MPI Version 6.0


What is new in MPI 6.0

mpibig-6-0

 

Introduction to MPI Version 6.0. Another big step forward

We at Marstrand Innovation are very proud of version 6. It is a major launch. V 6.0 contains a multitude of innovative and basic improvements. Furthermore, it is the most tested version ever. We have gone through MPI customer databases and their perspectives and tested them thoroughly on customer data.

We have also conducted a basic functional test. This has all led to several corrections and re-testing.

Our customers in Denmark and Sweden have given us valuable information and inspiration to improvements. Thank you.

MPI Scope

MPI was from the start designed as a generic platform handling the 4 dimensions:

mpi-scope

MPI is also a platform in the sense that it is extremely configurable to easily set up MPI to fit every culture and preference right down to the need of the individual user without any programming. With Version 6.0 we have reached a new level of comprehensiveness and ease of use.

The development has been focused on technical performance, usability, management information and data interfacing.

The many development points included in Version 6.0 are described below under. 10 different headings with our opinion of most important at the top of the list for each paragraph. You might think other points are more important. Each point has a reference number which you can use as reference if you want more information. We will gradually extend the documentation for each point.

About performance. Users will experience much faster response when opening perspectives from menu, faster data input, faster calculations and faster generation of management information as dashboards and spreadsheets. The smarter database interaction reduces the traffic between central database to the workstation, putting less pressure on the infrastructure and allowing more users concurrently with satisfying response times.

On usability, we introduce more display options, smarter and quicker data filters, formula based calculations. The most unique and most used function in MPI is no doubt the unique double and synchronized Gantt charts – PG with projects and jobs with resource assignments as primary access and RG with resources and assignments as access primary dimension. We have made synchronization of the Gantts even smarter.

We are confident that the novel, built in Spreadsheet functionality on web including automatic import and export from and to Excel will become a small revolution in its combination of familiar spreadsheet flexibility with database structure and interactive graphics. It will mean ease of implementation with consistent workflows combining off-line and on-line input. With this technology, we, so to speak, clean up and speed up the spreadsheet disorder, which complicates the processes in many organizations.

A similarly dramatic extension if found in the rich Business (Planning) Intelligence extension, primarily used for decision and management information. In MPI you don’t need to think in abstract data cubes but work directly on the easy to understand database where resource assignment to projects and task drive everything – capacity, capability and financials. You build intelligent dashboards on the fly, store them and distribute them on web. Analytics, status, forecasts and performance indicators as you may need.

 

The gradually enhanced platform has led to new domains of use of MPI. All based on the same standard platform. No programming, only skillful configuration. For our clients it means low total cost of ownership, safe budgets and the highest quality.

Examples of new applications based on MPI, which are handled by Version 6.0:

  • MPI CRM. Customer Relations Management which integrates sales and offer processes for project driven companies with budget- and financial control based on one common database.
  • MPI Budget. Resource driven budget management for big project organizations within IT, product and investment projects, e.g. water and spill water. The MPI concept and
  • MPI Contract. Management of contracts including documents and timelines for creation and renewal.
  • MPI Invoice. Mapping of invoices against projects and contracts as support for procurement and controllers.
  • MPI KPI. Tools to define and control performance initiatives.

More and more we define MPI as a platform for:

Corporate Performance Management.

 

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and for a brainstorming workshop.

1.     Performance. Reduction of response times with big data and complex calculations.

101 Up to 5 times faster load of data for grids in Project-, Resource- and Assignment Gantt charts.

And most important it means reduction in load of data transfer with a factor up to 20. This means more users can be active in Gantt charts without impact on loading time.

