Cal Answers

Why is Cal Answers important?

The tool ...

  • Helps us make better decisions as we assess new opportunities, set priorities, and deal with resource constraints. 
  • Allows us to communicate more clearly as we have one set of facts and definitions. We have worked extensively with data providers to ensure that these are the best answers to use in the topics addressed.
  • Provides metrics that are critical to managing and monitoring progress towards meeting our goals.
  • Helps fulfill the goal of the Institutional Data Management and Governance initiative (IDMG) to make campus data easily accessible, reliable, consistent, and secure to support informed planning, decision-making, and communication.

What are key features of Cal Answers?

Cal Answers provides interactive dashboards and reports, allowing you to see information about the entire campus and drill down to specific departments or other subsets of data. You can rearrange or delete data columns, sort by different parameters, and filter the data in different ways so the tool meets your needs. If you want to go further, you can develop your own reports and dashboards within the Student Demographics and Outcomes subject area.

What does the motto "One Question, One Answer" mean?

Currently campus administrators maintain isolated caches of data relating to their own areas, so when questions about campus operations arise, analysts spend most of their time searching for accurate data and they often find metrics are reported differently in different places.

In contrast, the newly developed Cal Answers tool reports data directly from the University’s enterprise data warehouse, a single repository for integrated information relating to cross-campus topics like admissions, enrollment, financial aid, human resources, and faculty research. Now, when the campus needs to answer critical business questions, they can trust Cal Answers provides one accessible, consistent, reliable answer to their question. 

Getting Started With Cal Answers

Who can use Cal Answers?

Anyone in the campus community can get access to much of the data and the request takes just a few minutes to become effective. Data impacting personal information is secured to those whose jobs require that information. Find access information in the New Users menu and within information on each Data Topic.

How do I log in to Cal Answers?

From the Cal Answers Home page navigate to the Quick Start section in the top left corner and click on Log In To Cal Answers.

Sign in using your CalNet ID and Passphrase. Click on the Cal Answers Sign In button to be logged into Cal Answers. If you are unable to sign in, please review the Cal Answers Getting Started page for more access information.

You can also sign into Cal Answers using Citrix. To sign in using Citrix, log into Citrix at citrix.berkeley.edu(link is external) by clicking on the link, entering your CalNet ID and choosing "Cal Answers." From there, sign in to Cal Answers using your CalNet ID.

Access the Quick Start Guide for more information on gettting started with Cal Answers at calanswers.berkeley.edu

Which internet browsers are compatible with Cal Answers?

Visit the browser compatibility web page for thorough information and instructions. 

What are Cal Answers hours of operation?

Cal Answers is available every day 7am - midnight, with the exception of Thursdays when it's available 8am - midnight. If additional maintenance is required, it will generally be done on Sundays, and information will appear by the login link for Cal Answers. Cal Answers support hours are Monday - Friday, 8am to 5pm.

When is new data uploaded to Cal Answers from the source systems?

Cal Answers provides point-in-time historical data for use of analyzing trends and informing business decisions. It is not an operational/transactional system which you would typically use on a daily basis to perform basic job functions. Each data topic's metrics are refreshed on a separate schedule; details are included within the subject area's web pages. Keep in mind, the purpose of Cal Answers is to provide the campus with the ability to conduct analyses for informed planning, decision-making, and communication.

This timeline provides an overview of when new data is added to each subject area within Cal Answers on a recurring basis. 

Where do I now find data that used to appear in Cal Profiles and Cal Profiles Plus?

We've created a web page with a mapping diagram of the old Cal Profiles/Profiles Plus sections and their new Cal Answers locations. Click here to view the page. 

How do I install the Cal Answers app on my smartphone or tablet?

Check out the Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile App User Guide for step-by-step instruction for installing and accessing the Cal Answers mobile app. 

Navigating Cal Answers

Can I save my filter settings and other formatting changes I've done to the data tables so I don't have to reenter them each time?

Yes. There is a small pull-down menu icon in the upper-right corner next to the question mark. From that menu (called Page Options if you put your mouse over it) choose the Save Customizations option. You can name your set of customizations so that you can keep several sets. When you come back into a new session, go to the same Page Options menu and select Apply Customizations to bring up that particular filtering criteria or data set you would like to work with.

How can I quickly reset or clear dashboard filters without selecting each one individually?

