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57 powerful capabilities (e.g., the ability to easily add new The what-if analysis screen implements the functionality columns of project information). of the current program analysis screen, which includes However, the spreadsheet platform also has several disad- the following capabilities: vantages. It is far too easy for a user to inadvertently over- Define scenario--this tool would no longer need to write formulas or named ranges that are needed for the tool be limited to a fixed number of scenarios; to operate properly. Data entry can be inconvenient: the user Set a project filtering condition for a scenario; must select all of the proper codes from the pick lists and is Set budget levels by budget category for a scenario; responsible for ensuring that the one-to-many relationships View, sort, and filter a list of candidate projects by between projects and measures and between projects and any project attribute; impacts are properly populated. Scalability also is a concern; Easily access the detailed project record from the the tool's performance is acceptable with hundreds of project what-if screen; candidates; but, thousands of projects would slow it down. Select and save project ranking methods for each bud- Finally, any upgrades to a spreadsheet-based tool would put get category; the burden on users to transfer their data from the older ver- Auto-select projects given the budget constraints sions of the tool. (using the existing algorithm); For all of these reasons, AssetManager PT should be Manually shift projects in and out of budget categories ported to a more stable platform with database support and and instantly view the total dollars spent (via "drag- improved user interface features that facilitate use of the and-drop" or standard tools that allow users to move tool. The research team recommends a Microsoft.NET plat- items between an "available" list and a "selected" list); form, with data stored in a relational database (either an Generate all of the existing reports and graphs show- inexpensive database that can be packaged with the appli- ing impacts of a given program scenario in a more cation or an ODBC-compliant format to allow for use with interactive fashion; and commercially available databases such as Oracle and SQL Export all information on project selections and pro- Server). gram impacts to a spreadsheet (or XML format). A high-level list of design requirements for the ported tool includes a definitions menu option, an input data menu option, The research team also recommends that the design pro- a work targets menu option, and a what-if analysis screen: cess for this full version of AssetManager PT move toward an integration of the PT and NT tools. The first logical step The definitions menu option includes seven dialogues in this integration would be to define components that can be for entering/editing definitions for shared between the PT and NT tools (particularly, configu- System measures, ration information, baseline system measures, and perfor- Network categories, mance values). These shared components can be built into Geographic categories, the full version of AssetManager PT. Then, development of Project types, the next version of AssetManager NT can include porting it Asset types, to .NET, implementing the shared components that were Performance measures, and incorporated into PT, and updating its look-and-feel to match Budget categories. that of the PT tool. The input data menu option includes submenus for proj- ect data and system baseline data: The project data option allows users to enter projects, 7.4 IMPLEMENTATION SUPPORT their impacts, and their changes in system measures FOR THE ASSETMANAGER TOOLS using a master-detail approach. The capability to customize and add new project attributes (currently The research team recommends several activities to help included in the PT tool) would be included here. agencies use the AssetManager tools effectively. At least The system baseline data option includes screens for a minimum level of user support--to answer questions, specification of baseline performance and baseline sys- troubleshoot problems, and address reported issues through tem measures. Each of these screens would have an workaround suggestions and/or software patches--is criti- import data feature (button or menu option) that allows cal. Beyond this minimum level of support, some agencies data to be replaced or refreshed from a standard text- would find external assistance useful for structuring the con- based format (e.g., XML or comma-delimited). figuration items, identifying data sources, and writing small The work targets menu option allows work targets for utility programs to translate across data formats. Addition- defined project types and geographic/network category ally, the following resource materials would be valuable to subsets to be set. support the tool implementation process and to disseminate