I’d like to introduce myself, My name is Don Monteleone, President of CBA a 28 year veteran of Project & Portfolio Management. You may have attended one of my Webinars, or my presentations at PMI, GovTech, or CIO Forums in the past. In any event, I have now been given a new forum for discussing all things PPM related. So, here goes:
I am certain you are dealing with the ramifications of the current economic downturn and the resulting consequences. Everyone is. In times like these, it is critical to remember that good process is more important than ever.
Project and Portfolio Management is most critical during tough economic times. We can afford to make mistakes when our Enterprise investments have plenty of money. But when belts get tightened, we better make sure we are getting optimal value out of those few initiatives we can afford to do!
Organizations with solid project and portfolio management who already have conventions in place to make the appropriate changes in plans and operations are able to respond to the fluid business environments we all operate in. More importantly solid project & portfolio management provides the mechanism to quickly decrease financial commitments to a portfolio or increase investment else were to adjust the risk associated with the initiative, portfolio, or LOB (line of business), etc. Typically adjustments are made in response to the changes in strategic direction, shifts in conditions or at most serious, when trying to keep a division of company afloat.
Organizations without solid process governance are now incented to correct this problem. Typically they find they can no longer afford to make poor decisions. Their portfolios need to be reasoned and rationalized, so their decisions are based on better information. Now, more than ever, solid project & portfolio management ensures decisions are fact-based, strategic to the business and subsequently measurable to determine if they are the right move. But what PPM tool should be leveraged for these challenges?
Times are difficult for all of us! One of the few silver-linings in my opinion is the broad adoption of PPM and governance processes for business improvements. It is my hope that these governance processes, business conventions and decision support mechanisms will continue to be evangelized and fostered by those vested to the success of project & portfolio management – especially after this latest economic storm. One would hope that enterprises will realize the essential nature of project & portfolio management, in good times as well as bad. Only then, will they be ready for the next storm which is sure to comes.read more
P6 Project Collaboration Using Different Databases
In the ideal world, all parties involved would work in the same database and program security would allow access to only the activities that each user needs or each sub could have their own project with just their activities that include relationship ties to other projects. But the solution is not so straightforward when database access is not granted.
Collaboration on projects between the Owner and Sub-contractors on a large project often gets a bit cumbersome when the Owner of the master schedule does not allow the sub access to their database. Both entities may be P6 users, but because they are working in separate databases, fears of modifying or making unwanted changes to the wrong information while importing abound. And, rightfully so. With CBA, I’ve fielded many a frantic post import phone call full of desperation, horror and disbelief that a simple click of a button can cause a disaster of such epic proportions. There’s always the import configuration template that could be modified, but if the Owner and/or other subs are continuing to update their portions of the schedule while you’re working in the export, the options there won’t prevent you from overwriting all of the work they’ve been doing.
Below is a streamlined process that will alleviate these worries because it preserves the Owner and other subs activity information* as well as the global information in the Owner’s database. If this is the collaborative type of environment that you are, or will be working in, I suggest running through the exercise in a sample scenario with someone else in your company first so you know what to expect and how to better explain the process to all involved.
*The exception here is if you modified relationship ties to Owner or other sub’s activities in other portions of the project. The relationship changes you make will be reflected in the master schedule after the import.
Process for Collaborating Between Two Different P6 Databases
Step 1: Owner of source project exports project in an XER format and forwards
Step 2: Exported project is imported into subcontractor’s database and updated as needed in P6
Step 3: Post update, a filtered Excel export file is created containing only the subcontractor’s activities (see instructions below)
Export Project Data and Resources to Excel
- Open the projects you want to export.
- Choose File, Export.
- Choose Spreadsheet – (XLS).
- Select the subject area(s) you want to export. For example:
- Mark the checkbox for the project from which you want to export its data.
- Add, modify, or select a template that specifies the fields you want to export. You can create a filter to export only a portion of the activities in the project. In the template, select each subject area from the dropdown list to modify its columns, filter, and sort information.
