcript

Introduction

Hello everyone and welcome to the “I didn’t know ClearPoint could do that!?!” webinar series.

  • Today, we’re discussing a highly anticipated feature that will transform your project management in ClearPoint, and that is Automatic Project Evaluations.
  • Before we get started, here are your smiling hosts, I’m Catherine
    • Tricia: and I’m Tricia
  • A few housekeeping announcements:
    • We will be recording this session and will make it available within a week
    • Webinar will last about 25 minutes with time for questions
    • Submit questions to [email protected], we’ll answer as many as we can at the end
  • Any that we don’t get to we’ll follow up over email.
  • Now, on our last installment, we covered another great ClearPoint 11.5 feature, Master Measure templates. And, not only are these a great way to standardize your data, but they’re also very much intertwined with the process we’ll be going over today – so I’d highly recommend checking out that recording on our blog, Vimeo channel, or support center. Just search “Webinar”.

 

Agenda (1:03)

  • Now, our focus today is on automatically evaluating project elements. A brand-new capability as of ClearPoint 11.5.
  • The possibilities are endless! So we’ll start out with some fully formed inspiration, also known as an example.
  • Then, we’ll back up a little, and show how to incorporate data and charts into your project elements.
  • We’ll introduce a new calculation type called Reference Series
  • Show you how automating projects will enhance your detail pages,
  • We’ll explore those evaluation criteria,
  • And finally, we’ll make sure you’re equipped to make changes to those projects.
  • Alright, we’ve got a lot to cover today, so let’s skydive right in to our Upward Airlines account.

 

Background and Example (1:57)

  • Catherine: So, for starters, let’s get a little bit of background information. What do project evaluations do, and when should you use them?
    • Well, when you’ve been tracking projects and strategy side by side, you might find that you start to merge the management of these two things.
    • You might have projects where you want to use data to show how you’re doing, and you might base your evaluation of your long-term goals on the status of your projects. So it’s important to have an accurate view of how those projects are really going.
    • And we’re actually going to show you the potential for the finished product before we tell you how to get set up.
    • Let’s click on our Find new food service provider initiative
    • Now, this is a project where, at the highest level, evaluation seems pretty black and white: either you don’t have a new food service provider yet, or you do.
    • But of course, a dinner menu on a flight to Rome wasn’t built in a day, and as we can see here with our milestones, there are a lot of steps going on behind the scenes.
    • Tricia: We want to make sure there’s a consistent way to know whether we’re on track with this initiative. How can we tell how far along we really are?
    • Tricia: It might seem like there isn’t a lot of quantitative information to tell us that in this particular case – but that’s actually not true.
    • Catherine: With any initiative in ClearPoint, we can have our percent complete, the number of elapsed days, the budget, and the budget we’ve spent…and, of course, each milestone has several of these criteria assigned as well.
    • Wouldn’t it be great if we had a way to showcase that data over time, and use it to determine the status of our project?
    • Enter automatic project evaluations. We’ve set up an automatic evaluation for this initiative so that we can use the data to demonstrate our progress over time.
      • Tricia: And the fun isn’t just restricted to initiatives – any project element can have an automatic evaluation. So action items, milestones, and risks are all fair game too.
    • Catherine: Yup, this evaluation party is all inclusive. So If I scroll down here, I can see this information displayed over time in our data table. In these two manually entered series, I have my budget for the overall project, and the budget we’ve spent each month.
    • On top of that, these two percent related series are also calculated.
    • Percent complete finds the average percent complete of our milestones, and we’re comparing it to the elapsed percent complete between our initiative’s start date and end date.
    • We’ve also got two charts, one to track our percent complete, and one to track that budget spend.
    • Tricia: Either set of comparisons here would be a great concrete evaluation for whether we’re below plan, on track, or somewhere in between.
    • Tricia: And we know it’s going to be consistent, because this automatic evaluation is using the same comparison month after month.
    • Tricia: We’ve actually got our series evaluation field here to show you exactly how that red/yellow/green status is determined.
    • So, when your leadership asks in your next project management meeting how you can tell whether your initiative is on track, you’ve got a clear, logical answer at the ready.
    • You no longer have to keep project data siloed into measures, and your projects can play a calculated role in achieving your goals.
    • But let’s back up a second. How did we get all of these useful elements – our data table, charts, series evaluations – into an initiative?!
    • You might be thinking, hmmm, a standard format for measure charts, data, and evaluations – that sounds a lot like a master measure template!??!
    • You’re thinking right. Master measure templates can now be used to automatically evaluate projects too.