Cal Answers has three options for quickly editing the filter selections within a dashboard.

Select the drop down arrow on the Reset button to display:

  1. Reset to last applied values.  All dashboard filters will be reverted back to the selections made prior to the last Apply.
  2. Reset to default values.  All dashboard filters will be reset to their default values for that particular dashboard as set by the campus or by the user if they have assigned a new default view.
  3. Clear All.  All dashboard filter selections are set to --Select Value--.

cal answers reset filters

How can I print an entire report page from Cal Answers?

On any Cal Answers dashboard tab, you can print the entire page, including all filters, by using the Page Options menu. This looks like 3 bullet points up toward the top right of the page, right next to the blue circle with a question mark in it. The first option on that menu is "Print," which then gives you two selections: "Printable PDF" and "Printable HTML." Either of those options should give you the full page of the report, although it may limit large tables to the first 25 rows.

The "Print" and "Export" links that appear directly below many tables are charts are a standard that we're working toward. These are more restrictive than the Page Options menu, in that they're specific to a section of each page. Where "Print" links don't appear, you can definitely always "Export" to PDF, which may actually work better than the "Print" link in cases with a large table.

Can I export data into another system or tool?

Yes. There is a link below each report labeled "export." To download the complete report with its formatting and totals, your options are Excel 2003+, PDF, PowerPoint, or Web Archive. Raw data can be exported as Comma Delimited, Tab Delimited, or XML. Note that downloading to Excel isn’t currently supported on a Mac; you can, however, download as delimited text and open that in Excel for Mac.

How do I drill into the data displayed in the report tables on a dashboard?

All blue text is drillable within the Cal Answers data tables. Depending on where the blue text is located in the table will determine to what level you will drill.Click a row value to view a new, related report with additional detail about the value. Click on the column header if you would like to see more detailed categories within the value. 

Clicking on the column header will drill into all categories listed in the cells and display a new, related report with additional details about all of the categories. 

Clicking a category in the row will drill into the selection and display a new, related report with additional detail about the value.

PI Portfolio

How do I get access to PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

Faculty have automatic access to data for the funds they manage and can log in using their CalNet login ID. If you are not a faculty member, you can get access through Cal Access. Read more about the different access levels at calanswers.berkeley.edu/piportfolioaccess.

What kind of PI Portfolio access role do I need?

March 14, 2016

There are six different types of access to PI Portfolio.

  • Principal Investigator (PI) Access
  • Collaborator Access
  • Shared Services Research Administrator (RA) Access
  • Research Administrator (RA) Access
  • Reporting Access
  • Oversight Access

Don't forget that if you are a PI, you'll have automatic access to PI Portfolio.

You can read more about what the different access levels include at: calanswers.berkeley.edu/piportfolioaccess.

How do I log in to PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

Click on the access link and sign in using your CalNet ID.

If you are not immediately taken to the PI Portfolio dashboard, navigate to the "dashboards" option at the top right of the landing page and choose "PI Portfolio" from the drop down menu.

You can also sign into PI Portfolio using Citrix. To sign in using Citrix, log into Citrix at citrix.berkeley.edu by clicking on the link, entering your CalNet ID and choosing "Cal Answers." From there, sign in to Cal Answers using your CalNet ID and if you are not immediately taken to the PI Portfolio dashboard, navigate to the "dashboards" option at the top right of the landing page and choose "PI Portfolio" from the drop down menu.

Access the job aid on logging in to Cal Answers PI Portfolio at calanswers.berkeley.edu/pi-portfolio/training.

Can you have two windows open at the same time in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

Yes – you can open them in a new tab but it works more consistently if you open it in a separate browser window. You may open Cal Answers in two different sessions using the same browser.

Who can I ask about the new functionality in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

If you are a Principal Investigator (PI), your Research Administrator (RA) is your primary resource about PI Portfolio. You can also contact the Help Desk or the Project Team.

If you are a Research Administrator (RA), your point of contact is the Help Desk.

If you are a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) or MSO, your point of contact is the Help Desk.

All PI Portfolio users are welcome to send feedback or suggestions to the PI Portfolio Project Team at piportfolio@berkeley.edu.

What kind of projections can I input in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

You can input projections for Anticipated Funding, Compensation and Non-compensation expenses using the CF2 of the selected faculty member.

Is there an easy way to filter for non sponsored awards when working in the different tabs?

