Project Dependencies

Webinar 61 in the "I Didn't Know ClearPoint Could Do That!?!" Webinar Series

If you are tracking projects in ClearPoint, then you will definitely want to tune in and learn about our new project dependencies features! Join us on this episode of the “I Didn’t Know ClearPoint Could Do That!?!” to learn more!

Happy reporting!

Webinar 61 Transcript


  • Introduction (0:00)
  • Agenda (0:54)
  • April Fools Prank (1:30)
  • Introduction to Project Dependencies (3:48)
  • Setting up Project Dependencies in ClearPoint (5:44)
    • Option 1: Manual (6:04)
    • Option 2: Milestone Dependent (6:31)
    • Option 3: Initiative Dependent (8:36)
  • Bulk Set Project Dependencies (10:19)
  • Dependency Example: Unpacking the Prank (11:10)
  • Bonus: Data Loader Updates (13:35)
  • Questions (17:17)

Introduction (0:00)

  • Laura: Hello everyone, and welcome to the “I didn’t know ClearPoint could do that!?!” webinar series
  • Today, we’ll be sharing a super exciting new feature called Project Dependencies!
  • But before we get started, here are your smiling hosts, I’m Andy
    • Andy: And I’m Laura!
    • Andy: April Fools!
  • 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 25 minutes with time for questions at the end
    • So you can submit your questions to the Q&A chat box! This is located in the toolbar at the bottom of the Zoom window.
    • As always, anything that we don’t get to, we’ll follow up with over email!
  • Now, on our last installment, we walked through Branding in ClearPoint, so if you want to beautify your account to match your organization’s logo and unique colors, be sure to check out that recording and transcript on our website or Vimeo channel!

Agenda (0:54)

  • Andy: Today, we’ll be covering how to log into ClearPoint, enable edit mode, and give you an exciting sneak peak of our new look and feel!
    • April Fool’s again!  Today of course we’ll be covering project dependencies.
    • This project management trick will make everyone’s lives easier as you manage your projects in ClearPoint, saving you time so you can execute on your strategy.
    • Then, we’ll cover some exciting Data Loader updates.
  • Laura: So again, if you have any questions you’d like us to address during the webinar, be sure to submit them to the Q&A chat box located at the bottom of your Zoom toolbar!

April Fools Prank (1:30)

  • Laura: To kick things off, we actually have a real April Fool’s day prank planned that we want to let you all in on…
    • In a few minutes, Rachel Smith, a member of our Customer Success team, is going to join us for a meeting.  She is sitting in the Zoom waiting room but we haven’t let her in yet.
    • She thinks there is a meeting for which she owes us a report!  We’ve been planning this for months, giving Rachel subtle clues that she owes us a very important report, but haven’t shared the reason for the report or what the contents should be.
  • Andy: When Rachel joins, she will be very confused and likely apologetic for dropping the ball on the report she thinks she owes us!
    • Alright Laura, can you let her in please?
  • Laura: Sure thing!
  • Rachel: Andy, Laura, so sorry I’m late. Zoom wasn’t letting me into this meeting, whatever it’s for.
  • Andy: No problem!  Do you have that report ready for us?
  • Rachel: So another thing, I have no idea what this report is and what it is for.  Sorry for dropping the ball, but in all fairness, I feel like the emails leading up to this were almost intentionally vague.  What is going on here?
  • Andy and Laura: April Fool’s!
  • Laura: This was a fake meeting for you and there is no report you needed to prepare.  We’ve been planning this for months!
  • Rachel: Well…this isn’t the best April Fool’s joke I’ve seen.  You know I can generate any report from ClearPoint in a matter of minutes, right?  The Briefing Book probably takes all of a minute to build and generating it will take no more than 2 minutes.  It seems like you guys could have done better this year….Watch, I’ll show you.  If you give me control of the screen I can go to Documents > Briefing Books, then I–
  • Andy: Ok we get it!  Our joke fell flat.  ClearPoint makes it incredibly easy to get whatever report you need in no time.
    • The good news is that it also took us no time to plan for and manage this project, even with all the delays we had!
    • This is all thanks to our new Project Dependencies features, which are the focus of our webinar today.
  • Laura: Rachel, sorry for any stress this caused you but I’m sure these new features will make it all worth it!
  • Rachel: I’m sure they will. Thanks for trying to include me, and I look forward to catching this webinar recording after April Fool’s day has passed.
  • Andy: Now that we’ve failed in trying to prank Rachel, let’s actually dive into what it took to pull this prank off.