 

Setting up a new Project Evaluation measure template (6:00)

  • Tricia: So as Catherine just alluded to, we are going to go through the steps to get to this point of full on project evaluations by setting up a measure template and connecting it to another initiative
    • So when we click into our implement Wi-Fi in all aircrafts initiative, you can see this is a standard initiative we are used to seeing in ClearPoint
    • But by setting up a project evaluation, we can connect this initiative with a measure template in order to pull out these features Catherine was explaining on the last initiative
    • So to get started we can find our measure templates in Admin Options > Master Measures
    • In Webinar 36, we walked through setting up two measure templates in Master Measures. But that was a few weeks ago so let’s give ourselves a little review on how these work.
    • Master measures are templates that you can link measures to. The Master Measure template centrally determines which charts, series, calculations and evaluations are going to appear in the linked elements.
    • So I can click into Master Measures and see there is a New Initiative template that we have set up, but we will need to walk through this to make sure the measure template is formatted for our project evaluation
    • If I edit this and click into the Series tab, I can see that the template has the default Actual and Target series, but these might not be the most useful series to track for your project evaluations, so I can change the:
      • Actual series to Percent Complete
      • Target series to Elapsed Percent Complete
    • And I can add two additional series:
      • Budget
      • Budget Spent
    • Now we save our new initiative template with the series we want to display
    • Once we save this, we can see that the other two project evaluation measure templates have Initiative and Milestone tags
    • This shows that these measure templates have been set up to use for the project evaluation of the specific element
    • So now I just need to do the same for our new initiative and milestone template
    • So we can close out of Master Measures and click into Project Evaluations
    • Here I can see where we can select these measure templates to be used in the appropriate project evaluation
      • So I will set our new initiative template to Initiatives, as well as the new milestone template we will be working with to Milestones

Reference series (9:28)

  • Catherine: Awesome, so choosing which master measure templates are available for which elements is a great way to keep from confusing your users. They know which templates should be used for initiatives and which should be used for milestones right off the bat.
  • And this is just the start. Now we know that these measure templates are the force behind integrating measure capabilities, like data and charts, into your project elements.
  • And, as you saw on our food service provider initiative, that means we can track our percent complete over time.
    • Now you might be wondering – what is the advantage of having percent complete in a data table when we’ve had a percent complete field all along?
    • Well, this isn’t just any old percent complete series. This one references milestone information to determine how complete our initiative really is.
    • Enter reference series.
    • What a Reference series allows you to do is to pull information from any quantitative edit or update field and track it in a measure data table.
    • So these are going to be important in allowing us to track and chart data from project elements
    • Let’s click back into our measure templates to set one up.
    • Remember, as Tricia pointed out, it’s not just initiatives that can get some love from these templates. It’s any project element.
    • So first, before we get to the initiative, we’re going to leverage this new milestone measure template.
      • And we’ll go to the series tab, where we can see that we’ve got four manually entered master series here.
      • Now let’s click to edit one of our master series, the percent complete series.
      • And I’m going to go over to the calculation tab
      • So at the top, we’re going to choose our calculation type, and we’re going to switch it from Calculated Series, to Reference Series.
      • And immediately here we’re going to see a change in the type of information being pulled in.
    • So in our dropdowns here, let’s go ahead and pull in the milestone percent complete. When we circle back to the initiative, you’ll see why.
      • In my first dropdown, I’m going to choose what element the information is associated with. So we’ll say ‘Milestone’.
      • In the second, we’ll select a field. And again, this is just going to be quantitative fields.
        • Tricia: And in case you’re not sure whether your data is quantitative, this has to do with field type. If you enter 33 into a Currency field, the ClearPoint system will know it’s numeric. If you enter that same number into an HTML Text field, it could be anything, so this won’t be read as a quantitative field by ClearPoint.
        • Catherine: That’s a great point. And It’s also important here to note that scorecard-specific fields can’t be used in our measure template reference series – this template could be used anywhere in your account, after all.
      • So we’ll select ‘Percent Complete’, and this is going to pull in whatever value is in the milestone’s Percent Complete field into the series.
    • Tricia: Now this is where things get pretty cool. Once I have my percent complete tracked in the data table, I can treat it like any other series.
    • Tricia: And what that means in our case, is that we’re going to utilize that milestone data at the initiative level. In this case, we’re going to aggregate the milestone percent completes to find the overall average.
    • Catherine: Yes, so now, let’s click into our initiative template.
      • Again, edit series tab, Edit Percent complete,
      • And jump over to the Calculations tab here again.
      • This time, we’re actually going to choose Aggregate series.
      • So we can keep this as All Scorecards
      • Then for those of you super familiar with aggregations, you’ll see there’s a new dropdown in town.
      • We can select an element to aggregate here as well. We’re going to choose Initiative, so that we can base the milestones included off of our current initiative.
      • In the next dropdown, we want to select ‘Milestones of current initiative’ so that we can get that average percent complete.
      • The series name will equal Percent Complete
      • And of course we’re averaging these, so we’ll select that there too.
      • Lastly, we’ll treat blank values as zeros – otherwise, we won’t really have the full picture of our milestones overall.
    • There’s one more thing we have to do here before saving – we want to get a really objective view of the elapsed percent complete, so we’ll use a reference series to pull in this default information about the initiative.
      • Click to edit the elapsed percent complete series, go to the calculation tab
      • We’ll change the calculation to a reference series here
      • And this time, we’ll choose the initiative field for Elapsed Percent Complete
      • This is going to calculate the elapsed days as a percentage of the total days between the initiative’s start and end date for you. You don’t have to lift a finger.
    • Tricia: If you’ve been wondering how you should be determining the percent complete of an initiative, having a measure template behind the scenes is going to really ramp up your ability to logically determine this data point.
    • Okay, so now we’ve got all this information stored in our template, but… how do we transfer it to our initiative?

