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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 suitable functions from each of these different kinds of programs and bundles them together in one easy-to-use integrated package.

Cost: Paid; see website for prices

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux

From the website:

Step-by-step interview

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.

Diagram view

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.

Threat rating view

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

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.

Strategic planning and monitoring views

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.

Work plan and budget views

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.

Printing and reporting

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.

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