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PPA FAQs

This information applies to Predictive Portfolio Analysis (PPA), which may be relabeled as Planning for some organizations.

QWhy can't I see the PPA top level navigation link?

A. Check with your admin to ensure you are a member of one of the following groups: Organization, Resource, or Capacity & Demand. If after adding one or more people to one of these groups they still cannot see PPA, have your admin submit a Support Case to ensure that the PPA feature has been turned on for your organization.

Q. What is the difference between PPA and What If?

A. What If analysis is a more tactical capability that allows you understand the impact of unplanned work and potential changes before they occur and plan your resources based on available data. You can toggle availability and shift dates for roles, resources, and projects, without impacting production data. But the key operator here is you; you have to slide the projects around, change the allocations, be the one to think up and try out different changes. It is a very valuable capability if you know what changes to try, but it also is very manually intensive. PPA on the other hand is kind of What If on steroids - it does the heavy lifting for you. When using PPA, your business is focused on a particular financial or other numerically represented goal that you identify for the PPA engine, and then the PPA engine will determine what to change for the identified projects and resources in order to optimize achieving that goal. PPA will recommend what projects to do when and with what resources in order to best align to your organization's goal. 

Q. What do I have to have set up in the system for PPA to be able to work?

A. You’ll need to have the following:

  • A filter that identifies the set of projects you want PPA to optimize. Bear in mind that there is a 250 project limit, so the filter should identify no more than 250 projects. PPA respects project dependencies, so if you have one or more projects that must happen before others, ensure those dependencies are defined.
  • At least one numeric field on each project to be evaluated that represents the optimization field you want PPA to use.
  • Role demand defined for each of the projects to be evaluated. You do not need to have resource allocations, but you may…the PPA engine will evaluate and reallocate resources as needed.
  • Resources that have representative Primary Role assignments. They can also have Secondary Role assignments, as PPA will consider both Primary and Secondary Roles when analyzing. Bear in mind that PPA has a limit of no more than 500 resources.

Q. What do I need to do to get the most insight and value out of PPA?

A. Give it good data...think GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). Here are some recommended best practices to help:

  • Ensure the project role allocations/staffing and costing are well-estimated. The better the accuracy, the better the analysis and recommendations.
  • Model in small-to-medium chunks (less than 50% of planning horizon). Select projects whose time horizons (start to target dates) are around half the size of the PPA planning time horizon, allowing for some to be shorter or longer as needed of course. Or conversely, use a PPA planning time horizon that is twice as long as most of the projects. This allows the engine room to fit the various projects. For example, if most of your projects are 6 months or less, running a 12-month planning horizon is good. If you have projects that are 5 years long, try to break them down a bit to get better value out of PPA. One 15-month project out of 100 on a 12-month planning horizon isn't going to cause an issue, but if all of them are in the 15-month range you will see a lot of excluded projects.
  • Use project dependencies instead of super long projects. Similar to the bullet above, this makes it easier for the engine to analyze and fit projects within the planning time horizon.
  • Use a revenue metric for your optimization parameter. If a revenue metric is not possible, use score, but make sure your costs and scores are on the same scale; although any numeric project field can be an optimization field, it will help if the optimization field's values across projects are of a similar scale as the project cost. For example, often one project's cost will be double, 10 times, or even 100 times what another project's cost is, while the optimization field's values are more similar and clustered around a common number range. Given the differences in scale, for projects with such wildly varying costs that have close to the same optimization values (in the same cluster), you will see that PPA will develop a bias towards the smaller cost projects, because the bigger cost projects will never have enough score to justify their cost (which might or might not be what you want). A way to combat this is to ensure the optimization values have a similar scale to the project cost scale, which can be done by ensuring the optimization values conform to Fibonacci numbers or other non-linear numbers such as 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 (as opposed to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
  • If you want to model long-running or committed projects, either exclude & don’t use full capacity, or, include & require / keep staffing. If you exclude long-running or committed projects, you should not select the "Use full resource capacity" when creating your scenario as this will help to ensure that these excluded projects will still occur. If you include long-running or committed projects, you should select the Keep Staffing project option when creating your scenario so that again they will occur as planned. Including these projects while keeping the staffing has the slight advantage of accounting for these long-running/committed projects on the scenario output Timeline and Horizons. 

