How to Use the New Project Portfolio Attribute Form

The new attribute form introduced Bubble Chart Pro v. 6.3 has been designed to give you more precision and control in setting your SMART value score curves for individual project attributes. Included in the new form are two new SMART value score curve types and the capability of viewing your projects’ location on each curve.

In the SMART prioritization system, each project attribute (such as ROIs, risks, costs, etc.) is transformed onto a curve representing a "0" to "100" scale where "0" is the worst value (for example, lowest ROI or highest risk) and "100" is the best value (for example, highest ROI or lowest risk). These individual attribute scores are then weighted by the analyst and then the weighted scores are combined to yield the overall SMART value score for each project in the portfolio.

The SMART Attribute Curves

In Bubble Chart Pro v. 6.3 there are 3 different attribute data types: Numerical, Categorical, and Date. The SMART Attribute Curves are used for the Numerical attribute type.

1. The Linear Curve:

The Linear curve is used to represent curve-linear relationships between project portfolio attribute values and SMART values scores. The simplest relationship is the straight-line (or neutral-line) relationship (Figure 1). In this example, the attribute is "Profit" and the SMART values score increase at the same rate as "Profit" increases.

Figure 1: Each colored circle represents a project.

Figure 1: Each colored circle represents a project. Project "A" has a profit value of 3,500 and a SMART values score of 25. Project "B" has a profit value of 6,000 and a SMART values score of 50. Project "C" has a profit value of 8,500 and a SMART values score of 75.

You can also "bias" the curve by changing it from a straight-line to a curved line. This changes the the rate of increase in the SMART values score as the attribute value increases or decreases as illustrated in Figure 2 and Figure 3.

Figure 2: Increasing Rate of Return: This curve is biased toward higher profit projects.

Figure 2: Increasing Rate of Return: This curve is biased toward higher profit projects. The rate of increase of the SMART value score increases faster as "Profit" increases, therefore, projects with higher profit values have proportionally larger SMART values scores relative to projects with lower profit values.

Figure 3: Decreasing Rate of Return: This curve is biased toward lower profit projects.

Figure 3: Decreasing Rate of Return: This curve is biased toward lower profit projects. The rate of increase of the SMART value score decreases faster as "Profit" increases, therefore, projects with higher profit values have proportionally smaller SMART values scores relative to projects with lower profit values.

(Note:The blue dashed-line indicates the direction of the SMART values score increase. Moving higher from left to right indicates that SMART values score correspond to higher attribute value scores. Moving lower from left to right indicates that SMART values score correspond to lower attribute value scores.)

2. The S-Type Curve:

The S-Type or "Logistic" curve is used to represent curve-linear relationships where the SMART values scores changes slowly at the start, steeply in the middle, and slowly at the end. The simplest relationship is the symmetrical S-Curve (Figure 4). In this example, the attribute is "Probability of Success" and the SMART values score increase symmetrically at the start and end of curve as "Probability of Success" increases and rises the fastest in the center.

Figure 4: Symmetrical Rate of Return: SMART value score S-Curve is symmetrical.

Figure 4: Symmetrical Rate of Return: SMART value score S-Curve is symmetrical. The SMART values score increase symmetrically at the start and end of curve as "Probability of Success" increases and rises the fastest in the center.

You can also "bias" the S-Curve by shifting it from the center to the left or right. This changes the the rate of increase in the SMART values score as the attribute value increases or decreases as illustrated in Figure 5 and Figure 6.

Figure 5: Increasing Rate of Return: The curve is shifted to the right. This curve is biased toward higher Probability of Success projects.

Figure 5: Increasing Rate of Return: The curve is shifted to the right. This curve is biased toward higher "Probability of Success" projects. The steep rise in the curve comes later, and the rate of increase of the SMART value score increases faster as "Probability of Success" increases (past Point B).

Figure 6: Decreasing Rate of Return: The curve is shifted to the left. This curve is biased toward lower Probability of Success projects.

Figure 6: Decreasing Rate of Return: The curve is shifted to the left. This curve is biased toward lower "Probability of Success" projects. The steep rise in the curve comes earlier and the rate of increase of the SMART value score decreases faster as "Probability of Success" increases (past Point B).

