Project Management in ClearPoint

Webinar 54 in the "I Didn't Know ClearPoint Could Do That!?!" Webinar Series

Are you interested in tracking projects in ClearPoint to complement your high-level goals and performance measures? We’ll walk you through how to track quantitative project data and charts, automatically evaluate progress, leverage the Gantt chart, and link key milestones and action items to ensure you get the job done! Join us on this episode of the “I Didn’t Know ClearPoint Could Do That!?!” to learn more!

Happy Reporting!

Webinar 54 Transcript


  • Introduction (0:00)
  • Agenda (0:55)
  • Introduction to strategic project management (1:39)
  • Setting up an initiative in ClearPoint (4:46)
  • ClearPoint Project Evaluations (7:17)
  • Reporting on your projects (10:37)
  • Questions (13:31)

Introduction (0:00)

  • Laura: Hi all you cool cats and kittens, and welcome to the “I didn’t know ClearPoint could do that!?!” webinar series
  • Today, we’ll be diving into project management in ClearPoint!
  • But before we get started, here are your smiling hosts! I’m Laura…
    • Pierre: And I’m Pierre!
  • Laura: As a few housekeeping announcements:
    • We will be recording this session and will make it available within a week
    • The webinar will last about 20 minutes with time for questions at the end
    • So you can submit your questions to [email protected]
  • Any that we don’t get to, we’ll follow up with over email!
  • Pierre: Now, on our last installment, we walked through how to take your ClearPoint summary reports to the next level, so if you’re interested in learning how to ‘wow’ leadership at your next board meeting, or are looking for more efficient ways for your users to update data in ClearPoint, be sure to check out that recording and transcript on our website or Vimeo channel!

Agenda (0:55)

  • Laura: Today, we’ll be focusing on Project Management in ClearPoint!
  • We’ll start by defining project management and the elements used in this framework.
  • Then, we’ll walk through how to set up and use these elements in a Basic/Pro account
  • Next we’ll show you a more advanced framework that could be set up in an Enterprise account, using the Project Evaluations feature.
  • Finally, we’ll wrap up by going over some great options when it comes to reporting on your projects’ progress and sharing results with a larger audience.

So again, if you have any questions you’d like us to address during the webinar, please reach out to [email protected]!

Introduction to strategic project management (1:39)

  • Pierre: Let’s get started. Project management is like herding cats. There’s a lot to keep track of and everything is going in different directions, so there’s no question your organization needs to leverage a tool to help manage its strategic projects.
  • Laura: Can we back up a bit – What is project management?
  • Pierre:  Great question – Project Management is the application of skills, knowledge, and tools to plan, launch, execute, manage, and close the work of a team to achieve specific goals within specific timeframes. This “work” is a project. Our technology includes some useful tools to help you manage strategic projects, but isn’t built to manage and track all project details.
  • Laura: I see. So in the Balanced Scorecard framework, strategic initiatives are the primary method by which strategy is executed.  While objectives and key performance indicators help point you in the right direction, initiatives are where the rubber hits the road. How do you know what qualifies a project as strategic or not?
  • Pierre: A project is strategic if it’s put in place to drive the execution of the strategy itself and, if implemented correctly, brings your organization closer to achieving its key goals and KPIs. These projects are tracked within your strategic plan and reported on at the executive level.
  • Laura: So if I have projects that are typically operational or tactical in nature – they aren’t considered strategic, since they only loosely tie to the strategy and don’t need to be discussed with leadership teams. These projects are generally inexpensive, don’t require budget approval, and can be managed deep within the organization.
  • Pierre: Exactly. In short, ClearPoint helps you track and report on the projects that impact your strategy. These projects typically have a scope, owner, start/= and end date, budget, and milestones. They also should link up to your objectives and measures, helping you align your strategy.
  • Laura: Ok, now that we have the overview of the strategic project management framework, let’s break down each of the elements available to you in ClearPoint and how to leverage them.
  • Pierre: Sure. For project management in ClearPoint, you can use initiatives, milestones, action items, and even risks if you need an extra element. Let’s talk about initiatives first. These are the main elements for project management in ClearPoint. They exist on the same level as objectives and measures, which makes it easy to link them all across a scorecard. Each initiative in your account should represent a different project, with its own owners, budgets, scopes, and more.
  • Laura: And then milestones only exist as child elements of initiatives. They are meant to help you break down the steps required to complete the project or initiative. You can set up detail pages and status indicators for these as well, but they are inherently linked to the parent initiative.
  • Pierre: Finally, action items are typically stand-alone items that are used to track tasks and follow-up items. They are usually simpler than initiatives and don’t require any sub-elements such as milestones. You can link these to any other element, including initiatives.

Setting up an initiative in ClearPoint (4:46)

  • Laura: Now that we’re all on the same page about project management, let’s dive into an example of managing a project in a Basic or Pro account. As you can see, here is the initiative detail page where I am tracking the overview and progress of my project.
  • Pierre: This is a lot of information! Can you break down how you decided to organize this page and what it tells you?
  • Laura: Sure. What’s great about this page is that I can set up both quantitative and qualitative information. The start/end dates, budget, and percent complete fields help me evaluate the quantitative progress of this project, while the owner, description, and analysis fields give me the opportunity to provide context to the numbers and explain any setbacks or accomplishments.
  • Pierre: I can tell you did a lot of planning before starting this project, but would it be a total cat-astrophe if something were to change?
  • Laura: Definitely not! Even though it’s best to plan ahead, what’s really great is that if plans change (as they often do), it’s really easy to add another milestone or shift the timeline using the Gantt chart at the bottom of the page. (give Laura to make the change!)
  • Pierre: So how can we tell which objectives and measures this project is related to?
  • Laura: Great question! So if I scroll down a little further, you can see that I’ve linked this initiative to the objective and a measure that this project is directly related to, and I can pull out these fields on the detail page so it’s easy to see how this aligns to our strategy.
  • Pierre: Wow, are you fur real?
  • Laura: Totally! Now the last thing to point out here is that I can manually set a status indicator for my project, so that anyone who takes a quick glance at this page can easily understand how we’re doing. Since my analysis says the project is going well, I decided to set it as green, for above target.