March 14, 2016

Use the Portfolio tab to identify the funds as Sponsored or Non-Sponsored. There is no indication in the other tabs.

How do I customize a search and save a customization?

March 14, 2016

You can customize by filtering or by right clicking on a column header to view menu options. To save your customized view so you can access it again, you click the page menu options icon in the upper right corner (looks like three stacked bars) and choose "save customized view."

How can I select all funds to view?

March 14, 2016

You can either deselect the fund you’ve chosen so that none are selected, or select all, then Apply. Either will make all the funds show up.

How do I export to Excel?

March 14, 2016

You can export a table or a whole page. Export from the page options menu in the upper right corner (looks like three stacked bars) to export the whole page with formatting. Use the "Export" link under the table to get only the results table.

In the Personnel tab, do wage lines show gross or net pay?

March 14, 2016

They show gross pay only. Net pay is not available in PI Portfolio.

Can I see the name of the BearBuy cart owner who made the purchase in the transaction detail?

March 14, 2016

Not at this time. It shows the person being paid. If it’s a reimbursement, you would see the person’s name. We’ve logged this as a future phase request.

What is the last closed period?

March 14, 2016

The last closed period is the last month that has been officially closed on the ledger in BFS. A closed month may be considered completed for reporting purposes. A month that is not closed may still have unposted activity, often including payroll. Payroll typically posts 7-10 days after the pay period end date, so a typical fiscal month will close about ten days to two weeks after the end of the month on the calendar. Projections are replaced by Actuals after the month closes.

What is a CF2?

March 14, 2016

The CF2 is part of the chartstring that identifies the Principal Investigator (PI) or faculty lead for the fund. The chartstring is the who/what/where/when/why – it includes Fund, DeptID, Account, CF1, CF2, Program. Total award actuals will show the whole fund. The lead PI sees all the transactions, an individual PI only sees transactions related to their CF2. See the chartstring page on the PI Portfolio website for more information.

Why are projections based on my CF2?

March 14, 2016

The CF2 is used to uniquely identify activities that "belong" to you. A CF2 is unique to a PI, and is issued as a control point for PIs in approving expenditures, and as a "handle" for effort reporting. You can find out more about what a CF2 is, chartstrings, and Chart of Accounts (COA) on the PI Portfolio website.

What is a projection in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

A projection is a single row in the Input Form, which is given an ID# once you Apply Changes. The same ID# will be used for corresponding auto-projections such as Overhead, CBR and GAEL.

How do I look up a chartstring in PI Portfolio for a specific account?

March 14, 2016

You can view all the past actuals in the transactions tab, which shows you the full chartstring if you select "full chartstring" as an option in the view selector. In the projections input form, predictive type can help you choose the appropriate value for each chartfield. If you choose an expense type first, it will limit the accounts in the dropdown list to those that roll up to that expense type.

How do I look up a chartstring in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

You can view all the past actuals in the transactions tab, which shows you the full chartstring if you select "full chartstring" as an option in the view selector.

Can I see an entire chartstring?

March 14, 2016

For actuals you can view the full chartstring in the Transactions tab. You can view all chartfields except the Project Costing (PC) fields for projections. This includes data from across Berkeley -- multiple departments and schools as well as multiple CF2's if the Principal Investigator (PI) has them.

How frequently will projections be updated in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

CSS RA's will review and update projections as necessary as part of the monthly reporting and reconciliation process.

Who fills out the projected expenses in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

Projected expenses should be filled out by a faculty member's Research Administrator (RA) or designated support staff.

Can I use PI Portfolio if I don't use Contracts and Grants funds?

March 14, 2016

Yes, you can make projections for Non-Sponsored Funds if they use a faculty-attributed CF2.

Could I use an interactive form of Excel to scenario plan?

March 14, 2016

You can use Excel to scenario plan by downloading the data and manipulating it in Excel on your own.

Is there a way to go back in time and see portfolio balances at a previous date?

March 14, 2016

You can look by fund since the inception to date but you cannot see a whole portfolio back in time; such as “Where was I five years ago”. This is logged as a future request.

Can I save an incomplete projection in PI Portfolio and go back and finish it later?

March 14, 2016

The system only saves complete projections, so each line must be completed in order to "Apply Changes." You can then leave and return later to add additional projections. If you add blank rows, they will be automatically deleted when you apply changes as long as you have not started to fill in the fields. Once you start to complete a row, you must finish and Apply Changes or cancel. You can always delete a projection after you have Applied Changes.

