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Understanding scenario output

The scenario output is divided into 5 tabs:

All output views are read-only except the Projects tab. You can move projects between the included/excluded lists and rerun the scenario.

Output features

Every output type has the following options, represented by buttons at the bottom of the screen:

  • Export - Export scenario output details to Excel

  • Run - Run the scenario again to account for changes in the project or resource data since the last run

  • Cancel - Close the output window

In addition, the Projects output tab has additional features because you can modify its output:

  • Save - Save the scenario with modified included/excluded projects and run again

  • Save As - Save a copy of the scenario with modified included/excluded projects and run again.

  • Revert - Undo changes to included/excluded projects

About Project Shortfalls

If a project was not included in the results, it means that you can realize more value (based on the optimization parameter) by including a different set of projects, given the constraints of budget, time, and resources. For each excluded project, one or more exclusion reasons are provided to help understand specifically which of the constraining factors led to that project being excluded.

Note that the PPA system respects project dependencies, and will make sure predecessor projects are scheduled prior to successor projects. The engine will also consider the score of the entire set of dependent projects during the scheduling process.

Exclusion reasons

There are 4 reasons a project can be excluded from a scenario. Each type is represented by an icon, shown below.

2budget.png Budget -  Insufficient budget in one or more weeks of the planning horizon.

2dependency.png Dependency - Project depends on another project which was excluded or placed too late in the scenario timeline.

2resource.png Resource  - Insufficient capacity in one or more weeks of the planning horizon for the identified roles.

2timeline.png Timeline - The total length of the project, plus any predecessors, exceeds the planning horizon by more than is allowed by the partial allocation threshold.

You'll see this exclusion information when you hover over a project in the projects list, bubble chart, or timeline. For example:

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Types of details for included vs excluded projects will differ. Included projects display information such as resource recommendations, project costs and the optimization parameter value. For excluded project details, the information shown is based on why the project was excluded. For example, in the case of a capacity shortfall, the details show the shortfall by role.

It's important to note that exclusions are calculated individually. They are intended to provide a general idea of why a particular project was excluded and identify significant gaps in capacity in particular roles. There is no guarantee that increasing the budget, resource capacity, or timeline by the shortfall amount will result in an excluded project being included in a subsequent run, because other higher-value projects could be included or shifted, consuming that extra capacity. The PPA engine will always attempt to obtain the highest aggregate value of the optimization parameter, given the constraints of resources, budget, and time.

"Best Fit" dates

For each excluded project, the engine calculates the spot where the minimal shortfall will occur; for resource and budget shortfalls, these dates are presented as "best fit" dates on the Projects output tab (see below). Budget and resource shortfalls are calculated by examining the difference between the residual budget/capacity and the project's cost/demand at the point in the schedule represented by the "best fit" date. Again, remember that each excluded project is analyzed individually.

About Costs

Project costs for PPA are taken from allocations (labor costs) and material expenses (non-labor costs derived from summary tasks). Labor costs are based on role rates (not the resource rate).

A pro-rated cost is computed for the project when the scenario output is displayed. For "included" projects this will be the prorated cost for the portion of the project that's actually included in the scenario. For "excluded" projects, this is the prorated cost based on the full planning horizon (e.g. if the project is 18 months long and the scenario is 12 months long, the prorated cost shown will be 2/3 of the project cost).

About Utilization Calculations

Note that utilization calculations are influenced by the Use Full Capacity setting. If this property is not enabled, the heatmap will use available capacity across projects included and outside of the scenario. The Timeline, on the other hand, will use available capacity across projects included in scenario only. When enabled, both output types apply a resource's total capacity (ignores commitments outside of scenario) to projects included in scenario only. As a result, the "top 5" roles displayed on the Heatmap output tab may be different from the top 4 roles listed on the Project Timeline output.

Scorecard

The Scorecard tab provides a high-level overview of the output. The Optimization field is displayed at the top, and the pie charts represent the project types that fall into the included as well as excluded category. Note that the optimization value will be prorated based on the percent of the project that is included in the scenario. If you have a project where only a portion of it is included in the scenario, both the cost and value sides are prorated.  So you have a project with optimization value 1000 and 50% of it is included in the scenario, you'll get a prorated value of 500, which will contribute to the overall "score" of the scenario.

The Info icon displays the prorated value and the original value.

Residual capacity is the remaining capacity after resources that were included in the scenario have been assigned.

Resource utilization is the percentage of resources allocated (allocation/capacity).

Suggestions

PPA potentially generates optimization suggestions, which when available appear on the Scorecard tab (either next to or below the scorecard). Suggestions are generated by analyzing shortfall data and calling attention to opportunities to improve the scenario value at small incremental cost. We hope that these suggestions will help decision makers zero in on potential adjustments without having to read through all the excluded projects. The following are situations that might trigger a suggestion:

  • If at least one excluded project is missing no more than a single role, the engine will return a suggestion that references that role.