102 Resource Gantt chart loads much faster (up to 1000 times faster) when you have many assignments (> 100.000) on your resources.
103 Server side filtering of data is used whenever possible, resulting in fewer data and faster load time. Examples where this improves performance: 1) Favorite filters you may create. 2) Assignment filter on visible allocations (+ unallocated) in Resource Gantt chart.
104 Optimization of heavy account summations calculations across project work break down structures by variable calendar periods. With the SKIP button, all calculations can be started manually, so you decide when to do recalculation.
105 Incremental recalculation in all three Gantt charts of periods sums and range summations. When you for example change a man hour allocation in a specific week in Project Gantt, only that week is recalculated in Resource Gantt. This means much fewer data is transferred and you can continue work much faster.
106 General: All lookup editors only fetch the data displayed. This has huge impact, when many data are to be shown in lookup editor. Example: Parent event or project on task.
107 Dashboard: Option to skip zero records in Assignment Account Data. This reduces the memory consumption and makes the dashboard load faster when you have millions of records.
108 Project Gantt chart: Faster calculations of account summations for group rows.
109 Project Gantt chart: Much faster WBS sorting, which has impact, when showing many projects with deep WBS.
110 Project Gantt chart: Much faster load time on “blue man” used for simple assignment of resources when you have many resources to choose from. Input field popup much faster, to search and add new resources.
111 General: Blazing faster maintenance of Document Attachments. Grid with attached files loads faster. Breaking change: Grid showing all existing attached files (anywhere) is removed, because it was slow and reattachment, should be done using the original file.
112 Project Gantt chart: Faster calculation of capacity when capacity input data is used.
113 Gantt charts: The logic/calculation in graphical part of Gantt is no longer updated when Only Grid is selected.
114 Shorter MPI start up time.  Preload of third party UI components.
115 Account Results is now much faster. Account Results is used to export account data in record format. It can be presented per day, week or month. Account Results can use the new account formula expressions.

2.     Planning Behavior and Tools. Better synchronization of information.

201 Smarter synchronization of Gantts which will make it easier for the project or resource management to assign resources without having to switch focus back and forth. For example, if you want to find all resources on the selected projects, this is now possible directly from the Project Gantt chart. Just right click and select Locate Actions menu point. This also works the other way. In resource Gantt, you may select one or more assignments for a resource and Project will filter or highlight the activities in the relevant Project or projects. This works in all Gantt charts, including the Project Portfolio scatter diagram.
202 Standard- and project pricelists. Any changes in pricelists must now be persisted from a selected date – so no rates are changed by mistake on historic data. A standard pricelist can be changed to a project pricelist only related to that project. A pricelist can be setup to change from a given date (multiple variations are possible). Pricelists are extended with fixed rates to convert direct cost to revenue with/without profit. Important feature also for Budget Management.
203 Option to show only selected resource candidates in Resource Gantt while assigning them in Project Gantt. While assigning a resource, it is shown highlighted in Resource Gantt chart to allow you to check available capacity and control potential bottlenecks.
204 Smarter distribution of planned hours and other account values on detailed periods, e.g. from weeks to days or month to days: Water fill on periods with capacity. Example: One person is booked Wednesday, same person is booked in week, Wednesday is not overbooked, if total load in week is not above capacity. All days in the week is allocated evenly, like filling a bucket with water.
205 Smarter account distribution: Forward Fill-up on periods with capacity. Example: One person is booked Wednesday, same person is booked in week, week allocation on days are done from Monday to Friday (forward) utilizing (filling up) the available capacity on each day. Wednesday is not overbooked, if total load in week is not above capacity.
206 Orange and green men added like blue man in Project Gantt chart for easy assignment. Orange man is for “Is Supplier” resources while green man is for “Is Customer” resources. Both defined by a checkbox with same name on resource. This is used when MPI is used for Contract Management.
207 Duplicate a project in Project Gantt chart can now include notes and attachments on request, a dialog is displayed allowing you to choose.
208 Using actions in Project Gantt chart is improved. Actions are checklist points not affecting the WBS. Improvements: 1) Deletion of action in action popup grid is now possible. 2) Add Action in Project Gantt from right click menu. 3) Actions do not affect summary/project duration. 4) Action popup list on tasks in Project Gantt chart.
209 Notes: Show task notes in Notes Viewer on selected contact person.
210 Resource category added to task to define the pricelist category for all assigned resources. Category on task overrules any category on assigned resources. As an example, this is used in Budge Management, when assigned resources are departments and task (budget line) defines the cost/sales rates (own, nearshore, offshore,).
211 Subprojects inherit pricelist from main project, if they do not have one. This makes it possible to let subprojects have own rates defined.
212 Inherit color from template project to new project created.
213 Account formulas are now defined as a simple expression, instead of previous “tree” definition, where all the intermediate results had to be an account.  Makes it much easier to setup complex calculated accounts.
214 Copy Account can do account summations on specific tasks on given financial accounts. With this you can make a simple calculation of the hours your department resources are spending on other projects belonging to departments outside your department. This can be converted to a revenue for your department and a cost for the lending departments, using MPI pricelist.
215 Make account snapshot to copy actual/budget values to “safe” read only accounts. Make Snapshot is a simple tool that allows you to make a total copy (snapshot) of given accounts posts. This allows you to make as many budget versions (or baselines) you like. Accounts are copied too, allowing compare between current and different previous snapshots. A Snapshot Selector is available in the Gantt charts, to be used to switch easily between snapshots and compare.