- After applying the filter on the filter tab, click OK.
- Type or select the name of the export file and the location where the file will be saved. If you have selected more than one subject area to export, each subject area will appear in a separate worksheet in the same spreadsheet file.
- Click Finish.
Step 4: Subcontractor emails the Excel file to the Owner. The Owner opens the source project in their database, then imports the filtered Excel file selecting to Update Existing Project while performing the import.read more
Given the choice, when a need arises in a project schedule for a summary level activity I always try to utilize WBS Summary activities over LOE”s. Why is very simple….NO RELATIONSHIPS TO CREATE OR MAINTAIN. Did you know that when you have an LOE that is Not Started and has an incorrect relationship with an underlying activity the Duration of the LOE, upon scheduling, reverts to zero, therefore, causing all Resource Budgeted Units assigned to the LOE to revert to zero!! Did you also know that if you have an LOE that is In Progress and has an incorrect relationship with an underlying activity the Duration of the LOE, upon scheduling, reverts to zero, therefore, causing any assigned Resource Remaining Units to revert to zero!! NOW THEN.. HEAR IT AGAIN….A WBS Summary activity has no relationships to cause this phenomena.
The WBS Summary activity type combines the summary capabilities of the WBS structure with task level attributes, such as, resource assignments, activity codes and notebooks. It is used to roll up date, durationand percent complete values for a group of activities that share a WBS Code. The WBS Summary activity can also be used in a detailed schedule to roll up into a Gantt Chart with a nice waterfall look from beginning to end of the project using Start or Finish as your sort (perhaps a level 2 schedule otherwise unattainable through the use of WBS elements or Activity Codes).
- Start and Finish dates for a WBS Summary activity are set to the Earliest Start Date and Latest Finish Date respectively of all activities within its WBS.
- The WBS Summary activity Start and Finish Dates are rolling dates that will fluctuate with the Earliest and Latest Dates of the activities within the WBS group that are not started or in-progress
- Once all activities within the WBS are complete the Start and Finish Dates of the WBS Summary activity will equal the earliest Early Start and latest Early Finish Date of the activities within its WBS group
- WBS Summary activities provide a great place to assign clerical, security and overhead Resource assignments to the life of the project or a specified segment of the project e.g. construction phase
So, when would I use an LOE activity? When I need to capture a summary level segment of the schedule that does not make sense to identify with a WBS element…and that is the only time.
Happy Summarizing and here’s to the end of bad relationships. Hail to the King!read more
Almost since the inception of the invention of software itself M&A activity in the industry has been the norm not the exception. Great companies like Peoplesoft, Siebel, Mercury, Business Objects, and yes our very own Primavera have been gobbled up like plankton by the whales of the industry. IBM, Oracle, CA, Cisco, HP and Microsoft seemingly have an insatiable appetite for adding to their product portfolios. Once proud companies for which growth seemed to be unlimited are now adding profits to somebody elses’ bottom line. With the development of new technologies such as SaaS and Cloud Computing we will see more and more of the industries standard bearers disappear for one reason or another. A look at the Software Top 100 reveals an interesting fact. Eight of the top 25 companies are consumer game makers, something that would have been unheard of ten years ago. The revenue difference between number 1 and number 25 is nearly 50 fold showing that the top 5 companies keep getting bigger as the industry consolidates. There is no reason to think this situation will not continue unabated, so the question is not if, but when most major players will cease to be independent. Rumors abound over even the largest companies, just last year speculation surfaced for a second time that Microsoft would acquire software giant SAP. With that question already answered for Primavera we can now look to the future with confidence and not uncertainty.