ClearPoint Project Evaluations (7:17)

  • Pierre: If you want, or need, to take your projects to the next level, ClearPoint can help. With Project Evaluations, you can make this jump. Quantify and visualize your projects in new ways.
  • Laura: This sounds purrfect but what does it look like?
  • Pierre: Great question. Let’s check out Tiger Zoos and see how the new tiger compound is going.
    • Go to “Construct new tiger compound”
    • On top of the already great features such as start and end dates that Laura showed us, we now have quantitative data to support our projects. In this example, we have a data table that tracks and calculates how we’re performing in terms of our percent complete and budget. The description field explains what each one of these columns means, but I’ll walk us through some of the key ones.
    • In the first three columns, you can see how ongoing different expenditures of the project can roll-up into the overall project spend. And as you move toward the right in the table, you can see various, popular ways budget, and actual spend, is compared to percent complete.
  • Laura: So cool! So would you have to bring this data table to your meeting?
  • Pierre: Not if you don’t want to! While this is all great data, we know that not everyone has the interest or time to squint at data tables, so projects now come with the same charts you’re familiar with from measures. In these examples, look how the charts reflect the data in the table in an easier to understand way.
    • The chart on the left shows how your projected budget spend compares to actual spend.
    • And the chart on the right shows how your actual percent complete compares to your planned percent complete, giving you great insight on where you fell off or where you broke ahead. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely financially recover from this.
  • Laura: Charts, cats, and ClearPoint – it gets even better!
  • Pierre: And we’re not done yet. While sometimes your projects’ performance is driven by its performance against the budget, sometimes the performance of the milestones, the individual parts of the project that is, drive the performance and success of the overall project.
    • Let’s take a look at our project “Produce Carole Baskin Music Video” to see how this works in action.
  • Laura: So exciting! This song came up in my Discover Weekly.
  • Pierre: Here we have three milestones that altogether make up the music video. In this report below, notice how the milestones’ percent complete average to deliver the initiative percent complete, which in turn drives the overall status of the initiative.
    • What’s really awesome is that when you update the milestone percent completes, the status of the project changes immediately too.
  • Laura: That’s amazing! So whether your projects have budgets and quantitative data that needs to be considered or they are a sum of their parts, you’ll be able to track and execute on them either way.
  • Pierre: Yes, exactly! Project evaluations raise the bar on your projects. Ask your Account Manager about setting them up in the way that works for you.

Reporting on your projects (10:37)

  • Laura: So we just saw some really cool examples of project management for individual projects, but what if we want to report on multiple projects?
  • Pierre: There are lots of great options for reporting on projects in ClearPoint! First, let’s take a look at the Gantt chart. Here, we can see all of our initiatives and their milestones displayed, along with their timelines and statuses. This is a great way to show someone an overview of all your projects and their progress.
    • New features from our latest release allow you to set a start and end date for the chart (for example, you can see here we have it set so we only view the 2020 calendar year), and also you can check to hide milestones so as to show a more streamlined and concise view for leadership. If you want to show more detail about each project, however…
  • Laura: We can set up a summary report! So if we check out this Project Manager report we have set up here, we can see a grid-style report showing multiple projects with the fields we think are most important for review. This is a great way for someone like a project manager to get a quick overview of which projects are in progress, and how they’re doing. You can also double click any of these fields on the report to directly edit from this page!
  • Pierre: That’s cool too, but what if I want to see more of a dashboard view?
  • Laura: That’s possible too! I have a dashboard report set up as a scorecard summary report, which gives me more flexibility than the grid-style report. If I click here into the ‘Project Management Dashboard’, I can see a typed analysis and legend, an overview of how many projects are on track according to their status indicator, as well as the grid-style summary report we saw earlier.
  • Pierre: Wow you’ve gotta be kitten me
  • Laura: I’m totally serious! There are many other fields you could display on this dashboard, and infinite ways to arrange the information you need to stay on top of your strategic projects.

Questions (13:31)

  • Pierre: Alright, it looks like we’re nearing the end of our time here today, so we’d love to use our remaining time to open up the floor for your questions!

Question 1:

  • Laura: Can you use data tables and charts in other elements besides initiatives and measures?
    • Pierre: Yes! You can use them on milestones, action items, and risks – as long as you have Project Evaluations enabled for them in Admin Options.
    • This means your action items and risks can be auto-evaluated. Or even your milestones have sub-milestones that average into the milestone which average into the initiative in one big cascading roll-up.

Question 2: 

  • Laura: I’m a basic user, is there any way for me to use data to track my project since I can’t use Project Evaluations?
    • Pierre: While Basic and Pro Users don’t have access to Project evaluations, they can still link a separate measure to their initiatives. While this won’t give you all the functionality we covered today, however it will allow you to associate some data with your initiatives

Question 3:

  • Laura: Can you go over the difference between initiatives and action items?
    • Pierre: Yes, so to recap. Initiatives are strategic in nature. They tend to be more long-term and tie into the strategic or business plan.
    • Action-items are more one-off, ad-hoc items. They still need to be addressed and tracked but are less important in terms of strategic relevance.

Laura: Alright, well it looks like that’s all we have time for today! Thanks for taking the time to learn more about strategically managing your projects with us! We hope you can now confidently say ‘I DID know ClearPoint could do that!’. See you next time, and Happy Reporting!