3.     Usability

301 Button to explain active filters on Gantts and other grids: Have you ever wondered why you don’t see any projects listed in Projects Gantt chart? This might be due to a combination of the many filter options that MPI offers. Now all active filters will be listed by pressing the new button “Show Filters” (ribbon Tools), helping you to understand the filter setup.
302 Existing favorite filter can now be deleted, edited, imported and exported. We recommend using favorite filters because they are the most performance effective grid filter type. Making a filter a favorite filter makes it work directly on the database before the grid is loaded, reducing the amount of data transferred.
303 Project Selector improved: 1) Project form within project selector, to show details on selected project. 2) Project filter and favorite filter added. 3) Individual project select in Project Selector, is Main Project selected only main project is selected, no subprojects are included. 4) Let Project Selector push selected project, so Project Pricelist will show the correct project.
304 Input in account cells (Gantt charts) are made faster and more user-friendly. You can now navigate in as many input cells you want using mouse click without changes are saved before ENTER is activated. Modified cells are colored.
305 Navigation: Jump between visible panels using F8, so that you do not have to use the mouse.
306 F5 can now be pressed anywhere, including dashboard, to reload, recalculate and refresh data. Earlier this was only possible, when grid had focus.
307 Views in menu for configuring perspectives are now sorted alphabetically and search by key word is possible.
308 Allow users to deselect required data upgrades in Data Upgrade Manager.
309 Default organizational role is now set on all new assignments fetched from the resource. Assigning a resource using the blue man will then set a default organizational role.
310 Start date of Gantt charts can now be controlled by Startup Start Date setting in Gantt chart toolbar.
311 Manage Document Attachments has been much improved, faster and easier: 1) Attach folder and multiple files in one click. 2) Rename of attachments now possible. 3) Show only attachments, when right clicked on attachment icon. Important for Contract Management.
312 New subproject (form) added to Project Gantt.
313 Account Copy extended with date range and negation option.
314 Spreadsheet Gantt now uses alpha color to improve readability of account values.
315 Grid: In cases where a group row only contains one row, the group row is not needed. This is now possible with advanced option “Allow Partial Groups”, accessible from right click menu. This allows you to save screen space by hiding those group rows that contain a single data row. In these cases, the data rows will be displayed in place of group rows.
316 When dashboard is calculating and preparing data for presentation, a loading indicator is now displayed, if processing takes more than 3 seconds. Then you know MPI is working hard collecting fresh dashboard data for you.

