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Blueprint Resources

The material below is intended to help you get started.  Should you have questions, please e-mail us at [email protected].

  • The Video Guides section provides short 3-5 minute video snippets on each section of Blueprint.
  • Let’s Get Started is a step-by-step guide to just creating your first items in Blueprint.

User Stories and Use Cases

  • A new CIO
  • A CIO demonstrating value for an organization

Feature Guides

Getting Started

Conceptual Data Model

Blueprint Conceputal Model

Making a Blueprint

So you’ve signed up for Blueprint (thanks by the way) and now you’re staring at a blank screen wondering what to do.

This can be pretty scary.  Well don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

This tip is the first in a series to help you get started using the tool and get value for your organization as well as your investment of time and money.

NOTE:  For now we are going to avoid the concepts of blueprint templates, but we will come back to these later as another quick start technique.

So where do you start?  First let’s start by hopping on the system.  Let’s login.

Simple.  Create a blueprint.  Create anything just to start.  You can always edit it later or start over once you get the hang of it.  Nothing’s set in stone and you won’t break anything.

So, today, let’s just start by creating the basic blueprint container.

Click “Blueprints” on the left-hand menu panel and then click “My Blueprints” 

Once you click “My Blueprints”, you will see a blank screen.

Type “My First Blueprint” and click the “Add” button.  

Voila, your first blueprint.  Don’t worry about the name.  You can always change it.

Click “Edit”, type a description (like – “This is my sample blueprint.”) and then click “Done”. 

Now you have a blueprint that is named and has a description.

See.  That wasn’t so bad.  And trust us, it doesn’t get too much harder from here.

The next tip will help move you through the “Foundations” module.

In case you want to come back to this guide, you can find it on our website under resources.

Forming the Foundations

In the last segment, we started by simply creating a blueprint container.  While this may have seemed easy at the on-set.  It was a critical step.  A blueprint holds everything.

So now it’s time to start building the blueprint out – and so we will start with the Foundations.

So login and let’s get started…

When you open a Blueprint, you will be welcomed by a blank, albeit daunting dashboard.

Let’s skip this for now and go to the Foundations page.

Click “Foundations on the left navigation pane. 

Now, you will see the blank page with no foundational elements.

No worries.  It’s quite easy to add a few.  But first a quick set of definitions.  A function is something your organization does, and an influence is something that can have an impact on your day-to-day decision making.  Easy enough…

NOTE:  The difficult part is for you to determine at what level of detail you want to capture.  You may want to stay at a very high level and have functions that might be appropriate to describe to someone else what you do.  Others might prefer more detail and have functions that resemble deeper business capabilities.  The choice is yours.  Either is correct as the purpose is to have a discussion and set the direction for your team.  In addition, you can refine these over time.

Click “Add” then enter “Build products” as the title, “Minimal” as the level and “Function” as the type.  Then click “Save”

You now have a function

Rinse and repeat for creating an influence.

Click “Add” then enter “Laws” as the title, “Significant” as the level and “Influence” as the type.  Then click “Save”.

You’ve now completed your first function and influence and have used 90% of this module of the software.

Another key feature would be to add a hyperlink in an influence or function if it’s valuable.  However, this isn’t a required feature, just a way for you to provide a richer context.

NOTE:  Don’t get lost spending time in this module.  You can come back over time and add/edit/delete and generally refine.  Don’t expect to get this perfect in one pass.

Congratulations.  You’re on your way to defining the foundational elements of your organization!

Setting the Direction

In the last segment (Forming the Foundations), we started by simply creating a test function and influence.  While this may have seemed easy initially, these functions and influences help define the heart of an organization.  Taking time to properly describe your organizational foundations is critical.  But now it’s time to move past that.

Now, we are moving on to establishing directional elements for your organization.  But to start, let’s define our terms.

  1. Outcomes are aspirational or directional statements about a result that you want to see.  It will typically have language like “increase …” or “decrease …”  In short, an outcome describes something you want more or less of.  These are the why of your plan and thus the larger context
  2. Milestones refer to specific target you want to hit such as “Build software by end of summer.”  There is a concrete, measurable objective you can hit or not.  These are the when and how much of your plan.
  3. Approaches are your core strategies to realize your outcomes.  They describe the high-level actions you will undertake to achieve your definition of success (i.e., outcomes and milestones).  These are the what of your thinking.

So now it’s time to start building out our directions.  But first, let’s login.

When you open our Blueprint and then click the Directions tab on the left, you will see a screen like the one below.

So let’s get started and add some items.  We’ll keep them simple for now.

Under Outcomes, enter “Increase revenue”.

Under Milestones, enter “Close the fiscal year at $10M in sales”.

Under Approaches, enter “Advertise on social networks”.

Now your screen will look like the following:

Congratulations.  You’re off to the races.

But let’s add a little secret sauce to your strategic planning.  Blueprint allows you to link items together.

So, click red link icon within the “Increase revenue” outcome.

Now the Outcome card turns to green and link icons appear in the milestones and approaches items.

Now click the “+” for the milestone and the approach.

And they will now turn to blue to indicate the items are linked.

