Using “AND” Thresholds instead of “OR”
When setting up a contract in Deltek Cobra, it is important to hammer out the reporting thresholds for variance reports. Most of the time the customer will provide this, but sometimes it is left open to be negotiated. Key with threshold definition is the inclusion of both a percent complete and a dollar value. This is important so you can focus the variance reporting on the biggest hitters of a program and not spend time reporting against small, otherwise insignificant, variances that break the threshold but still represent a low dollar value.
For example, if you are working on a project that holds to a strict definition of a Control Account being anytime there is an intersection between the lowest level Work Breakdown Structure and the performing organization, you can end up with a relatively low dollar Control Accounts, say something around $10,000. If the threshold for that project is defined simply as 10%, then any variance over $1,000 dollars is going to require a full blown variance analysis. While it is true that from this specific control accounts perspective this is a “big” variance, in the realities of most programs you don’t want to focus your management analysis on such a small dollar value.
Hence why programs add a dollar threshold to the equation. Instead of just 10%, a program might define the threshold as 10% and $10,000. The “and” is key here, because the variance has to breach both thresholds before requiring a variance analysis. This is good practice because in most programs the problem can become that there are too many areas to report on/review if the thresholds aren’t defined well. Having said all of that, when you are working on a program that has two criteria that get applied for thresholds, it is important your tools recognize all the attributes of your thresholds so they support your program compliance needs.
Deltek Cobra has the ability to define both a percentage threshold as well as dollar value on any structure file associated with the program. This includes your WBS, Organizational Breakdown Structure, Resource Breakdown Structure, or any other structure you define and use on a program. This is huge benefit and allows you to zero in on your performance reporting on specific problem areas.
But…you need to make sure when you run a report in Deltek Cobra it knows how to treat those numbers. As you can see in the screen shot to the right, when you set up the thresholds there is not a field to designate if the two different variables should be considered as an “And” or an “Or”. You need to let Cobra know how it should treat the two different values when you run a variance report so it produces reports correctly. The good news is you can do that for the report header.
By default, when you run either a Contract Performance Report (CPR) Format 5 or Integrated Performance Management Report (IPMR) Format 5, depending on your contract requirements, Cobra applies the thresholds as if they are defined with an “or” between them. Meaning as long as the control account (or what ever reporting level you are running) meets with the percentage or the dollar threshold, it will produce a report for that element. To switch that “or” to an “And” we need to open up the report properties of the specific report by right clicking on the report in the “All Reports” section and selecting Report Properties.
Once in that dialog, select the “Report Definition” tab. This tab exposes some of the key report definition variables and is where we can switch how thresholds are treated by the report. Click in the body of the tab (be aware, when you first click here it will take you all the way to the bottom of the code) and scroll through the lines until you find the line that reads “<Property Name=”ThresholdFilterCompareType” DataType=”String” ReadOnly=”0″ xml:space=”preserve”>OR</Property>”. It should be at the bottom of the section, but you may have to search for it. This line tells Cobra how to treat the two variables when it is running the report.
By default, it is set to “OR”. We want to change that so it is considered “AND”. Highlight in the line where it says OR and replace that with AND. Once the change is made, apply the changes and run the report. You should see that only the elements based on reporting level, that meet both the % and Dollar thresholds appear. As always, it’s a good idea to make a copy of the report before you go in and start updating the code just to make sure you can always get back to the default should you ever need to.
And there you go, you now have an IPMR 5, or CPR 5, that produces variance reports that are based on the exclusive “AND” threshold definitions.