4.     Advanced filters, groupings and Business Intelligence. Dashboards.

401 Project- and resource filters now available in dashboard data source assignment account data
402 Extended dashboard data source assignment account data with option to transpose account data, get one record per selected account
403 Extended dashboard data source assignment account data with follow project selector.
404 Option to use external actuals in dashboard assignment account data, External Time registrations extended with Account, Event, Resource, Project Department and Resource Department. Option to filter data by My Department or My Business Area, allowing to make reports for department and business area managers.
405 Project Gantt Filter By extended with Actions.
406 What to display in group row (Project Gantt), extended with Only Account
407 Save space in grids. Grid advanced option: Partial groups, allows you to save screen space by hiding those group rows that only contain a single data row. In these cases, the data rows will be displayed in place of group rows.
408 Grid: With grouping in grid, you would often want to get summations direct on the group row and aligned with column. This is now possible with advanced option activated from right click menu “Align Group Summary in Group Row”. Forcibly move group footer summaries (which reside in group footers) to positions in group rows under corresponding column headers. Group footers will thus be hidden.
409 Project portfolio list now contains all budget/forecast fields.
410 Supplier Invoice extended with custom properties. Supplier Invoice is used to import invoice (recorded or not) and match information’s in the invoice to existing projects and suppliers in MPI. When real project and resource (supplier) is set on the invoice, this can be used to locate tasks assigned to supplier or added extra attributes to the invoice/supplier helping you with a supplier analysis.
411 Filter on type (task, customer, contact) in View Notes.
412 Filter assignments in project Gantt by selected organizational role in another project Gantt. This is used by a customer to narrow down the assignments to view and edit to the one related to a selected organizational role.
413 Spreadsheet now also has year as time unit.
414 Assignment Gantt chart now has the same Assignment Filters as Resource Gantt chart. As example, show only assignments with allocations in the visible Gantt chart timeframe.
416 Skip row without data option added to #TASKS and #MYTASKS. This allows you to make a compact My Tasks spreadsheet only showing lines with allocations.
417 Added “Project where I am department manager” and “Resources where I am department manager” to project and resource filters.
418 Each time an event (project, task,…) is created, a unique serial number is set, to help identifying the project/task by a simple number. Using MPI as a contract system, projects are contracts, and S/N is a contract number. We therefore added S/N to Parent lookup list as default, because this can be used to identify the project/task/contract. By this it is easy to add a sub contract to a main contract.
420 Project Gantt: Display Kind extended with Only Values. No bars are displayed – only values. This is usable when configuring Project Gantt to display budget data only.

5.     Execution

501 Allow submit and approval of other accounts than Time Registration in My Timesheet. Can for example be used for KPI registration, absence requests and other values, e.g. money values.
502 In order to do correct salary (cost) calculations based on time registrations, having different rates related to overtime intervals, we have created a new list (External Time Registrations) in MPI to hold very detailed time registration information’s. This details information can be aggregated into hour sums, per day/week/month, but still with an option to popup the detailed information on the aggregated sum in Gantt charts. Another tool “Cost Profile Adjustment” is able to do a cost calculation based on the detailed time registrations. Further the calculated cost can be adjusted to fit an expected total cost. This helps you balance the cost on all projects, to let this MPI project cost information be a feedback to your ERP system.

6.     Data Editors

601 Multiple choice can be created on the fly related to Project, Customer, Customer Contact or Log. When created, a multiple choice is available as column in grid and editor in form. For example, used for checking combination of customer contact interest profile. This is a must have feature in a CRM setup.
602 Automatic generation of Tender Number defined for Project. Editor contains a buttons, when clicked a new tender number is drawn, currently with format yyyy-0000, yyyy is current year, 0000 is a sequence number within year.

7.     Budget

701 Financial cost/revenue accounts defined on tasks.  This allows you to relate any physical input like hours, and the pricelist generated cost and revenue result to a specific financial account number. This makes it possible to make a complete Profit & Loss overview where you can drilldown to financial accounts.
702 When a financial cost/revenue account is set on a task, you are linking any physical unit, cost or revenue to a financial account. Financial accounts are both for cost and revenue defined by kind. The financial account, holds up to 5 sorting/grouping texts that defines the financial account breakdown. Grouping by them in Project Gantt chart lets you see hours, direct costs, resulting cost and revenue from a financial account breakdown perspective. Finance Sort 1-5 on task, can be used for grouping in Gantt and P&L dashboard.
703 When a financial cost/revenue account is set on a task to link any physical unit, cost or revenue to a financial account, it will be possible to filter tasks in Project Gantt chart according to the input U/M on financial account. This allows you to shown only budget lines (tasks) related to time input affecting cost. Input U/M can be Time or Amount. A financial account is either cost or revenue related.  Filter By in project Gantt is extended with: Cost Time Input, Cost Amount Input, Revenue Time Input and Revenue Amount Input. All controlled by Financial Account property Input U/M.
704 Our Project Gantt chart is a powerful tool to display projects and WBS, with graphical details and account values by choice. Furthermore, multiple grouping on any columns is possible, resulting is completely new ways to look at account data. The new financial account, holds up to 5 sorting/grouping texts that defines the financial account breakdown. Grouping by them in Project Gantt chart lets you see hours, direct costs, resulting cost and revenue from a financial account breakdown perspective. In this mode, you properly do not want see anything other than values in the “graphical” part. To do this, we added an extra option to “What to display in group row”. New option: Only Account, map will not show.
705 Resource category is introduced as a smart dimension for overview in complex resource set ups to control and standardize outsourcing with optional financial accounting and pricing.

