The PIE Abacus – texts and video briefings for PIE leads

On 4th November, 2021, from 12.30 to 2pm, as part of the PIElink community of practice lunchtime forums, Season Three (HERE), we have a discussion on the language of the Pizazz and the PIE Abacus.

To cover such a wide range of services and approaches, the language of the PIEs 2 framework has been quite general; and it requires some 'customisation' to apply this to any particular service. But how useful or successful is this approach really?

Likewise the language of the Pizazz process  - both the Pizazz on paper, and the Pizazz software, the PIE Abacus -  is something we simply took over from its origins (in education).

How well does it work, or is it at times jarring?

How hard, or how easy, is it for a PIE lead or a PIE champion to make this work, when talking with staff - and senior managers - about what really works?


In the 2022 season, we propose to begin a regular programme of discussions for PIE leads in any agency, as a Special Interest Group ( or SIG).

We anticipate that these will be as informal as all other forums; and will be scheduled as a 'Happy Hour" conversation - 5-6 pm monthly on a Wednesday (full details on application).

For those interested to read/hear/see more, the rest of this page gives an outline, for PIE leads,  of the many areas where, we suspect, the Abacus may prove useful - even  perhaps transformative.

To join the SIG, email :

For the full Season Four programme, topics and dates, see: HERE


The PIE Abacus – texts and video briefings for PIE leads

With this page, we can now make available  a range of resources in both text and video format (eventually also in audio), for PIE leads in any agency or network - and any others who may find this useful. These aim to highlight the remarkable versatility of this software, and how a relatively small set of core features can be used in a remarkable variety of ways.

The intention is firstly to give you yourselves a fuller understanding of what the PIE Abacus has to offer; and secondly, to provide you with extra material that you might find it useful to use, or refer to, when talking with others - frontline staff, middle managers, other services - or your own CEO or finance directors.


Video introductions to various applications

Here we have the first in what will be a series of videos, illustrating with visual aids (even some visual jokes) the range of applications of the PIE Abacus. This video resource library will grow over time, with feedback (from people such as yourselves) over what is useful and what is most needed.

  • Please note that there is some duplication between these videos, as we approach the same issues and potential from multiple angles. Though this may be tedious, hopefully it will help, by repetition, to bring home the point that this software is highly adaptable.
  • Also these videos are not slick and professionally produced. They are what we can make, until such time as we have the income to make better - as the video on re-investment of income explains......


Our first video (HERE) illustrates how a medium- to large agency can use the PIE Abacus not just to provide an effective and engaging version of the Pizazz on paper, but to then pool this data to get an overview of what is happening across the board, or in specific areas.


Our second video (HERE) reverses this rather 'top down', 'Head Office' perspective, to look at using the PIE Abacus as a way to offer support to frontline services, whether they be struggling or innovating.


Our third video (HERE) looks wider, outside any specific agency, to explore the ways that a local authority or other strategic commissioners' grouping can create a channel for feedback on pathways, bottlenecks, gaps and barriers, in a local strengths and needs audit.


Our fourth video (HERE), in this introductory series, looks at the world, and the Abacus, from the perspective of the smaller agencies or networks; and how smaller services - often quite cash-strapped and sometimes quite isolated - can form consortia, both to share costs and for mutual support.


The fifth in this series (coming soon) looks at the possibilities of using the PIE Abacus in research, to explore what we here call the middle ground - that is, between small scale, hyper-local, true to context but small scale, and larger, technically (ie.statistically) well evidenced but ignoring either context or personalisation.


Finally - for now - we have a video (HERE) that looks at the costs structure of the PIE Abacus, partly to explain the thinking behind these costs (as also detailed, with broad examples, in 'Weighing the costs') but mainly to describe what we mean to do with the income, in re-investing a substantial part of it (over and above the running costs) in development in complex needs work itself.


(NB: We should soon have a video that looks more specifically at the way that service users can be involved in in-put to such discussions, with a PIE Abacus of their own - and what work we need yet to do, in developing a service user language for PIEs, to make this work.)



Text documents

Below you will find the contents page of a Library document entitled : The PIE Abacus - essential briefing for PIE leads : HERE.

  • This reasonably comprehensive (and therefore rather lengthy) document aims to cover, specifically from the point of view of PIE leads, much of the material that is otherwise scattered across many different pages, from many different perspectives and often with more detail and/or more examples).
  • For an indication and summary of the content, you will find the contents page, at the bottom of this page.

We also have a much shorter document that you will surely want to read, entitled: Weighing the costs and the 'value added' of the PIE Abacus : HERE

  • This Library document spells out the basic costs of an account, and of additional Abacuses: and it also suggests various ways that 'low budget' organisations or networks of various kinds might go about sharing a PIE Abacus 'customer account'.


The 'essential briefing for PIE leads' : contents

1: Preamble for PIE leads

  • A single narrative
  • Keep it simple
  • The scope for more advanced uses


2: PIE Abacus accounts and Team Abacuses

  • Creating an ‘iAbacus for PIEs’ account.
  • Whole team Abacuses
  • Team scribes
  • Creating the first team Abacuses


3: Creating ‘topic’ Abacuses

  • Developing your PIE Abacus structure
  • Overlaying
    • Three brief illustrations (outreach, women’s, northern division)
  • Sharing permissions and powers


4: More advanced uses

  • Customising Abacuses ( and terms of use)
    • Drilling down and ‘bespoke’ fields
    • Service users’ assessments
    • Pruning to a single thread Abacus
    • Individual Abacuses
    • Networking - joining others’ Abacuses
  • Overlaying and stacking
    • Multiple Abacuses
    • Roll-out, and transitions
    • Trouble-shooting, buddying


5: Future development

  • Future options in software development
  • Terms of use
  • Re-investment and PIRAN


6:  PIEs assessment trainings




All forums 

Season Three : HERE


Across the board - creating a PIE Abacus structure for a medium- to large agency.


Supporting frontline services, whether they be struggling or innovating.


Local pathways, gaps and barriers, in a strengths and needs audit.


Smaller agencies or networks; and forming consortia.


The issues of research into PIEs; and the quite new possibilities that this software opens for research.


Licences, costs, and the income re-investment strategy


5th draft: dated 27/6/2021