Don’t worry, you can unlink them, simply by clicking the “-“ where the “+” was.  You can also remove the highlighting for these items by clicking the green link icon on the green selected card.

Congratulations, you now have a strategic plan.  Sure it’s primitive, but it’s the beginning of something great.

NOTE:  Each element that we have talked about also has the ability to contain a description, an importance rating and a link to an external reference.  These are features that you can use as you need.

Building a Portfolio

So, you’ve created a blueprint, entered functions & influences and just recently created directional elements.  Now, it’s time to build some projects and see the software come to life.

NOTE:  As a disclaimer, the Portfolio module in Blueprint should not be confused for a project management tool.  Blueprint only keeps very basic, and mostly forward-looking, information concerning projects:

  • Name
  • Description
  • Start Date
  • End Date
  • Internal Costs
  • External Costs

The primary purpose here is to ensure we are investing in the right areas.

So now it’s time to start building out our portfolio.  But first, let’s login.

When you open our Blueprint and then click the Portfolio tab on the left, you will see yet another blank screen.

So let’s get started and add some items.  We’ll keep them simple for now.

Under Portfolio, click “Add”.  
Type a project name and description.
Click “Save”.

Congratulations.  You’re the owner of a new project…

But let’s add a little detail to the project.

So, select the project and click the “Edit” button which is the blue button with the pencil and box icon.
Enter a start date and end date.
Add some costs for internal costs and external costs and then click “Save” in the upper right of the project screen.

Congratulations!  You now have a full project.

Now to start some of the real power of the software, let’s add an allocation to our project.

NOTE:  An allocation is simply our term for you determining how much of the total project investment goes to support or achieve a milestone in the Directions module.  Simple.  And after you understand this piece of the software, you will have mastered the most complex aspect.

Once again, click the “Edit” (blue pencil) button.
Scroll to the bottom of the project edit screen where you see the row showing milestones from the Direction page.
Click the “Attach” button and then the “Edit” button and enter a dollar amount and then click “Save”.  Then scroll back up to the top and click “Save” for the project.

Well done!  You’ve now created a strategic link between your project and your desired outcomes.

Gaining Insights

So, you’ve created a blueprint, entered functions & influences, created directional elements and just recently added a project or two.  Now, it’s time to gain some insights and see the software work for you.

The primary purpose here is to ensure we are investing in the right areas.  So there are two panels to help you get different views of your data.  The dashboard of the blueprint provides some dials that show breakdowns across various aspects, so feel free to poke around there to get a better understanding.

But let’s focus on the Insights module for just a moment.

While there are multiple charts and graphs for you to review, we want to highlight two, to get you going.

The first is “Strategic Value Summary”.  This chart gives you a view of your portfolio with a different focus.

NOTE:  You may need to define some more directional elements and projects to see the real value, but I’m sure you can use your imagination to start with.

There are three key dimensions in this graph.

  1. The horizontal axis shows how long a project will take to complete.
  2. The size of the bubble shows how much the project is going to cost.
  3. The vertical axis shows the strategic value of the project.

A good place to start is to look for projects that are costly, lengthy and provide low strategic value and then ask yourself if you should be doing them…

The second chart is “Spend by Outcome”.  This chart helps you understand your investments in what you want as your critical outcomes.  And where you see little money on an outcome that’s important to your organization, you can once again have the discussion on whether that’s a real outcome, or just a hope; and then you can follow-it up with questions around creating projects to make the outcome a reality.

There are other charts and graphs that you can look at as well, and these simply provide different cuts of the data you entered.  They will be more or less meaningful based on what you are trying to look for; but we tried to start off with a set of initial analysis to help provide basic insights to your data.


Going Social

Collaborating with others can be a powerful tool for defining and communicating success.

In short, Blueprint allows you to create blueprints that you can invite others to experience.  You can add them as “editors”, in which case, they can make changes to your blueprint; or you can invite them as “viewers” and as the name implies, they can only see the content of your blueprint.

So why is this powerful or even valuable?

At some point, you will make a blueprint for your organization and ensuring that you and your boss agree is a powerful understanding, but shortly thereafter, you will want your team to understand how you define success.  Everyone on the same page, rowing the same way, insert another metaphor of your liking…

You get the picture.  Allowing others to see what your thinking is powerful.

NOTE:  Viewer licenses are free forever, so send them off to to get started.  Once they create a user, you can share your blueprint with them.  They will also get a 14-day free trial license as an editor.

Now, let’s share our blueprint with someone.

NOTE:  You can revoke sharing at any time, and this event will be immediate for the other user.  If they try to reload a page or even save an object, either action will be rejected.

Login to the system and open your blueprint.
On the left-hand navigation pane, click “Collaborators”.
Enter a user’s e-mail address and the role you want them to have (i.e., Editor or Viewer).
Click “Invite”.

You’ve now sent them an invitation (or received an error message if they aren’t a registered user) and can soon start working with them on your Blueprint.

NOTE:  The other user will receive an e-mail with the invitation and they will also see a flag in the system indicating the invitation.  In addition, if you want to change their role, simply double-click on the “Editor” or “Viewer” label to toggle between the two types.

Way to go!