The challenge is, that you might as a project manager want to outsource work to other departments or organizational units, e.g. to a Nearshore development unit in Poland or elsewhere. That might be done from many projects in different departments. You want to see the total load assigned in this way to such units coming from external sources and compare this with the capacity in the unit in the normal red-green diagram. You also want to calculate cost (and revenue) based on the unit’s rates instead of the rates from the sourcing unit on the task and thereby contribution to the entire project.

We introduce a new field: Resource Category to handle this. When you define the task you also set the resource category (own, nearshore, offshore,…). With this reference, MPI uses the pricelist for the category to define task cost/sales rates and to the defined financial account.

On the other dimension, Nearshore capacity is defined by summing up all the named nearshore people with nearshore resource category set and with reference to outsourcing department.

Resource- and Assignment Gantt chart Display are extended with “Red/green Event Resource Category Map (account/capacity)”. This allows you to make a red/green display of the load on specific resource categories, defined by resource category set on task. Capacity is defined by the resources with same resource category. The same applies to cost and revenue calculations.

This means that all assignments automatically are linked to the desired financial account depending on the category. In the profit and loss statement you will get lines for each category summed up across projects.

Example: Nearshore is a resource category. Nearshore is set on a budget line (task) and any budget/role/department resource assigned to this nearshore task will get nearshore cost/sales rates, and hours allocated are nearshore hours.

706 It is always possible to display two account values (actuals and budget) side-by-side, but sometimes you may just want to see actuals to a given date, and after that date only budget values. This gives a much more compact and clear budget/forecast overview. Actuals/Budget Mode (in Project Gantt and dashboard) will merge (switch between) actuals and budget values into one cell. This also affects any bottom/up summations and grouping summaries in Project Gantt and dashboard. Actuals End Date in settings to define actuals range, after date budget is displayed, before actuals are displayed. Actuals data can be made read only by a switch in settings.
707 Actuals End Date can now be from/to in Date Range Filter.
708 Before negative (minus) could not be used in account cell values, because it would activate the popup cell calculator. This is now possible.
709 Possible to prevent edit of budget account cells by setting Is Budget Locked (on task/project).
710 Project Status Report is extended in many areas regarding better project budgeting:

1)      An Approved Budget (matrix with accounts and time periods) to enter values manual.

2)      A Baseline Budget (manual, copy of approved budget or planned).

3)      Planned is the result of the current plan.

4)      Forecast Budget is plan/budget, actuals, provision, not allocated and forecast is the sum of all before split by a date, actuals before date, plan/budget after.

5)      Not Allocated is a simple list, where expected costs can be entered before adding them to plan/budget, a kind of reservation.

6)      Not Allocated Overview is a list of bottom/up summations if sub projects exist.

7)      Housekeeping is also a simple list to maintain a log of budget changes.

8)      Resource Budget Follow-up contains many values/KPI’s on how the project is performing. Example: In last report, how did we budget for this month compared to the actuals.

9)      Historic WBS is a snapshot of the WBS + a lot of account summation data.

10)   Business Case is a simple spreadsheet to contain business case information’s.

11)   All the data mentioned can be used in Project Portfolio grid and dashboard. You can compare approved budget with forecast as an example.

711 Creating and updating multiple project status reports is made a lot easier. Projects can be marked with “Is Report Required” to indicate projects status reports are required.
712 Workflow status is added to project status report, to lock report when approved.