Can I revert back to an earlier projection scenario in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

No, this is considered scenario planning and is not included in this phase of the project. Actuals will replace projections over time. You can archive a set of projections to be viewed at a later date, but you cannot revert back to using these saved sets of projections in the dashboard reports. You can download the data to Excel or PDF but you cannot "reapply" an old set of projections. Only the active projections are used to calculate fund balances.

Can the Burn Rate report be used to project supply costs?

March 14, 2016

Yes. The burn rate report was created for this purpose. You can view the average monthly rate, see how much of that is made up of supply costs and use that to project future supply costs.

What does "Burn Rate" mean?

March 14, 2016

Burn rate means the average monthly expense rate. For the purposes of PI Portfolio, it means the average monthly actuals amount for each chartstring used by the faculty member.

Is there an easy way to filter out certain Dept IDs when running reports in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

You can right click the Department column header and select "Move" then "To Prompts" which will move the column above the table as a drop down filter. Use this drop down to filter the results by Dept ID. This feature only allows you to look at one department at a time. We have logged a flexible department filter as a future enhancement request.

Can I sort by transaction in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

Yes, you can do this by right clicking the column header and choosing sort. This is the case for most columns in Cal Answers.

What will the PIs and RAs see in the enhanced dashboard?

March 14, 2016

In the enhanced dashboard, Principal Investigators (PIs) and Research Administrators (RAs) will see projections added to the existing Portfolio, Personnel, and Fund Summary tabs. There are also three new tabs; Projections, HR Lookup, and Burn Rate. You can find out more about the enhanced dashboard on the PI Portfolio website at: calanswers.berkeley.edu/pi-portfolio/about-pi-portfolio.

Can I upload PI Portfolio projections to CalPlanning?

March 14, 2016

No but you can export projections to Excel.

When do new awards appear in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

As soon as a fund number has been assigned and budget is uploaded and approved by Contracts and Grants Accounting (CGA) in BFS.

Can you group or rename the funds on the Portfolio tab?

March 14, 2016

Not at this point. We’ve added this as a suggestion for the next phase.

Can the current funds in PI Portfolio be renamed?

March 14, 2016

Funds are shared across faculty and departments so only the BFS official fund name is shown. It is not possible to change the name in PI Portfolio but this can be done through BFS. You can find more information on how to change a fund on the BAI website: bai.berkeley.edu/BFS/BudgetGL/fund.htm.

How can the closed funds still in PI Portfolio be addressed?

March 14, 2016

PI Portfolio is a reflection of BFS. When the funds are fully closed in BFS, they will no longer appear in PI Portfolio. Please ensure all transactions have posted and all Purchase Orders have been closed, and then work with your RA and Contracts and Grants Accounting (CGA) to close these funds. You can find more information on how to close an inactive fund on the BAI website: bai.berkeley.edu/BFS/BudgetGL/fund.htm.

How are encumbrances calculated in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

Encumbrances represents the remaining balance of a Purchase Order (PO). When a PO is created, the full amount is "encumbered" meaning it is subtracted from the current fund balance to show that this amount has been earmarked for this specific purpose. Once the actual posts, the encumbrance amount is reduced to zero (if the purchase is complete) or to the remaining amount on the PO for outstanding purchases not yet posted to actuals but still expected to occur.

How are encumbrances shown in PI Portfolio?

March 14, 2016

They are displayed in all views and are subtracted from the fund balance.

What is an encumbrance?

March 14, 2016

An encumbrance is a lien on the fund for an open purchase order or subaward. It has not posted to actuals, but is considered "committed" to the expected expense until the actual has occurred or the purchase order has been closed.

The data shown in PI Portfolio is different than the data shown in BAIRS. Why?

March 14, 2016

The criteria for your report must be different. Check all your Chart of Account (COA) values and filters and adjust them to match in both applications. For example, your viewing privileges in BAIRS may be limited by department, whereas in PI Portfolio the default view is global.

Is the data in PI Portfolio accurate?

March 14, 2016

Yes, the data in PI Portfolio comes from the EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse), just like the data for BAIRS. The EDW is updated nightly with data from BFS. If you see an error, it needs to be fixed in BFS to reflect correctly in PI Portfolio.