2.2.1 System overview
Structures for recording and communication
(Based on the operational logic of the UK Conservation Management System)

1 Information categories
2 Planning logic
3 Databasing

1 Information categories

Information about features
What are the important conservation features to be managed?

For each feature:-
What do you want to do?  (This is your objective)
Where is the work to be done?
Why is it important?
Desired state?
Present state?

Information about factors
For each objective:
What prevents you from reaching your desired state? (These are the local limiting factors)

Information about management projects
For each factor:
How will you overcome it? (The management projects)
For each management project describe:
The jobs
The timetables
The manpower
The resources
Performance indicators to check:
the work was carried out;
what was achieved.

Information about monitoring the outcomes of management
For each objective:
How will you know when you have reached the target. (The monitoring projects)
For each feature, describe  performance indicators to measured how close you are to your objective.
For each performance indicator describe:
The jobs
The timetables
The manpower
The resources

Information about reporting
What aspects of the work and its outcomes (indicators of performance) will be reported, and to whom?

2 Planning logic

The questions, and the relationships between the five sets of information, set out the logic of a management cycle.. 
      • The system starts and ends at an objective that sets a target.
      • An operational route is selected through one of the limiting factors. 
      • Each factor may have one or more associated management projects. 
      • Each project will have one or more reports.
      • Each objective will also be connected to at least one monitoring project that determines how close management is to the objective, and a report.
This one to many flow of the information defines the relational database as a record of what has been done, and also defines management procedures as a year on year process with feedback to its targets.
After completion of each management project, its results are reported against the target.  This feedback sets another cycle in motion. Feedback keeps track of the state of the feature, and is the basis for modifying the objectives and projects.  In these respects the database defines the management system as a dynamic entity.

A feature is an important element such as an object (e.g. a species), a set of objects (e.g.a wood or a view), or a facility (e.g.a building, a service, or an obligation).

An objective takes the form ‘Maintain feature ‘X’ in a favourable state, where its state is measured by ‘Y’, a measurable attribute of X’.  The target of management is to maintain the value of ‘Y’ within defined limits. ‘Y’ is described as a performance indicator and is checked out through a special monitoring project.  There is one objective for each feature.

A factor is an important local influence that prevents management from reaching the desired values for ‘Y’.   These local factors are often processes, and the aim is to deflect them through projects.

Management plan
A management plan is the total description of features, objectives, factors and projects, and the year by year work inputs and outcomes.

Action plan
The term action plan is often applied to a group of projects.

3 Databasing

The following account describes two software models for databasing and reporting on management plans.  The first example uses a set of spread sheets which are described as ‘tables’.  Tables that are linked by sharing a common piece of information are the basis of a relational database. The second example describes a diary format where notes are attached to a calendar.  The combination of notes and calendar provides a structure based on when the project begins and ends, and when the various jobs have to be done.  This type of structure is described as a ‘project manager’.

Using Tables

Tables are the fundamental elements of databases that store distinct pieces of information. It is here that the one to many relations are established by linking tables that share a common piece of information.

The following six tables are a first approach to create a database for the information gathered from page 1.

Table 1
Desired state
Current state

Table 2

Table 3
Management project

Table 4
Management project

Table 5
Performance indicator
Monitoring project

Table 6
Monitoring project
State of feature

Using a project manager

1 An action plan consists of a set of projects aimed either at managing a factor or monitoring an objective.

2 Each project consists of a sequence of tasks, which together ensure that the project reaches a successful conclusion.  The description of each project may be defined as a note.   Notes cover every item of information in an action plan -- every task, appointment reminder, etc. -- is described as a note.  Each note is related to a time schedule regarding when the task begins and ends, and may contain the cost of the task.  Notes are the basic elements of information that are filed for future reference as a record of what it has been decided should be done, when it should be done, who should do it, what resources are required, and what happened.

3 Notes are filed into categories and subcategories of the various tasks. The use of categories is central to the organization and display of notes to make project work as a system.  How you set up and manage your categories will determine how you view the information in your notes. 