3. The Step Curve:

The Step or "Incremental" curve is used to represent incremental relationships where the SMART values scores change incrementally or abruptly. The Step curve is very useful when you want to group similarly-valued projects together in increments. You can set the curve to have between 2 and 20 steps, and each step can be adjusted horizontally and vertically.

In the example shown below (Figure 7), the attribute charted is "Resources Required" and the SMART values score curve is represented by five evenly-spaced steps. This is a descending step curve because projects with lower resource requirements are preferred over projects with higher resource requirements.

Figure 7: Descending Step Curve: This chart displays an evenly-spaced descending 5-Step Curve

Figure 7: Descending Step Curve: This chart displays an evenly-spaced descending 5-Step Curve

4. Using Categorical Data:

You can also assign SMART value scores to categories and then assign projects to the different categories. In the example below (Figure 8), the attribute "Strategic Value" has been segmented into 6 categories, and each category has been assigned a corresponding SMART value score. An individual project’s "Strategic Value" can then be assigned to one of these categories using a pop-up menu on the Project Form

Figure 8: Using Categorical Data: The attribute Strategic Value has been segmented into 6 categories.

Figure 8: Using Categorical Data: The project attribute "Strategic Value" has been segmented into 6 categories, and each category has been assigned a corresponding SMART value score.

5. Using Date Data:

As a convenience, you can also store and chart date data in your portfolios, but date data are cannot be weighted or used for SMART value scoring (Figure 9)

Figure 9: Using Date Data: The attribute Launch Date has been assigned as a Date attribute.

Figure 9: Using Date Data: The attribute "Launch Date" has been assigned as a Date attribute.

The Attribute Form

By default, the projects are not displayed when the form is opened (Figure 10).

Figure 10: Default Project Attribute Form Display: The Show Projects check box is highlighted

Figure 10: Default Project Attribute Form Display: The "Show Projects" check box is highlighted. This box is checked to toggle the display of the projects and project legend.

Checking the "Show Projects" check box displays the projects as small circles along the chart curve and the chart legend shows the projects’ names and corresponding color/pattern. The projects are ordered from top to bottom in the legend to correspond to the left to right order on the chart. (Figure 11)

Figure 11: "Show Projects" Form Display: The chart displays the projects as small circles along the curve

Figure 11: "Show Projects" Form Display: The chart displays the projects as small circles along the curve and the chart legend shows the projects’ names and corresponding color/pattern.

Clicking on a project circle in the chart area displays the name and value of the project in a tooltip. Clicking on a project row causes that project to expand so it can be easily located in the chart. This is particularly useful for crowded charts with overlapping bubbles. (Figure 12).

Figure 12: Clicking on a project circle (left). Clicking on a project row (right).

Figure 12: Clicking on a project circle (left). Clicking on a project row (right).

The "Attribute Type" is selected from the "Attribute Type" pop-up menu and the "Curve Type" is selected from the "Curve Type" picture pop-up button. When the "Step Curve" type has been selected, the number of steps is selected from the "Number of Steps" pop-up menu. (Figure 13).

Figure 13: Attribute and Curve Controls

Figure 13: Attribute and Curve Controls

The Linear and S-Type curves are modified using the slider below the chart area. (Figure 14).

Figure 14: Linear and S-Type curve slider.

Figure 14: Linear and S-Type curve slider.

The Step Curve is modified by dragging a point (handle) on the corner of a "Step" (Figure 15). The points can be dragged vertically and horizontally. The points are displayed when the mouse cursor enters the chart area, and disappear when it leaves the area.

Figure 15: Modifying a Step (Incremental) curve

Figure 15: Modifying a Step (Incremental) curve

The SMART value curve slope and weight are set in the "SMART Ranking Settings" area (Figure 16). Checking the "Lower Attribute Values are Better" check box sets the slope of the curve from high to low moving left to right.

Figure 16: SMART Ranking Settings

Figure 16: SMART Ranking Settings

For an in-depth discussion on how to set and use attribute weights to prioritize projects How to Prioritize Projects in Portfolio Management

For a full description of the attribute form, including how to set default uncertainty, see The Modify Attribute Form

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