Customising the PIE iAbacus

Note that this section is currently being revised; and some of the language used here - 'drilling down', 'adding in' -  is still tentative, as we try to work out what wording works best, in the complex needs services sector.

Consistency and flexibility

The pen-and-paper version of the Pizazz was released in the autumn of 2018; as a first taste in the development of the proposed assessment process for PIEs. The paper version seems to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach; and it has provided some much needed consistency in services' self assessment. But it lacks the full flexibility that the software version, the PIE Abacus, can offer.

For some services, especially for smaller, single ('stand alone') services, the pen-and-paper version may still be quite sufficient for your needs.  But as software, the PIE Abacus does offer many additional features, whilst remaining, for consistency, within the overall PIEs 2 framework. It is these we have wanted to explore, via the pilots with a handful of services, which ran over 2019 and 2020.

  • We will be able to provide an on-line training, and a fully illustrated guide to the PIE Abacus, following the final stage pilots.

For the pen-and-paper version, see: Introducing the Pizazz.

(For more on the PIE Abacus pilots, see: Piloting the PIE Abacus)


Customising  with ‘long form’ fields, and the ‘single bead’ option

Here, for now,  we can offer only a short summary of the key features of the PIE Abacus, which make it so attractive.

The 'short form'

At first sight ( see below, and/or panel opposite), the PIE Abacus looks very similar to the pen-and paper version of the Pizazz - but on screen and in colour. They do use essentially the same five stage process, the same wording etc.   The Handbook - 'Useful questions' - applies to both the pen and paper and the on-line versions.

It should hopefully be very easy for those already familiar with the Pizazz in its pen-and-paper version to find their way around the on-line ‘short form’. There are nevertheless some changes, that may give the on-line version an advantage over the pen-and-paper version.  (See: Key features of the PIE Abacus [1] the 'short form' )

'Drilling down' and 'adding in'

Firstly, on the PIE Abacus, those familiar five key (or 'headline')  themes of PIEs 2.0 can in principle  be opened out (or ‘drilled down’), to reveal the next tiers of the PIEs 2.0 formula, where specific issues can then be addressed in more detail. (For more details, see: Key features of the PIE abacus [2]; 'drilling down')

The PIE Abacus design also (and already) allows services to add in any further issues of their own – specific questions that are of interest to a particular service, but had not been generally or sufficiently highlighted in the overall main framework of PIEs 2.0. (For more details, see: Key features of the PIE abacus [3]; 'adding in' fields)

Sharing assessment  an using the 'overlay' feature

Just as significant, however, is the scope for sharing data, with the PIE Abacus.  There are two principal ways to do this, the first being to simply give access to view rights to any individual or organisation that you wish to share with - such as a researcher, or a peer reviewer.  The second is to use the overlay feature, to amalgamate several Abacuci, to create a searchable overview of many different services, to find common themes, and to get an overview of developments, progress, and barriers..

How this 'overly' feature, if then used, opens up a wide range of possibilities, such as - for large organisations with services across multiple localities - a coherent overview and feedback to 'Head Office'.  The overview it creates at locality level also allows sophisticated gap analysis and progress tracking, that will be of particular interest to locality commissioners. For research purposes, at allows access - by agreement - to researchers. with a particulap interest in any particular aspect of service design or development (For more details, see: Key features of the PIE Abacus [4]: using the overlay features).


(For more details, see: Key features of the PIE Abacus [1] the 'short form' ).

(For more details, see: Key features of the PIE abacus [2]; 'drilling down')

(For more details, see: Key features of the PIE abacus [3]; 'adding in' fields)

(For more details, see: Key features of the PIE Abacus [4]: using the overlay features).

The simplest, most effective way to evaluate and improve your PIE from Daniel O'Brien on Vimeo.


Overall (condensed summary), see:

The PIE iAbacus – an on-line version of the Pizazz, HERE.


For applications in particular settings, see:

 The PIE iAbacus – in medium to large agencies, HERE.

The PIE iAbacus – in local practice networks, HERE.

The PIE iAbacus – in small and local services, HERE.

The PIE iAbacus – in research and communities of practice, HERE.

The PIE iAbacus – in service user-led assessments, HERE.

The PIE iAbacus – with services using PIEs1, HERE.



Levels One and Two: HERE

Costs and sustainability: HERE.

Use and terms of use: HERE.

Ambition and modesty: HERE

PIEs 1, 2 – and 3?: HERE

The origins of the PIE iAbacus: HERE.

Customising the PIE iAbacus: HERE