Piloting the PIE Abacus

The PIE Abacus has been developed as an on-line version of the 'PIEs services assessment and self-development process': the Pizazz.

The first two years of development involved some rethinking of the original PIEs framework, firstly to broaden the scope, to make it relevant to the full range of services working with 'complex needs', and secondly to make it more suitable for an evidence-based assessment process.


Getting into shape

The first tangible result was the launch of the PIEs 2.0 framework, which aimed for greater inclusivity and breadth, as a single framework (HERE) for complex needs services; and placed greater emphasis on observable changes in any service (HERE), to allow for 'a deeper dive'.

The second tangible result was the release of the paperwork for the Pizazz process, (now referred to as 'the Pizazz on paper'), which was issued free, to introduce and test out the model with as wide a range of services as possible.

(NB: By April 2021, the Pizazz assessment sheets had been downloaded over 700 times.)


The Abacus pilots:  Stages One and Two 

Starting in 2018, with the first drafts, a handful of invited services began piloting the software version, of the Pizazz, henceforth to be  known (HERE) as the PIE Abacus.  There were some initial delays; and  with the advent of COVID 19 and lockdown, all timescales have been understandably affected.

However, we were then able to take advantage of the slower pace, by re-opening the plot phase (Phase Two), with a limited number of new agencies able to join; and with new questions.

Specifically, we now wanted:

  1. to fine-tune the advice that we can offer on how best to set up a range of Abacuses within one organisation, and/or in a network of organisations, to suit the structures and purposes of each agency or project; and
  2. to see how best to introduce and align the software version with the earlier, pen-and-paper version; and
  3. to get a sense of what costs for the software would seem reasonable, granted the need for cost-effectiveness, combined with the intention to re-invest the income in further development, both of the software itself, and the services that it can support. ( See FAQ: costs and sustainability) .

All feedback on the software as a tool for engagement in assessment and in service planning has been very positive. (See: What are people saying about the PIE Abacus?:  HERE ) It is therefore currently envisaged that the PIE Abacus will be 'going on general release' in the spring of 2021, once all supporting documentation and training is ready.


The Pilots : Stage Three

Over the course of piloting, in discussions with the software developers, Opeus, and in the course of describing its uses, the full potential in this software began to emerge. More specifically, the potential in encouraging engagement, assessment and future planning in wider networks became clear.

At this stage, we can see and we can suggest such potential; but outside a relatively small group of services that have begun to explore it, we cannot yet claim this as tested and proven.   Over the Spring and Summer of 2021, therefore, we mean to open a further stage of pilots, inviting small groups of services to try the software for themselves, and working with others to see how such sharing can be most effective.

As before, the software will be free to those in the pilot; and we will be holding consultations with the pilots group on their experience, and any key lessons learned.


NB:  For a summary of the preliminary conclusions from the first phase (in 2019), see: 'PIE Abacus pilots, Phase One preliminary conclusions' HERE

For the overall feedback, see "What are they saying about the PIE Abacus?: HERE


Further background reading/listening/viewing

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

PIE Abacus briefings

The PIE Abacus - essential briefing for PIE leads ( and any others in comparable roles) : HERE

Weighing the cost and 'value added' of the PIE Abacus : HERE



The PIE Abacus for communities of practice : HERE

The PIE Abacus for local strengths and needs audit : HERE

The PIE Abacus for research : HERE


Piloting the PIE Abacus:

(Original) aims of the pilot : HERE

Timescales and time commitment :  HERE

'The virtual garage'; the story so far of the earliest pilots : HERE

PIE Abacus pilot, phase 1 (2019) conclusions : HERE 

What are they (now) saying about the PIE Abacus?: HERE

A very suitable metaphor: HERE

The Pizazz approach

For the overall introduction to the Pizazz, see: Introducing : The Pizazz

For a note on current and future costs of using the Pizazz, see: Pizazz costs

Pizazz - the paperwork : HERE