Introduction to Project Dependencies (3:48)

  • Andy: Have you ever had a project all built out in ClearPoint, ready to go for day 1 when you can dive into executing on it, only to find out that the project will be delayed by 3 months?
  • Laura: Or, have you ever found yourself in the middle of a project, and have milestones delayed so far that the initiative itself will need to be delayed?
  • Andy: Well, with ClearPoint, now we can leverage project dependencies to save time and improve our ability to properly report on this project!
    • With ClearPoint, there are three options for how to manage project dependencies.
    • First, you can set a project to be completely manual.  This is how it always worked with ClearPoint in the past, and it will continue to be an option going forward.
    • By default, all initiatives in your account are set to be manual.
  • Laura: The second option is to automatically calculate initiative dates based on Milestone start and end dates
  • In other words, your initiative’s start and end dates will be dependent on its milestone dates.
  • With this option, you can extend milestone dates outside of the initiative timeline, and then the overall initiative dates will extend as well​.
  • So for example, let’s say you have a certain milestone that is taking longer than expected and will delay the entire initiative. You use this dependency option in ClearPoint, so when you push out the milestone end date, the initiative end date will automatically be pushed out to that same date​
  • Andy: The third option is to automatically calculate milestone dates based on initiative start dates
  • In other words, your milestone dates are dependent on the initiative start date
  • If you adjust the initiative start date, the milestones will follow​
  • For example, let’s say my initiative gets delayed by a month. So with this option, I can push my initiative start date out one month, and all milestones will also get pushed out one month​

Setting up Project Dependencies in ClearPoint (5:44)

  • Laura: So, how can we go about actually applying these dependencies to our initiatives? And what does this actually look like in ClearPoint? Let’s jump into our account!
    • First, it’s important to note that you need an enterprise level plan to use dependencies. If you’re not sure what plan you have or you’d like to find out more, please get in touch with your account manager!

Option 1: Manual (6:04)

  • Laura: All existing and new initiatives will default to option 1 (the manual setting). If you’d like to change the dependencies setting for one initiative, you’ll want to edit the initiative, click into edit fields, click into the dependencies field, and select the option you want.
    • Let’s leave this one as option 1.

Option 2: Milestone Dependent (6:31)

  • Laura: Next, let’s explore what option 2 (automatically calculate initiative dates based on milestones) looks like in action
    • Notice that the initiative start and end date menus will be disabled, as they are now determined by the earliest and latest milestones dates​
    • Let’s go back to the initiative’s detail page and scroll down to the gantt chart. When I push out this milestone’s end date and save, you can see that the initiative’s end date has now been pushed out as well.
    • This option follows the logic that an initiative cannot end before all of its milestones are completed.
  • Andy: For another cool stunt you can pull with this dependency, try setting up a notification! Let’s say I’m in charge of this initiative, and I have collaborators working on the milestones. I may not have the time to always be monitoring the status and dates in ClearPoint, but I can set up a notification so I’ll get an email if one of the milestones (and thus the entire initiative) gets delayed or pushed out.
  • Laura: Can you give us a quick refresher on how to set that up?
  • Andy: Of course! So I’ll click into Automation and then Notifications. I’ll click the green plus icon to add a new notification, give it a name, and set the element type to initiative. And I want to get notified if there is any change to the end date. Then, I’ll click into Elements & Recipients to link the initiative of my choosing. Once I select it, I can choose myself as the recipient, save, and there we go – totally automated from now on!