Automatic Initiative detail pages (15:46)

  • Tricia: Great question Catherine! Now that we have done the work to setup our measure template, we can connect this to our initiative and see the benefits of setting up project evaluations
    • I can click back into our Implement Wi-Fi initiative
    • I then can edit the initiative and click into Milestones
    • Now I can bulk change the Milestones to use the New Milestone Template by selecting all the Milestones and then choosing to edit multiple and selecting Evaluation Master Measure
    • If I click into Milestone Edit Fields table I can see in the dropdown, the measure templates that have been linked to the Milestone project evaluations
    • So now I can choose the New Milestone Template we were working to set up
    • I then can click into Edit Initiative tab
    • Here I can see under Evaluation Master Measure dropdown, my new measure template set up with my initiative project evaluation
    • So I can select the new Initiative template and save
    • Now you might initially think nothing looks different on our initiative
    • But by editing the layout of the detail page, you can see I know have the ability to pull out the data table and chart
    • You can see the Percent Complete series is being calculated based on the Aggregate series calculation we set up in the measure template that calculates the average of the Milestones percent complete
    • The Elapsed Percent Complete series is being calculated based on the Reference series calculation we set up in the measure template to pull from the Elapsed Percent Complete field
    • I can also double click to enter data in the Budget and Budget Spent series.
    • Catherine: So entering data here works just like it does for a measure?
    • Tricia: Yes! I just enter in data and save.
    • Catherine: Wow, this budget makes those in-flight Wi-Fi prices look pretty good.
    • Tricia: I know right!
    • You can also see here we have a chart that is tracking the Percent Complete and Elapsed Percent Complete data over time
    • And to get a little more detail, we can edit the initiative to take a deeper look at these project evaluation features
    • Here we can see a few tabs we are not used to seeing when working with initiatives but have been introduced when using project evaluations
    • There is an ‘Update Data’ tab where we can add data as we did in the data table on the detail page
    • There is also an Initiative Series tab where you can see the series set up in the measure template and can add new series for a specific initiative, which we will show in a little bit
      • It’s important to note that the orange master series cannot be changed here because these are controlled from the measure template
    • Then there is the Charts tab where you can see the charts setup in the measure template and can add new charts for a specific initiative
      • Again, it’s important to note that the orange master chart cannot be changed here because these are controlled from the measure template
    • One last thing to note here, if I click into the ‘Edit Initiative’ tab, I can change the reporting frequency here from monthly to quarterly
      • If I save this and look back at the page, I can see how this affects the data table and charts, similar to how it would a measure