Since Primavera was acquired by Oracle in October 2008 we and our customers have been asking is this a good thing for us? There have been many times in the past 16 months when that question would have been difficult to answer. Looking forward from the Primavera customer perspective I believe we have successfully guided our customers through the sometimes difficult process of navigating the organizational maze that is Oracle. By assuming that burden for our customers they have been able to realize all the benefits of the Primavera to Oracle transition and none of the pain. Going forward the benefit of being part of the Oracle brand will be obvious. The lifeblood of any good software product is integration. Silos of technology only hasten obsolescence and by being a part of a larger family of products Primavera has the ability to continue to grow and add value by integrating with Oracle (and other) ERP solutions to complete the enterprise PPM vision. Under Oracle’s leadership the Primavera product portfolio of P6, Contract Management, Primavera Earned Value Management, Risk Analysis, Portfolio Management, Primavera Inspire for SAP, Contractor, SureTrak and P3, will continue to provide the most comprehensive and full featured product managment suite in the industry today. As a founding Primavera PAR we see this as our opportunity to continue the work we have been doing for 26 years as an expert in project management in general and Primavera in particular. Oracle can provide a huge R&D budget for Primavera to continue to grow and thrive, but organizationally they are 25 years behind CBA in the knowledge of project management and the nuances of successfully implementing the Primavera solution. We at CBA welcome the opportunity to help our customers to face this new reality. We know that CBA and Primavera will continue to thrive under the Oracle umbrella and with our help you can as well.read more
If you have ever attempted to bring together project Schedules from multiple groups into one cohesive Master Schedule then you understand what is meant by the term “Herding Cats”. Consider a scenario where you are utilizing multiple independent professional groups to submit Engineering/Procurement schedules that will ultimately link up with a construction schedule to form a Master Project Schedule. Even the best laid plans will require utilizing that cat corral in full action to be successful. Communication, planning and key project coding will be the required tools to build the foundation of your cat corral.
Conditions for Successful Integration:
- Start off by developing a written Integration Plan: Clearly define key events with the associated accomplishments and criteria detailed out
- Create a project template that contains a common WBS format
- Designate what engineering review/procurement activities and workflow are required to be captured
- Develop common activity coding for the integration of the activities (Utilize secure codes once assigned to activities)
- Clearly identify the activities that are to be linked to other schedules
- Create common naming conventions for activity names and Id’s (Smart code activity ID’s)
- Create an Integration manual with all guidelines and procedures
- Communicate clearly and often. Review schedule development and provide target milestones of development completion
How do the schedules actually get combined from the Remote Sites…???
Aaaaahhh…Another topic another day..Until next timeread more
How to Find Answers on the New Oracle/Primavera Support Site
I feel like I’ve lost something. Something dear to me. Something I counted on and was always there. Some things you lose and you’re happy – like weight or an old boyfriend. Others, like your wallet or your retainer, cause total devastation. That’s how I feel about losing Primavera POINT. The first time I went out to the new Oracle/Primavera support site it was like starting middle school all over again. With your big Aquanet® teased bangs, new stirrup pants and coolest leg warmers, you bravely walk up to this huge new building like you own it. Then you actually walk through the doors. Now you feel it. A little scared, a little helpless and a little intimidated. You stand there paralyzed until you finally summon all your pre-teen internal stores of strength and determination. You take your first step, then your next, and your next. Before you know it you’re cruising down the hall now at a substantial pace. A swift pace actually. Running really – directly into the girl’s bathroom. You lock yourself into the heavily graphitized stall and sob. Not only because you just want things to be like what you’re used to, but because “Jenny hearts Bobby forever” and you don’t even know who Jenny and Bobby are in this place!
Admittedly, that’s how I’ve felt about the new Oracle/Primavera support site. I was so used to my trusty, reliable Primavera POINT support site. I muse sometimes over how easy it was to just pick my product, type in my question and miraculously there it would sit – my solution, my answer right at my finger tips, right when I needed it. I reminisce too about my good friends in Primavera Chat. My Primavera OnStar® as I once referred to it with affection. So knowledgeable, so willing, so there when I needed them. Well, flashback to reality. Things change. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to like it, but I do have to accept it and move forward. Really, I ask myself, would I still wear leg warmers today? Well, maybe tomorrow if they came back in style, but you get the point. Sometimes change is good. (If you’re not convinced I’ve got some middle school pictures to show you that would surely make you a believer!)
