CBA Inc

Archive for Posts Tagged ‘Project Management’

21

Feb
2014
Comments Off on An Ounce of Prevention is Worth More Than a Box of Donuts

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth More Than a Box of Donuts

Ounce of Prevention is Worth More than a Box of Donuts


In a perfect world, when awarded a project, you’d be allotted a full week of gloating, “Hoo-hahs!” and chest bumps followed by a full 30 days to submit a preliminary 90 day baseline schedule and another 60 days to submit the complete construction schedule for the full project. Of course, you’d not only have the non-partisan support and participation of the Owner for feedback along the way, you’d also have all your subs identified and ready to go. They’d all come filing into the first weekly project meeting with a fully detailed Primavera project schedule, smiles and a box of donuts to share!

Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. In most instances, notification of the award signifies “Go time!” Immediately all parties involved begin the frenzy to get the ball rolling. It seems that everyone from the owner, to the Project Manager, to the subs (if even known) is frantically moving at warp speed to get the project off the ground. While the effort is admirable, it is not always effective. Everyone is working in their own silo and there is often not enough team collaboration from the beginning, especially as it relates to the project schedule.

Even if you have the luxury of 60 days to submit the final construction schedule for baseline approval, the real work on the schedule often begins far too late into that time frame. Everyone is not working together to plan the work accurately, to reflect the real world, intended progression of the project. The Owner will nit-pick about adherence to the schedule specs, the subs will complain that they don’t need a schedule because they have been doing this for years, and the Project Manager will want to strangle them all because he just wants to make things happen, get home in time for dinner at least once this month, and not get sued down the road!

It’s exactly at this time, at the inception of a project, that Critical Business Analysis, Inc. should be brought on board.

CBA is often utilized as a third party schedule consultant to not only develop the project schedule, but to act as an objective team participant to facilitate the collaboration process among all parties involved. We know scheduling and project management. We understand scheduling specs and best practices. We have no private agenda and our advice can be trusted.

Far too often, we are brought into a project only after major issues with the project schedule have been identified. Certainly we can help in these situations, but issues like these, and the meetings surrounding them, are adversarial, ugly and definitely confection deprived.

Whether you are the Owner or the General Contractor, save yourself the agony. Contact us at the beginning of your project to be a “second set of eyes” for the development of your project schedule and then use us as a reliable resource throughout the life of the project to be sure your scheduling effort is still on track. We all know that the project schedule can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Bring us aboard and let us make the introduction to your new BFF…we’ll even bring the donuts!

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24

Sep
2013
Comments Off on Better P6 Float Management through Proactive Analysis

Better P6 Float Management through Proactive Analysis

Mange P6 Float by Proactively Adjusting Your Schedules

…if the Finish Date Variance is trending in a negative path, the activity may soon have negative float.

As many times as I have conducted Primavera P6 training, I am always surprised by the under use of one of the basic P6 tools.

A Scheduler painstakingly builds a schedule to reflect reality and then after the project starts, neglects to take advantage of the opportunity to be proactive in managing negative float and variance trends.  The tool is the P6 Baseline.  Sure, most Schedulers create a baseline at the onset of a project and, if following best practices, assign it to the Project Baseline to make it globally available for all users to view.  Assigning to the Project Baseline ensures that any P6 User comparing the “BL Columns and Gantt Bars” is viewing data from the original Baseline.

But how about Updated Baselines for trend analysis?

With all the focus on managing negative float within a schedule, the Finish Date variance trends sometimes get lost in the shuffle.  It is extremely important to understand that, even when an activity has positive float, if the Finish Date Variance is trending in a negative path, the activity may soon have negative float. The ability to see the negative trend and adjustment the schedule accordingly can prevent the activity from ever having negative float.

Consider the following:

Utilizing data in the table below, at what point would you recognize that the Foundation activity had a negative float issue?  CYCLE 5??

 

Update # Update Date Activity Float BL1 Finish Date Variance
Cycle 1 6/15/2013 Foundation 12 0
Cycle 2 6/30/2013 Foundation 9 -3
Cycle 3 7/15/2013 Foundation 5 -4
Cycle 4 7/30/2013 Foundation 1 -4
Cycle 5 8/15/2013 Foundation -2 -3

 

If you were capturing updated baselines each cycle and monitoring the negative Finish Date Variance trends, it is likely that you noticed a potential problem on Cycle 3. Being the proactive person you are, you take action to mitigate the negative trend activity from ever getting into negative float territory.

ly

So what is the suggested best practice?

  • Capture a baseline each time you update the schedule and assign it to the Primary Baseline
  • Use variance analysis layouts to monitor trends using Activity Table columns such as BL1 Finish Date and BL1 Project Finish Date Variance.
  • Consider capturing past period Finish Date Variances in User Defined Fields to watch for trends occurring over multiple Update cycles.
  • Design P6 Report Writer reports to use color coded conditionally formatted cells to highlight negative float/negative finish date trends as red and positive float/negative finish date trends as yellow.
  • Take action on the scenario where positive float activities have multiple Update Cycles with negative Finish Date Variances.
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21

Aug
2013
Comments Off on Out of the BOX

Out of the BOX

CBA Cloud Solutions powered by box

The expertise of CBA + box = CBA Cloud Solutions

The risk of data loss to sources outside of the company’s walls is a huge concern to executives and IT professionals alike.  Controlling security is a full time job in and of itself.  Firewalls, spam filters, open ports, closed ports so many things to be concerned with.

But what about documents that must be shared with customers and partners outside of your corporate walls?   What about the burden of large confidential documents being sent via unsecured email as attachments – not only from an upload/download and storage perspective, but what about from a security perspective?!