  • If some excluded project is short on budget, but is otherwise not missing any roles, the engine then will return a suggestion that references the budget shortage.

  • When an excluded project has shortfalls that are small in comparison to the incremental gain in value the schedule would enjoy if the project were included, the engine will generate a suggestion that references the incremental cost needed to include the project where cost is the sum of both resource and budget shortfalls.

  • When a group of excluded projects is determined to have a collective value in excess of 10% of the scheduled projects' value, the engine will generate a suggestion referencing those projects.

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Chart

The Bubble chart is a visual representation of your optimization results. Green bubbles represent included projects, red represent excluded projects. You can hover-over any bubble to view details.

Group By

Select a value from the Group By droplist to arrange projects according to the selected field value, if any. This droplist is configured when the PPA environment is set up and typically uses fields like Project Type, Department, Status, and so on. If there are no values in the droplist, then none were configured.

Scale

  • Choose Linear to display the bubbles sized proportionally according the value of the optimization field. For example, if the optimization values of two projects were 10 and 1000, on a linear scale the diameter of the larger bubble would be 100 times larger than the smaller bubble.

  • Choose Logarithmic to size the bubbles according to a logarithmic scale in order to provide more readable output. This scale is useful when the difference in optimization values between projects is very large. For example, if the optimization values of two projects were 10 and 1000, on a logarithmic scale (assuming base 10), log 1000 to base 10 is 3, so the diameter of the larger bubble would be 3 times larger than the smaller bubble.

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Projects

The Projects tab displays a list of included and excluded projects in the top pane. Select a project (either included or excluded), and view its contours in the lower pane.

Included/Excluded Projects

You can drag a project from one category to the other and rerun the scenario by clicking Save. The new results will be displayed in the output. If you want to preserve the initial scenario results, click Save As to rename the scenario when prompted and re-run the scenario. In addition, if you make any edits to the scenario, such as including/excluding, Save As automatically reruns the scenario.

Hover over any recommendation icon to view details.

Note that for Resource or Budget shortfalls, the engine calculates "best fit" dates, which are the dates the engine used to calculate the smallest shortfall for that particular project. See "Best fit" dates above.

Demand and Capacity

The Demand and Capacity pane displays resource-level contours for included projects. Each contour includes a resource and their capacity for that time period (either full capacity or that available to PPA, depending on the "Use full capacity" setting). It's possible to have a contour with no resource specified if you have required projects but have insufficient capacity to cover them.

For excluded projects, role-level contours include demand and residual capacity. Residual capacity (for a role) is computed by taking the total capacity available to the scenario for all resources in the resource filter who have this role (either full capacity or that available to PPA, depending on the "Use full capacity" setting), and then subtracting the role demand for each of the included projects in the scenario. Note that a role can be a primary or secondary organization role.

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Timeline

The Timeline shows a Gantt chart showing % utilization (allocated hours / capacity hours * 100) for each period for all the included projects (see Interpreting Capacity for more information). The white background represents the planning horizon. A light gray bar represents an original project, and its corresponding blue bar represent the optimized/shifted version of the project. A blue bar without a gray bar means that the project did not need to shift dates. Hover over any bar to view details.

The Bar chart at the bottom of the screen shows the top four Roles (based on highest utilized roles). The legend to the left identifies the roles.

The gray bar represents cost:

  • If you included a budget constraint amount in the scenario, the bar represents the percent of money spent in that period out of the specified budget amount for that period (budget is prorated per period).

  • If there is no budget constraint, then the bar represents the percent of actual money spent in that interval relative to the total cost of the project over the time horizon (all the gray bars will add up to 100%).

The striped bars represent resource utilization on projects not included in the scenario. You only see these bars if the Use Full Capacity option is disabled.

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Heatmaps

Heatmaps provide a visualization of role/resource utilization over a time horizon. You can display heatmaps for the top 5 roles by utilization or capacity, and top 5 resources by utilization. You can display heatmaps before optimization, after optimization, and before & after optimization together. The default heatmap type and color range thresholds are configured during PPA setup.

Note that utilization calculations are influenced by the Use Full Capacity setting. If not enabled, the heatmap uses available capacity across projects included and outside of the scenario. The Timeline, on the other hand, uses available capacity across project included in scenario only. When enabled, both output types apply resource's total capacity (ignores commitments outside of scenario) to projects included in scenario only. As a result, the "top 5" roles displayed on the Heatmap output tab may be different from the top 4 roles listed on the Project Timeline output.

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Hover over any week to view details.

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Info

The Info tab displays a summary of all the information that was fed into the recommendation engine.

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