Moving forward, I personally resolved to leave my beloved POINT behind and learn to do things a new way. I also had to humble myself and get a little educated. You see, when I first went out to the site I felt like “I got this. I’ve been working with Primavera and project management for a good number of years now and I figured out how to navigate POINT in no time.” Found the “Knowledgebase” link. Awesome! Went to look for my product. What the heck is this?! I soon realized that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Remember, it’s not just Primavera, but Oracle/Primavera. On the off chance that you weren’t aware of it, did you know that Oracle has roughly a godzillian (as in zilla, the giant monster) number of products! There are also quite a number of just Primavera products to sift through. Humbled. I had gone out to the site in the first place because during an installation of P6 Web I had an MBean problem. Sounds bad I know. With all my experience, I’ve never had an MBean problem before and I have to admit I don’t know my MBeans from my RPotatos. I had been trying to resolve this on my own for a couple of days now. I needed to get this thing installed and I needed support. Ultimately, I was able to find a documented solution concerning my MBean problem on the new Knowledgebase. Yeah! It didn’t resolve my issue however. Are you kidding me?! Now, it was time. I had to go back to middle school and actually ask someone, a real live person for help to find my way. It would have been nice if I could have just walked out of the stall (still in there) and gone up to someone, but in our Oracle/Primavera cyber school they call this an SR or Service Request. Here we are escorted through several windows being prompted for configuration settings and asked several times to summarize, describe, categorize and detail the problem. So, muttering while harking back to Live Chat in an undertone, I complete the request and send it off. Within 15 minutes it happens. I get a phone call direct from Oracle/Primavera. A real live person! Taylor was his name, and it’s all a blur now, but I believe I may have actually confessed my love for him for fixing so quickly what I had been wrestling with for two days! I’ll never forget him. He resolved my MBean problem in less than 20 minutes (which by the way had nothing to do with Mexican cuisine as you might have imagined.) Since, I have also had numerous other Service Requests that were responded to via email within 15- 20 minutes of my post. Not bad and it beats waiting on the phone for a half hour or more.
So, the new Oracle/Primavera support site does work. There, I’ve admitted it. I’d be remiss to say that it couldn’t use a little tweaking here and there, but it is still a useful tool to resolve your Primavera issues. To save you a little pain while getting better acquainted with the site, here are a few suggestions.
- Use the Help Option
- Watch the Video Training
- Get Support for Support
Use The Help Option On The Top Right Of The Screen. (Remember, humble thyself.) Don’t waste any more time trying to figure it out by clicking around. Before you know it, a quick ten minutes can turn into over an hour. Save time and use this Help option. The shot below shows Help as it pertains to the creation of a Service Request. There are other great topics in there too like search tips and how to create and save a Power View so you can quickly filter by only the product(s) you use. There’s a video on this too. Watch the Video Training. Also found in Help is a Video Training tool to guide you through site navigation. The training is broken out into multiple topics that you can select in any order and view at your own convenience. Each topic can last anywhere from 3 to 93 minutes. Trust me, it is time well spent and it’ll save you a lot of aggravation – especially for those still longing for POINT.
Get Support For Support. Sometimes, even knowing how to navigate the site is not enough. You may still need to devote time to research, testing and dealing with the Oracle/Primavera Service Rep. Because of the multitude of other fires you’re trying to put out, you may just not have the time to “dig” for an answer even if you know how. As a value added option, Critical Business Analysis, Inc. can manage all or some of your support for you. We arrange service contracts with our clients where we act as the support liaison between them and Oracle/Primavera to help them resolve problems more quickly. Let us know if this support solution is right for you. I just may be the CBA rep you’ll work with. If so, I’ll keep my hairspray, leg warmers, MBeans and longing for POINT in my locker where they belong, promise.