Miradi is designed to provide project teams with the essential features that they need to design, manage, monitor, and learn from their conservation projects in other words, to practice good adaptive management. Currently, most conservation practitioners go through the adaptive management process either using pen and paper, or by cobbling together functions from a wide range of programs including flowcharting, mapping, project planning, spreadsheet, accounting, and other software packages. Miradi takes the right functions from each of these different kinds of programs and bundles them together in one easy-to-use integrated package.
For a more detailed Miradi tutorial, please download the Miradi self-guided tutorial showing basic features and operation of Miradi.
Miradi's most important feature is a "step-by-step" interview mode that has been modeled after the popular tax preparation software, TurboTax. Like TurboTax, Miradi presents users with a series of friendly wizards that guide users through a structured process. Within TurboTax that process is the preparation of income tax forms according to U.S. tax law. Within Miradi, that process is the creation of project management, monitoring, and implementation plans according to the CMP Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation.
The top half of each screen of Miradi presents a context sensitive wizard that tells new users what they need to do for that step or task in the Open Standards. Users can either move sequentially through the steps, or a navigation tree accessible from a top-level menu command similar to that provided in TurboTax. This approach allows users to jump back and forth between steps as needed. If users are struggling with a question or desire further information, they can access context-sensitive help or examples from case study projects located alongside each screen. Since many planning exercises take place in workshops that are not amenable to a computer-based teaching approach, workshop hints are also available within each section. Lastly, more advanced or experienced users have the option to bypass the structured interview by entering data directly into diagrams, tables and other views on the bottom of each page.
A conceptual diagram (sometimes called a conceptual model) provides a visual overview of a project's situation in a flowchart format similar to those produced by Microsoft Visio and other flowcharting programs. In a complete conceptual diagram, the overall project scope is linked to specific conservation targets that are each in turn linked to direct threats and the contributing factors that lead to these threats. The diagram also displays the strategies that the project team is taking to counter these threats, showing the key assumptions that the project team is making about how their actions will lead to their desired outcomes. The diagram also allows users to focus on the specific results chain that they predict will happen as a result of their interventions and to determine what indicators they need to measure to test these assumptions over time. The conceptual diagram is also integrated with Miradi's other features. For example, if users undertake a threat rating exercise, the results of that rating are displayed in the diagram showing the priority threats.
Miradi guides practitioners through the process of rating direct threats to determine which are the most important to address. After users respond to questions on topics such as the scope and severity of threats, the program uses sophisticated scoring algorithms to rank the threats to determine those that require priority attention. The algorithms themselves have been developed over several years by leading practitioners and were adopted by Miradi with direct input from those practitioners. Please see the Threat Rating screenshot in the Step-by-Step Interview section above.
Viability analysis asks you to look at each of your conservation targets carefully to determine how to measure its "health" over time. And then to identify how the target is doing today and what a "healthy state" might look like. This step is the key to knowing which of your targets are most in need of immediate attention, and for measuring success over time.
In the strategic planning view, users can develop their project’s specific goals and objectives using the guidance from the interview process. The software then enables users to link specific strategies to these goals and objectives. The monitoring view helps users to identify and prioritize monitoring indicators to measure the status of conservation targets and to assess the effectiveness of their strategies. The software will also eventually facilitate the storage and analysis of key monitoring data.
The work plan view, which is similar in function to project management software such as Microsoft Project, enables users to take their strategic and monitoring plans and convert them into a series of tasks that can be assigned to different project team members. Eventually, users will be able to display these tasks in either a Gantt chart or calendar mode for either one person involved in the project, or for the project as a whole. A project team leader can assign tasks to specific individuals who then use Miradi's activity calendar to monitor progress and track results. When a deadline is approaching or a task remains unassigned, an automatic reminder is sent to team members. Miradi also enables project teams to develop financial budgets, organized by activities, accounting codes, and/or funding sources. Soon, Miradi will also provide users with tools to enter actual expenditures and to match these up to budget line items. Miradi will also enable users to report on budgets and expenditures by programmatic objectives and activities, by accounting codes, or by funding sources, using a Quicken or Quickbooks style interface.
Users will also have a number of options for printing or reporting the data they have entered into Miradi. Conceptual models, maps, project plans, and budgets will all be converted to printer friendly formats. In addition, Miradi will have a library of report templates that are designed to meet the needs of key conservation organizations and agencies. For example, a conservation organization might design a report template that would feed directly into its online project tracking system or accounting systems. Or a donor might design an application form and/or report template that would directly meet its needs. These templates will ideally be packaged with the Miradi software program so that any project can then quickly generate the reports that it needs, thus reducing current high transaction costs.
Miradi will incorporate a GIS mapping view that will enable users to display spatial maps of different aspects of their projects. The software will guide users in developing a base map of their project area, either from an image or from existing maps created in other GIS programs such as ESRI's ARC products. Through the map editor, users will be able to add graphical information such as project boundaries and the locations of targets and threats to their images. Users will be able to create multiple map layers which can be used to show or hide relevant map data.
Miradi will enable users to manage a library of images, documents, datasets, and other files related to their project. A project will be able to store and tag key information such as:
Note that Miradi will not store the information itself, but will enable project teams to catalog and manage it.
Although Miradi resides on a client's machine and can operate without a connection to the Internet, users with an Internet connection will be able to send their Miradi project data to one or more central servers. Users will have direct control over what specific data they choose to upload. They will also be able to specify whether their data are completely private, shared with a limited set of other users (for example, other projects from their organization), or available for all to see. Users will have the option of connecting to either a central database maintained by CMP or other databases maintained by specific organizations.
These databases will provide valuable data backup, but more importantly, they will serve as central repositories of information about the conservation projects using Miradi. If team members are located at different physical sites, they can use the central database to exchange information and track changes to their collective project plan. A practitioner can also search the database for other projects tackling similar issues or operating in the same geographic region. In these cases, the common data structure provided by Miradi facilitates discussion and comparisons across projects, within and across separate organizations.
There are two types of languages that are relevant to Miradi: human languages such as English, French and Spanish and the specific conservation language employed by each individual organization (for example what one group calls a "threat" another group might call a "pressure." Initial versions of Miradi will be English language-based. We plan to launch versions of Miradi in other major languages after Miradi's initial release. Miradi will also employ the conservation planning language of the CMP Open Standards. However, Miradi will be designed to allow organizations to customize the user interface with planning language specific to their organization.
We are building Miradi using a flexible design process know as Agile Development. As a result, we can build almost any reasonable feature that our users request. Let us know what you would like Miradi to do for you.