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Choosing How to Treat Missing Metric Data in Equations in 2.14

Scott O'Reilly, May 23, 2016

When a metric isn’t updated, it is null. It shows up as gray in the software, and in the past it would always force all equations that reference that metric to also be gray for that period. In the latest version of the software you can now choose how to handle missing metric values in equations.

There are three options. “Make equation blank” is the default and it makes the software work as before. Any missing value makes the equation null for the period. “Treat as 0” will make any missing values in the equation get the value of 0. “Ignore” means that it will just remove missing metrics from the equation.

Aggregation Type for Calculated Metrics in 2.14

Scott O'Reilly, May 5, 2016

When a metric or one of its thresholds is calculated, there is now a “Calculated Aggregation Type” choice for the metric.

You can choose either the same aggregation type as the non-calculated metric data, or you can choose “Use Equation”.

The reasoning behind this new enhancement is a little complicated, so it’s helpful to know its history.

A popular feature in the software is the ability to view a metric in a larger calendar view and automatically see the metric’s totals for that larger calendar. For example, if you view a monthly metric in yearly mode, the software will use that metric’s aggregation type to aggregate the 12 months into a yearly total. Metrics can have an aggregation type of sum, average, or already aggregated (uses the last value).

For calculated metrics, things are a little different. In the past, the software only used the “Use Equation” aggregation type for calculated metrics. This approach aggregates each of the metrics in the equation first, and then plugs the aggregated values into the equation. Here’s an example to help make things more clear.

Let's say you have a calculated metric for the percentage of airline flights that serve meals. It's an equation based on two monthly metrics: "number of flights with meals" divided by "total number of flights".

January: 2 flights with meals, 4 total flights = 50% with meals
February: 2 flights with meals, 100 total flights = 2% with meals

Now, what should the total percentage be for January and February? The correct way is to add up all of the "flights with meals" and divide that by the sum of the "total flights". We're aggregating each metric and then plugging the aggregated values into the equation.

Total: 4 flights with meals, 104 total flights = 3.8% with meals

In this situation it wouldn't make sense to first evaluate the entire equation for January and February and then aggregate those values. If we added the months it would be 52%. If we averaged the months it would be 26%.

Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work for all calculated metrics. There are times, for example, when we want the yearly value for a calculated metric to just be the sum of that year’s months. In order to do this, we added the ability to choose how a calculated metric is aggregated. In the “Calculated Aggregation Type” dropdown, users can either choose the traditional “Use Equation” approach, or they can choose to aggregate the metric in the same ways as a non-calculated metric – sum, average, or already aggregated.

Importing New Types of Data with Connect in 2.13

Scott O'Reilly, May 2, 2016

Connect is our data import tool that can connect to data sources and use them to import data into the software on a scheduled basis. Connect is now able to import types of data that haven’t been possible in the past.

When importing metric values, there is now an optional “Comment” field. This allows users to import period-specific comments along with their metric values.

There is also a new “Tags” column when importing scorecard structure. Users can import tags that are separated by a comma.

The largest change to Connect is the new “Update Initiative Status” import type.

An initiative status update is very similar to a metric value update. The only difference is that action plan status updates have different columns:

  • Initiative Name
  • Date
  • Percent Complete (optional)
  • Actual Cost of Work Performed (optional)
  • Comment (optional)

Scores in Metric Equations in 2.13

Scott O'Reilly, April 28, 2016

Hierarchy object scores can now be used in metric equations. The new syntax to reference a score in the current period is:

S(node_id)

And a score from the previous period is:

S(node_id,-1p)

History Records for Deleted Users Are More Useful in 2.13

Scott O'Reilly, April 25, 2016

In the past, when a user was deleted, their audit history records were either deleted or not useful. The software now remembers the names of deleted users and displays them in the history.