8.     Data Interface. Advanced spread sheet functionality.

 

801 New view to export account data (periods summations). It is very powerful tool to export account data to external systems (ERP). Event Account Result can create display of events/assignment by row or columns. The output is much like what you get in Assignment Gantt chart.
802 Imagine that all your project budget/forecasts exists only in multiple Excel spreadsheets. How to get budget/forecast data from spreadsheet into MPI without having to do a lot of work converting a matrix like input to something record based? It’s very easy, MPI can read your existing Excel spreadsheets as-is, you just need to instruct MPI where to find relevant data. This is done by our groundbreaking MPI spreadsheet. Our spreadsheet tagging allows you define instructions on how to input and output data. Following tags are added: #IDPROJECT and #FAPOST. They make it possible to import financial account post data from Excel files. #IDPROJECT identifies the project, f.ex. by project number and #FAPOST can transfer values from the Excel sheet to MPI accounts, it looks for financial account numbers, and instructs where to find budget data. A complete budget sheet in Excel per project can be imported in MPI as-is.
803 Spreadsheet: #ICAPACITYINPUT added to spreadsheet, makes it possible to import resource capacity input from Excel files.
804 Option to fix orphan post event by creating new task on project number and account number. Job Logs will contain detailed information’s. Important when you implement data input or output automatic jobs. This also ensures your project budget is extended automatically with budget lines, if actuals are appearing on financial accounts that you did not budget on.
805 Command line option to export Gantt chart data.
806 Option to synchronize External Id by Project Number + Financial Account, this allows import actuals based on project number and financial account number.
807 It is now possible to open/import encrypted Excel files.
808 External Time Registrations is a new import table of detailed time registrations. In fact it can be any account, not just time registration. Multiple accounts can be contained in the table. This table can hold multiple occurrences of the same day for the same task and resource. This could be time registrations of different salary types (normal and overtime), or actuals (time, cost or revenue) with relation to the department (cost center). The latter is relevant, when people or projects within your organization move between departments, and you want to keep record of the exact cost center.

All detailed data can be aggregated into one single post record, but still with references back to the details. Details are shown in popup grids on request. Further details can be used directly in dashboard (Assignment Account Data).

9.     Security / Data Integrity

 

901 Security role can no longer be deleted when users are assigned to it.
902 Supplier Invoices: Match in Supplier Invoices do not overwrite already matched properties. Progress dialogs in Match and Relink.
903 Account summations are live calculations bottom/up, and they can in some cases be very time consuming. It is therefore very important, that we only calculate data needed and when needed. Therefore strategy for when calculations are performed in account summation columns have been changed to happen when the grid requests the data, instead of a total post calculation.
904 A mandatory rule can be setup on any field. The rule can also define a minimum and maximum length of a text. Validation of uniqueness can be applied. Rule can be related to Main Project alone, only New data or template data.
905 External read only rule can be setup on any field. When Origin = External or ERP then marked fields are read only.

10.     Miscellaneous

 

1001 Start and Finish in Project Gantt are now default dates, to display hours just right click column (in design mode) and select format.
1002 Locate in Project Gantt can now be deactivated by selecting None option in dropdown list.
1003 Word wrap in print is now fully supported.
1004 F9 is no longer available to do total recalculation, because it was too easy to hit F9, and start a time-consuming process. Recalculate is still available form ribbon Tools.
1005 Grid: Extended lookup field list with fields like Kind. Added Integer as type, so that S/N is now an integer instead of a decimal number.
1006 Negative capacity input is now allowed. This is relevant, if the total capacity of a department is to be reduced, without showing details. You just have an adjustment resource in the department, where a negative capacity is given, total capacity sum of the department will include capacity from all resources in department.
1007 Grid: Allow zero width columns in grid, to “hide” column.
1008 Database information is shown in database schema has changed dialog. This is helpful when many database connections are used.
1009 Project Number is no longer read only on external data, this allows you to change it, after a local project has been synchronized with and external project from SAP, as example.
1010 Use Attachment Root Path as default directory when browsing in Maintain Attachment.