Evaluation Criteria (20:40)

    • Catherine: These are all really valuably aspects to know once you’ve incorporated that measure template.
    • So, by linking that measure template, we’ve incorporated charts, data tables, and calculated series into our initiative. WAY more than you bargained for in this webinar. In a good way!
    • But you’re probably wondering…
    • Tricia: What does all this have to do with project evaluations?
    • Catherine: Exactly, good question.
    • Now, with all these similarities between measures and our new capabilities with projects, it’s no surprise that evaluations translate to projects in a similar fashion.
    • So we can now leverage that data in our data table to set our project evaluation criteria, just like we would for a measure evaluation.
    • So we’re going to head back to our master measure template.
      • Click to edit our New Initiative template
      • Over to the Series tab, and let’s say that we want to evaluate our initiative based on that cumulative average percent complete of the milestones we set up, as compared to the elapsed percent complete.
      • So we’ll click to edit our series, just like in a measure, and go to the Evaluation tab
      • So, you know what to do – first we’ll check the boxes next to each of the evaluations we want to include
      • Then, we’ll select our comparison. So we’re going to compare to the elapsed percent complete – the percentage of time passed between our start date and our end date.
      • Then, we’ll add our calculations. So maybe the caution range is going to be between 85 and 100% of our target.
      • Then once we’ve got these criteria in place, we’ll click save
      • And of course, just because we’ve got the series evaluation set doesn’t mean we’ve got an overall status for the initiative – we have to do the same last step that you would take in a measure.
      • So we’ll change our Evaluation Option from Manual to Use ‘Percent Complete’ Series.
    • Tricia: So just to make sure I understand – the evaluation criteria for the initiative have to be set centrally in the templates?
    • Catherine: Yep, that’s right – even if you specify that the initiatives will be manually evaluated, that evaluation for the initiative overall is set in the measure template.
      • And that should give you some confidence in the consistency of your project evaluations, too – you know that any initiative using this template is green because you’re ahead of the anticipated percent complete.
      • Now, just like a measure, if you wanted to add an evaluation to another series, you can add as many as you want.
    • Tricia: Right, so another option would be to also add an evaluation comparing our Budget Spend to our Budget, and then select the Worst Series evaluation – that way, if either our percent complete or our budget gets off track, we’ll know in a heartbeat.
    • Catherine: Yup, so here we’re going to say, we’re above plan if our budget spend is greater than our budget. If we’re slightly over our budget, we’ll call that caution, and anything greater than that is going to be below plan.
    • So if we wanted to use the option for the worst of those two, we would set it here. For now we’re just going to use percent complete.
    • Alright, so now that we’ve got our evaluation set up, let’s go back and take a look at our Wi-Fi initiative
    • We can see here that for each period, when the average milestone percent complete is less than the overall elapsed percent complete, we’ve got a yellow or a red status, otherwise, we’re on track.
    • And there’s one more field that might come in handy here now that we’ve got our automatic evaluations set –
      • I can click next to the Edit icon to edit our layout, and add the series status and series evaluation fields
      • Tricia: You might be familiar with these fields from working with measures.
      • Catherine: Yup, same exact concept here. Our series status field shows us the current status of any evaluated series,
      • and our series evaluation field will display the criteria determining the initiative status.