Q. Why did the PPA scenario output over-allocate resources?

A. Most likely one or more projects were selected as "Required" when creating the scenario. Required projects will be included in the scenario results even if there are not enough resources to support them, resulting in over-allocation.

Q. How do I model sustaining projects in PPA?

A. When creating the scenario and selecting projects, do one of the following when creating the scenario:

  • Select to "Exclude" the sustaining project and also do not select the "Use full resource capacity (ignores staffing from Projects not included in this scenario)" option, as you'll want to ensure PPA only considers resource remaining capacity so that allocated resources are not taken away from the sustaining project
  • Select "Require" and "Don't Move" for the sustaining project

Q. Can a project be dependent on multiple projects?

A. Yes, the Project/Project-Predecessors section is where you can create as many soft project dependencies (Finish-to-Start, no lag time) between projects as needed. PPA honors the dependencies set up in this section. Note that task-level dependencies, even cross-project task-level dependencies, are not considered by the PPA engine.

Q. Are the dates in the scenario based on the dates in the schedule tab or the dates around the allocations or both?

A. PPA looks at the longest possible span between the task dates, or project start and target dates if you are not using tasks, and allocation dates. So for example if you had a one month allocation for October 2019 and the project later had a time tracking task added for May 2020 that ended in December 2020, the time span that PPA considers would be from October 2019 through December 2020, or 15 months.

Q. For the Chart scenario output view, aside from Department, can you group the projects by Unit?

A. Yes, when configuring your optimization settings, if you pick Unit as one of the Grouping Fields then you will be able to choose it as a Group By option when viewing the Chart scenario output. Note that if you add a grouping field to optimization settings after a scenario was run, you will need to re-run the scenario in order for the grouping field to become available on the Chart tab's Group By list.

Q. What contributes to Cost in the PPA evaluation?

A. Cost comes from your demand costs (blended role rates) and project-level financial entries (forecasts). Task-level expenses will be deprecated within 2021, but until they are, any task-level expenses are also considered. Note that you have to have either role demand or project cost to include a project in a scenario, but you do not have to have both. You do have to have cost if you want to use the PPA budget feature. 

Q. Does PPA consider resource capacity multipliers?

A. Yes, the capacity multiplier on resources is taken into consideration for scenario analysis and output. For example, let's say you run a scenario and an optimization suggestion is returned that if you had 3 more Developers then additional projects could be included. One way to test how well the optimization results would turn out if you addressed this suggestion is to add a "To be hired - Developer" resource with capacity multiplier of 3 (ensuring this resource is part of the scenario resource filter) and then re-run the scenario. As another example, a part-time resource can be modeled with a capacity multiplier less than 1, so if you have a resource who works 20 hours a week (or is available to your part of the organization half-time) you can model this with a capacity multiplier of 0.5 (assuming a standard 40 hour FTE).

Q. Does PPA affect task schedules?

A. PPA does not look at tasks, it looks at project-level allocations only. It does not currently modify anything on the project at all, although there is an enhancement request in our queue to be able to apply the optimization scenarios' recommended date changes, which would shift dates in or out and include project Start date, project Target date, allocation dates, and task dates.

Q. Does PPA work when Managed Staffing is turned on?

A. Yes. PPA is based solely on roles, so Managed Staffing doesn’t play into it unless you specifically select the Keep Staffing project option when setting up the scenario. If you Keep Staffing for one or more projects, then the fully staffed allocations on those projects will be kept, but not any proposed resource allocations that are New, Requested, or In Progress.