Benetech® has developed a software tool designed specifically for the management of complex environmental projects.
Barriers to Environmental Project Management
Billions of dollars are spent on conservation projects in the field and yet, surprisingly, there is no software tool for managing projects in this important sector. While there are many flavors of project management software, from simple Excel spreadsheets to complex construction management software, one fact has become clear: Environmental projects do not map well to existing project management tools.
And while environmental practitioners have made significant advances in recent years, they face several challenges related to the adaptive management of projects of all types and scales:
The Solution: Miradi Conservation Management
The Miradi Conservation Management software program, currently in development by Benetech, is designed to bring quality project management tools to the global conservation community. Both practitioners and donors want to know that their efforts lead to better outcomes: stronger land preservation, broader species conservation and a healthier planet.
Miradi is a joint venture between the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) and Benetech. CMP is a consortium of the leading conversation organizations, groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy. Miradi is designed to help biodiversity conservation practitioners implement CMP’s Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (PDF), a series of best practices for designing, managing, and monitoring conservation projects — in other words, doing good adaptive management. These standards have been extensively field tested with conservation projects of all types and sizes around the world, ranging from managing a small county park or land trust to managing an entire ocean to implementing policy-oriented interventions.
Conservation organizations are managing billions of dollars of assets each year and yet such tools have not been developed. Why? It’s a simple business equation. From a financial point of view, conservation and biodiversity are, quite frankly, not attractive markets for software developers. That’s why the Miradi Conservation Management tool is so important. By building a tool that improves the practice of conservation project management, Benetech and CMP will step in to positively affect the cause of biodiversity around the globe.
For more information about Miradi, visit the Miradi website.
Overview of the Miradi Conservation Management Tool
The Miradi Conservation Management software tool helps conservation practitioners implement the CMP Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (PDF). Miradi provides an easy-to-use, interview-style interface that walks a project team through each step of the process of designing, managing and monitoring their project according to the best practice standards established and tested by the world’s major conservation organizations. The software supports several key features including conceptual modeling of the project situation, strategic planning (including developing goals, objectives, and monitoring indicators), work planning, budgeting and reporting.
Future planned enhancements include spatial mapping of the project site and a searchable database to enable sharing information across projects. Project teams will have the option to upload some or all of the results of their project to a database on the Internet. Because their project information has been collected in a structured (but flexible) fashion, it becomes easy for the project team to share and discuss their findings with other practitioners who are working on similar situations or grappling with similar challenges. The team will also be able to click on a map or search a database of other projects around the world to learn about a project taking place at any given location. When it comes time to write reports for managers or donors, the software will support the project team as they organize their accomplishments to quickly and efficiently generate reports that meet the needs of all parties.
Measures of Success
It’s true that billions of dollars are spent on conservation projects in the field each year. We expect to make a significant improvement in the effectiveness of those investments.
Initially, this improvement will be difficult to measure. Field-based biodiversity conservation projects will be the initial market for Miradi, and the simple dissemination of the software into the field will be a central measure of success. For example, we estimate that the CMP member organizations alone currently conduct approximately 5,000 such projects worldwide. We see these as a strong initial target user base and, beyond CMP, we see the general Miradi approach being applicable across a wide range of environmental groups around the world.
As the software becomes the industry standard among these groups, we hope to see cultural changes as well as the pragmatic changes that come with tighter, more effective project management. We hope that Miradi helps to provide a platform for a common vocabulary and a new interest in collaboration. Expected results? Overall, a better track record in land preservation and species conservation — and a healthier planet and environment for our children.