Making Changes (25:25)

  • Tricia: Very cool! So the next question you might be asking is, well what if there is something I want to track for a specific initiative, but not all my initiatives?
    • I know I don’t want to add another series to my measure template since that will affect all connected initiatives, so what can I do?
    • Well you actually have the ability to edit Individual initiatives even after they are connected to a measure template, which won’t change the measure template overall
      • Catherine: So even when an initiative is connected to a measure template, you can add additional series or charts?
      • Tricia: Exactly! You can add these additional criteria you want to track for an individual project
      • So say for example you want to add an additional series to our Wi-Fi initiative, maybe a series for percent or # of planes with Wi-Fi, since this could also inform how this individual initiative is doing
      • But this series would not apply to other initiatives using this measure template, so I don’t want to add the series to the global measure template
      • But I can edit my initiative and add an additional series here, similar to adding another series to a measure
      • I can add Percent of planes with Wi-Fi as a series and set the data type to percent
      • Then when I save this I can see it is added to the data table and I can enter the data for the series
    • Similarly, you can add additional charts to individual initiatives
    • Speaking of charts, you can see the measure template chart name does not really work for this initiative
      • The chart is tracking Percent Complete over time, but the title New Initiative Template does not convey this
      • So since this is a chart from the measure template, we can make changes to central formatting, which will make changes to all initiatives connected to this measure template
      • You already know how to make these central updates from previous webinar on Master Measures, but as a refresher you can go into Admin Options > Master Measures
      • I can edit the initiative template, click into Charts and change the chart name to Percent Complete
      • Now I can save and click back to the initiative and see the updated chart name that clearly explains what is being displayed in this chart

 

Awesome, it’s great to have that flexibility to keep things consistent or adjust individual initiatives as you need. I know we’ve covered a lot today, and I’m sure you have some burning questions about how you can utilize these project evaluations.

 

Questions (29:28)

Can you use reference series in individual measures too?

  • Tricia: Great question! You can also use reference series in individual measures
  • So say we have a Budget measure and we want to also pull in our Wi-Fi Project budget to track in this measure
  • We know the budget from this specific project is fairly large and important to our overall budget, so we want this pulled up to be monitored on the Budget measure as well
  • So I can click into my Budget measure, add an additional series called Wi-Fi Project Budget
  • Then I can click into Calculation and click the Reference series option from the dropdown and select my Wi-Fi initiative
  • Now I can save this and see it will automatically pull in the budget from the Implement Wi-Fi capabilities in all aircrafts
  • Catherine: Awesome, so the difference here is that with your master measures template, you’re just selecting a field and that’s going to adjust based on the initiative or milestone you’re using the template with, but this is a good way to pull in individual project data so that, for example, you can chart your project data to compare your individual projects to your annual department budget as a whole.

 

What if I want my status to show as Complete when all the milestones reach 100%?

  • Catherine: This is a great question and leads us to a really important distinction to make about the completed status.
  • In our account, we’ve added a custom status indicator to indicate a completed status – this purple check box here – but this is just another status indicator.
  • If we look at the Edit Initiative tab, we can see a completed checkbox, and that’s what’s going to tell ClearPoint to carry through your update information once you’ve marked your project complete, so that you’re not having to keep updating your analysis and recommendations once you’re finished working on that project.
  • With that in mind, there is a way that we can automatically show that completed status indicator, there’s just one thing we need to do to allow ClearPoint to show that status in our master measure.
  • If we look into our Status Indicators, we can see we have this purple check mark here,
  • The data you’re pulling in functions like a measure, so you’ll want to make sure this status is enabled for measures.
  • Then, we can go over to our initiative master measure template and edit the percent complete series evaluation to include this status.
  • You’ll just want to think closely about what completed means. So here, we know our initiative is complete when all our milestones reach 100%. So we’ll set this one criteria manually as a static value.
  • So we’ve gone ahead and set up some additional milestone percent completes into the future, so we can see here in December that our initiative is marked complete, and it’s because all of our milestones are 100% complete as well.

 

Why and how would I evaluate risks?

  • We did really want to keep these project evaluations as flexible as possible, so if there’s a scenario that you want to look into at your organization, please reach out to us! We really want to help you figure out how you can utilize project evaluations at your organization.
  • With risks in particular, something that we look at with our risk analysis is the probability of the risk on a 1 to 5 scale, as well as the severity of the risk,
  • And then those two values can be used to create a sum or average that you can use to compare your risks.
  • So since those are all numeric values, they’re something that you could track in the data table, and align with a red, yellow or green status.

 

So again, for any specific scenarios that you want to explore with project evaluations, we’d really love to hear from you. And that’s all we have time for today – thanks so much for joining us on this episode of the “I Didn’t Know ClearPoint Could Do That?!” webinar series, thanks so much for joining us and Happy Reporting!

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