4 Software has been invented to aid managers to organise their projects in terms of connecting up notes and categories in a logical manner.  The CPS project uses SoftKey Key Project Manager software to organise notes and categories.  This is probably the simplest, and cheapest software available for beginners.

Key Project Manager is a time and task manager.  It expands on the idea of a calendar program by automatically attaching notes to dates and periods without introducing the complication of full-scale project management.  Key Project Manager is especially useful for tracking and analysing how you spend your time and money.

Key Project Manager has three basic elements: notes, categories, and views.
    • The kernel of the program is the note attached to a calendar, that is, what you jot down as a reminder, appointment, deadline, etc, as well as the formal description of a task to be carried out.
    • To organize your notes you assign them to one or more categories.  As you devise your own list of categories, you are building a powerful filing and cross-reference system.
    • The third element of Key Project Manager is the view.  A view is a graphically formatted display (Timeline, Graph, Report, etc.) that allows you to review notes.  Category selection determines which particular notes (e.g., "Projects") will appear in a particular view (e.g., the Timeline). 
5 Understanding Categories

The use of categories of tasks is central to the organization and display of notes in this system. How you set up and manage your categories will determine how you view the information in your notes. 

In the KPM system a note is displayed only if there is a match between a category you select in a view and a category assigned to a note.

Categories can be arranged hierarchically, that is, they may contain subcategories.

6 Understanding Views

A view is a graphic display of notes. KPM distils information from selected notes into five different views:  Calendar, Report, Timeline, Graph, and Browser.

You can choose the particular view you wish to see from the icon bar or the View menu.

Remember that category selection determines which particular notes will appear in a view.

•   The Calendar view displays your notes in traditional diary format by day, week or month as you choose.

•   The Report view quickly summarizes time and cost information.

•   The Timeline view displays notes in a horizontal bar graph in day, week or month scale.

•   The Graph view presents the relation of cost to duration in a vertical bar graph.

•   The Browser View is the handiest way to see and change category assignment of your notes. It allows you:
    • to view a particular day, week, or month (in Calendar, Timeline and Graph views).  Set the Date Selector (lower right of home screen).
    • to maximize the size of the view window.  Click the maximize button (double-arrow always at upper right of view window).
    • to limit note text to headlines only (in Report, Browser and Timeline views).  Click the Headline checkbox (upper right of view window).  A "headline" is simply the first 40 or so characters in a note, shown as a single line.

7 Understanding KPM files

Like other databasing applications, Key Project Manager stores data -- notes, categories, etc. -- in files.  Key Project Manager files end with a ". KPM" extension.  Use the standard Windows commands (Open, Save, etc.) on the main menu to load a file into your active workspace, and save the data in your active workspace to a file. 

Key Project Manager automatically makes backups of files.  If, when saving a file, the program finds an existing file of the same name, the existing file is renamed with an extension of ".~PM".

Key Project Manager works best with small files.  Files can hold as many as 300 notes and 100 categories, but you'll find the program more responsive if you keep your files to less than half the maximum size.  When your files become large, use the Archive command to write old, outdated notes to an "archive" file.

Merge and Archive
The Merge command reads in a data file, then adds the notes in that file to the notes you're already working with.  (This is unlike the Open command, which reads in a data file, but replaces your existing data).

The Archive command writes only the currently selected notes to a file -- unlike the Save or Save As commands, which write all the notes to file.  Optionally, the command will delete the notes from your active workspace after writing the file.  This is the best way to keep your data files small.

Import and Export
Use the Export command to write the data in selected notes to a comma-separated value (CSV) file.  CSV files can be read by many other applications, such as spreadsheet and database programs.

The Import command can create notes from the data in a CSV file.

8 Summary

Project manager software such as KPM helps split up an action plan into manageable portions.  It is ideal for planning and sorting through details in the form of outlines.  It also provides access to the details. It lets you look at projects as a calendar, timeline, graph, browser or as a report. Importantly, in the long-term it provides a complete archive of an action plan that can be passed on to others, even if they use different software.