Option 3: Initiative Dependent (8:36)

  • Andy: Now let’s go back to our initiatives and explore option 3 (automatically calculate milestone dates based on initiative start date)
    • Same process – let’s edit, click into edit fields, and go to the dependency field and select the third option.
    • When this option is selected, you will get a warning that changing the initiative start date may impact the milestones’ dates​
    • However, unlike option 2, the milestones here can still move independently of the initiative​ and the milestones dates can be earlier and/or later than the initiative​.
    • Let’s go to the initiative’s detail page and scroll down to the Gantt chart again. When I delay the initiative start date you can see that all the milestones also get delayed. The days of moving each individual milestone are long gone!
  • Laura: You can also use this option to create an initiative template. Let’s say you have a recurring project that always has the same milestones spaced out throughout a certain timeframe. With this dependency option selected, you can duplicate an initiative, change its name, and then click into it.
    • I’m going to scroll down so we can see the Gantt chart. So let’s say this new project starts in a few months. I’ll push out the initiative start date, save, and now you can see all of my milestones will follow.

Bulk Set Project Dependencies (10:19)

  • Andy: If you want to apply a dependency option to multiple initiatives, you can do that by using the ‘edit multiple’ feature on the Manage Initiatives page or with Bulk Changes in admin options. Let’s quickly go over how to use the ‘edit multiple’ feature. We can go to Initiatives > Manage Initiatives, select all the initiatives we want to change, and use the dropdown arrow next to the plus icon and click ‘edit multiple’. Dependencies are an ‘edit field’, so we’ll click into this ‘edit fields’ tab and select ‘dependencies’. Then, we’ll just choose which option to apply and save!

Dependency Example: Unpacking the Prank (11:10)

  • Laura: Now we want to show you the behind the scenes of how Andy and I planned for our prank on Rachel this past year. Here’s our Gantt chart that we used to keep track of everything. Dependencies helped us save time and effort when it came to reporting so that we could spend more time cooking up pranks on our coworkers. Andy, remember when we faced that major setback on Joseph’s prank when the fake bugs didn’t get delivered on time?
  • Andy: Wow yes, we had to delay the initiative and thus all its milestones. Luckily, we were able to use the dependency option where milestone dates are automatically calculated by the initiative start date so we didn’t have to spend time moving back each individual milestone. So all we had to do was push out the initiative, and all the milestones followed!
  • Laura: And then there was the time we almost completed every single milestone for the stapler prank except the very last one. We had some technical difficulties, so unfortunately the milestone and thus the entire initiative got delayed. The second dependency option (where initiative dates are automatically calculated based on milestone dates) came in super handy here! We pushed out the last milestone’s end date, and the initiative end date got pushed out as well, like this.
  • Andy: I know we still have some great pranks left to pull today, but I’m already excited for next year! We really have to get Rachel. Let’s take a look at our team’s Gantt Chart with all our sneaky April Fools plans for next year.
    • This Gantt chart is a great way to see what’s going on, as well as when it’s all happening. These initiatives are so far off, Laura and I don’t really need to see all the milestone details at this stage.
    • We just want to see everything at a high level. If that’s the case, we can edit the report and check ‘hide milestones.’
    • We can also set a timeframe for the Gantt chart report. So if we only want to see what we need to work on in early 2022, we can set the start and end dates accordingly.
    • Once we click save… we can see our updated Gantt chart!

Bonus: Data Loader Updates (13:35)

