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CDM Solutions - Project Management & Program Design

Updated: Dec 7, 2020


This post was created using speech-to-text AI.

FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)

00:00:16:16 - 00:00:57:21

Hey everybody, this is Dan Lammot from We're excited to be back today to talk with you about project management and program design in the Common Data Model for Nonprofits and the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator. Have to be honest, this is, I think, my favorite part of the model, mostly because it's this really unique combination of a results, framework, plus the connectivity to get it done, kind of project management modules that are so difficult for the sector to be able to organize around and communicate the work that they do, and then wrap that up inside of a theory of change and bring it across the fundraising and all the way down to connectivity with participants and so forth.

00:00:57:23 - 00:01:36:13

So this is definitely my favorite one. So looking forward to sharing it with you today. So as is always the case, all the documentation and resources that we're going to cover in this session are available on Microsoft docs at the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator page. And the entity relationship diagrams we're going to view our part of the nonprofit reference document that's available on GitHub with each of the successive releases of the common data model for nonprofits and the accelerator. So the one we're going to take a look at here today is this one, which is the project management and program design model.

00:01:37:16 - 00:02:08:02

So there's three different colors of entities or tables that you see on the screen. The gray and the blue and the yellow gray represent the Common Data Service entities. In this case, you can see the constituent model down on the lower left hand side. Then you have the blue, which represent the full results framework that we're going to cover in the course of the discussion today. And yellow entities are the new ones that came with this specific release in version 2.3 of this project management program design model. So the blue entities start with objective.

00:02:08:08 - 00:02:42:14

These are the highest level objectives of the organization. They might be things like global health, good health and well-being, access to education, eradicating poverty. Think of these is the big goals you see at the top level navigation on the website. And then you have delivery framework, which represents the activities that an organization is is engaged in to try to achieve those objectives. And those delivery frameworks are activities themselves can be structured. So it could be a program, could be projects within a program and activities within projects and programs and all the way down to tasks and so forth.

00:02:42:24 - 00:03:15:24

Budgets sort of tucked right there in the middle. That's your link to finance systems. That's how your organization can see the available funds or the funds that you need to seek to be able to support engaging in those activities to achieve those objectives. It's not intended to represent a full GL account management system, but it does give you the attributes that you really need to be able to see that high level budget detail. So you know what resources are available to be able to execute on those activities. And then within the results entity, you've got one really key field that stands out and that's the type.

00:03:16:13 - 00:03:55:18

And in that, you're going to see an output and outcome and an impact is the three different types of results. And after a significant amount of research, the stakeholders that contributed to this model came together and decided that within the results record, that is where that specific value would be. So you can track those quantitative outputs that lead to those short term or long term outcomes that drive those overall impacts. So really pay attention to that key field here on the results record, you're also going to see the indicators that are linked to the results, the indicator values which represent the point in time and point and location measures of those specific indicators.

00:03:56:02 - 00:04:29:23

And then the really unique thing that comes with the CDM that we've seen in the past is this connection to the benefit recipient that then links across ultimately to the constituent module, which gives you the ability to actually track those specific outputs and outcomes to the individuals, organizations and or ecosystems, animals, et cetera, that are directly participating in these type of activities. So that's what's been there since the early phases of the CDM. And with this release, what came was these new yellow entities that really take this, in my view, to kind of next level.

00:04:30:23 - 00:05:18:10

You'll see this program item entity on the left hand side. And I want to draw your attention to one of the specific fields on that, which is the type in the research that led to this through the contributing stakeholder group. It became pretty clear that it's great that you could have this results framework to actually track the results and see that activity as the anchor point where the work is getting done. But what about all the work that happens around that? Right, the ideation. The planning. The risks that are taken, the observations that are made? where do we put all of that? Most of the time that lives in Microsoft Excel or maybe a third party toolset like Asana could even be in a Microsoft project management application like Microsoft Project Online or the upcoming project operations and so forth.

00:05:18:20 - 00:05:52:17

But there was this disconnect between the results framework and the planning and execution of the work. So program item is that anchor point where that key field identifies the assumptions, deliverables, decisions, milestones, obligations, observations, risks. And of course, this is an extensible attribute as well, where you can tie those specific points to the activities, the results, the indicators, the budgets activities and so forth. So that gives you that great visibility into the planning and execution of the work, as well as to the results.

00:05:52:23 - 00:06:29:15

And of course, you can link those things down to stakeholders. And then the decision was also made to include that overarching capability around a theory of change. This is a concept that may be familiar to some and maybe not to others, but ultimately this is the expression of the sequence of cause and effect actions or occurrences which resources are assumed to be converted into the desired social results. That's a mouthful. Think of this as the hypothesis, right? This is the resonance of between what is and what could be that ultimately leads to learning and the outcome that's going to be manifest inside of those results.

00:06:30:03 - 00:06:54:06

So let's take a really quick look at about how this appears when you're inside the application itself. If you go to the project management and program design app, Inside the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator, you'll see things like a theory of change that's got community health, education saves lives. And if you click into that, you're going to see all of the relationships that we saw in the ERD across that right?

00:06:54:08 - 00:07:26:23

The objectives, the budgets, the delivery frameworks, results, indicators and so on and so forth. And if you just look for a quick example at one of the delivery frameworks that's in the sample data, this health education initiatives and community health education, you can click into that and ultimately go down to the results, look at the indicators, the associated indicator values, and track your way all the way back to the benefit recipients to see how that theory about health education manifests in positive outcomes through a training program.

00:07:27:20 - 00:07:43:17

So if you want to get your hands on this and walk through the application in more detail, you can always go to app source and pick up the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator. And that's my favorite part of the Common Data Model for Nonprofits. Look forward to sharing more with you soon.

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