  • Laura: Those are some great tips to keep in mind for taking full advantage of ClearPoint’s project reporting abilities!  But its time to move on to the next topic!
  • Andy: Yes! Let’s talk Data Loader.
    • As many of you probably know, we are in the process of sunsetting the original Data Loader, often referred to as Data Loader 1.0.
    • Data Loader 2.0 will take its place.  This is not an April Fool’s joke.
    • The new Data Loader, which is available now, comes with some awesome new functionality that allows it to consume many more file formats and complete more tasks than update measure data.
    • Up until now, the new Data Loader has been available to Enterprise customers only.
    • But today, we are excited to announce that the Data Loader is available for every plan level!
  • Laura: Wait, even Basic customers can use the Data Loader?
  • Andy: Yes!  This, too, is not an April Fool’s joke!
  • Andy: What you can do at each plan level differs a little, so let’s quickly go over each.
  • Andy: Basic customers can use the Data Loader to create new elements, or edit existing elements in their account, such as adding a new initiative or editing the owners of your existing measures.
  • Laura: That sounds like it would be perfect for someone who is just getting started and may be making frequent changes to their strategic plan’s contents before they are finalized and ready for reporting.
  • Andy: Yes, exactly!  Many customers start with a Basic plan as they are first getting started, then upgrade to Pro or Enterprise as the reporting begins, so this is a great first place to start and reduce the time it takes to get up and running in ClearPoint.
  • Andy: In addition to adding new elements, Professional plan customers can also update measure series data and schedule uploads.
  • Laura: This sounds a lot like Data Loader 1.0, which many customers used to eliminate a lot of manual data entry and save their reporting process precious time.
  • Andy: Yes, precisely!  Once you are set up in ClearPoint, the Pro plan features are a great way to eliminate error-prone and time -consuming manual data entry.
    • Finally, we have Enterprise.  This allows for everything that you could do with Basic and Pro, plus the ability to update other element fields, such as objective analysis, initiative percent complete, and so on.  Also, you can actually configure the Data Loader to watch a file for changes, rather than relying on manual uploads or schedules.  This can be a huge help when you want a near-live integration with any of your data sources programmed to regularly export files to your Data Loader directories.
  • Laura: We’ve been helping Enterprise customers leverage the Data Loader for months–it is very exciting to think of all the time we can now save our other customers!
  • Andy: Exactly!  We are very excited to see the Data Loader used in many new ways.
    • One additional Data Loader improvement that we want to mention is the addition of a Command Line Interface, or CLI.
    • The CLI is a powerful tool that allows you to run the imports to ClearPoint without needing to interact with the regular Data Loader graphical user interface (GUI). This allows it to be simply controlled by Windows Task Scheduler or other scheduling and automation tools.
    • Don’t worry if this screen means nothing to you!  I promise you that your IT team will be able to make sense of it, and may even prefer it to the regular Data Loader UI.  We also have instructions on our website for getting started with this option.

Questions (17:17)

Laura: And with that, we’d love to use our remaining time today to open up the floor for your questions!

Question 1: Can initiatives be dependent on each other?

  • For this first version of dependencies, the answer to that is no. Initiatives cannot be dependent on each other; however, milestones within an initiative are of course dependent on each other and the milestones are dependent on the initiatives itself!

Question 2: What happens to my completed milestones with dependencies?

  • When you have a milestone that has been marked as complete, the milestone will still move accordingly if they have the start and end dates based on the dependency option, but the completed date will never change. It will stay the same no matter have the milestone gets shifted based on the dependencies.

Question 3: How do I get Data Loader keys?

  • Good question! It depends on if you are an administrator or not. Administrators need to assign keys to users. So if a non-admin users needs to use the Data Loader, it’s pretty straight forward. All you need to do is go to System Settings, Admin Options, and then click on the Data Loader tile which you will now see in the Standard Features section. It’s moved up there because basic plan customers now need access to them. And all you need to do is click the plus icon next to the user who needs the API keys. They’ll get added and then you can click the little key icon to get the keys for that user. From there, an end user can login into ClearPoint and click on the profile icon at the upper right hand corner, click on the security tab, and that is where they can grab the keys to access the data loader.

Question 4: Can one track planned and actual start and finish dates, or is there only one set of dates allowed? To allow historical tracking of meeting timelines.

  • Yes, you can add additional custom date fields in ClearPoint. So you could add a projected start date field or an actual start date field. These fields are not dependent on each other at this time. Currently only the regular start and end dates can have dependencies set on them. But you can add these other date fields if you have other important dates that you want to track!

Question 5: Do dependencies only work on Gantt charts?

  • No! Any place in ClearPoint where you can edit an initiative or milestone date will be impacted in line with the dependency option you have selected. Whether that is the initiative detail page or a summary view where you are changing any initiative or milestone dates.

Laura: Alright, well it looks like that’s all the questions we have for today! Thanks for taking the time to explore project dependencies in ClearPoint with us! We hope you can now confidently say ‘I DID know ClearPoint could do that!’. See you next time, and Happy Reporting!