Good news!! Now you can safely share documents and save your IT team from pulling their hair out because they can’t keep up with all of the demands put on them.  CBA, Inc. offers a secure, cloud based solution to share and collaborate on documents internally or externally.  Concerned about attachment send/receive limits??  No worries there either – they are sent as a link to the document rather than sending an actual document.  How cool is that?  Oh, and with an enterprise package, the sky’s the limit for storage space!!

Best of all, you can control who sees what, manage who opens what and you can integrate it with other applications – out of the BOX!!

Our partner company is growing extremely fast and their solution is being used by some pretty impressive companies on an enterprise and global level. Additionally impressive is that the price points make it attractive and accessible to all size organizations!

Just ask us!  We are a “Choice Re-seller” Partner of  BOX and we have already been doing installations for our customers who recognize a great thing when we show it to them!!

Call me and I can show you how to give your executives and IT professionals a good night’s sleep by protecting your documents while improving corporate collaboration – safely!

Donna McLean
Account Executive
CBA, Inc.
dmclean@cbainc.com
567-202-9280
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6

Aug
2013
Comments Off on Lessons Learned at the Tip of the Spear – Part 2

Lessons Learned at the Tip of the Spear – Part 2

Improper Java configuration can be a Primavera P6 deployment hurdle"

Making sure that your Java is configured properly will help you avoid a major deployment hurdle.

Terry’s Oracle P6 v8.x EPPM Deployment Hurdles

      Part 2 – Six Primavera Java Tips (…read Part 1 >HERE<)

What is going on with my computer?  It seems that every time I visit our Primavera website or launch my Primavera client software, I get errors.

With 90% certainty, I can say your trouble is rooted in your Java setup.  Additionally, you probably have software issues elsewhere on your PC which are rooted in this same problem…until now, you just haven’t been motivated enough to ask questions or to try to fix them yet.

What is “Java”?

From Oracle’s Java information page:

Java is a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless you have Java installed, and more are created every day…

Replace the phrase “lots of applications and websites” with “Primavera” and you will quickly recognize how important Java is to the P6 Scheduler.  You simply can’t use Primavera software without Java.

How do I get Java for my Primavera Software?

The good news:  Java is free, freely accessible on the web, and can be downloaded in a couple mouse clicks.


Essentially, you point your browser at http://www.java.com/ and click the giant “Free Java Download” button.


If you don’t have Java at the time you install your P6 system software, Oracle takes the liberty of installing Java for you.  Is that a good deal, or what?!

What problems can happen if my Primavera Java is wrong?

Now the bad news:  Java is free, freely accessible on the web, and can be downloaded in a couple mouse clicks…


… a couple clicks that a typical Primavera user performs in diligent effort to fix their P6 system problems, when obediently following the instructions of the error message.  Are you starting to get the picture?


Here’s the problem:  Unlike most other software, Java does not replace itself with an updated or revised version.  It simply adds another installation to your existing version, and expects your very powerful computer to figure out what to do with all the details.  If, (following the directions given by the now spiraling-out-of-control error messages prompting you to do so), you keep going to the aforesaid website to download the “latest version”, you will simply compound the problem.


Amazingly, your first indication that you have problems developing with your Java installation may be a loud noise emanating from your computer.  The noise you hear is your computers cooling fan going into high speed, literally because the CPU is working so hard to get the Java mess sorted out!


Oh, and your Primavera software will continue to give you trouble and errors, looping you back to www.java.com for yet more “free software”.

Lesson from the Tip of the Spear

Get used to it; 3 Billion devices run Java.  Your Primavera installation runs Java.  Like it or hate it, we need Java as much as we need the operating system.  We are all well served to sharpen our technical skills on this foundational piece of software.

Regarding Primavera, here are 6 tips that may help you get your Java under control:

  • 1.  If terms like “Plugin”, “JDK”, “JRE”, or “Applet” confuse you, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FIX YOUR JAVA.  Instead, contact CBA for help.  When Primavera gives you Java trouble, getting the right eyes on the problem saves time, money and frustration.  We specialize in getting your Primavera problems fixed right, in short order. Critical Business Analysis, Inc 

  • 2.  Despite what Oracle recommends, Turn off the Automatic Update feature in Java. The method for turning off automatic Java updates varies with the version and your operating system.  Go to www.java.com for detailed instruction.

  • 3.  Uninstall all but one Java update.  It is particularly important that you go to www.java.com for details on how to get older versions uninstalled.   Make sure the one you have is compatible with your Primavera software. (Older P6 versions likely require use of specific update packages).

  • 4.  Try a different browser.  Firefox has consistently been my “Go-To” browser to diagnose problems with Primavera and Java.

  • 5.  Look for the symptoms of other Java issues.  Web page applets and plugin’s that don’t work, desktop executable programs or batch files that appear briefly then go away without doing anything, software that does not display correct and full interface views, and many other abnormalities are symptoms that your Java may not be installed properly.

  • 6.  Learn how to set “Environment Variables” for Java.  I realize this tip will seem very “geeky” to most schedulers – it’s a stretch and you may not “get” why I added it.  Simply stated, Environment Variables are a gold mine of great new skills.  Once you learn a few things about them, and know which ones you have, you will be able to beat almost anything Java throws at you.

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19

Dec
2012
Comments Off on What A small / BIG World We Work In

What A small / BIG World We Work In

The CBA "Client Advisory Board"

“What can we do to help your business succeed?”

On October 26, 2012 CBA (Critical Business Analysis) held their first Client Advisory Board (CAB) meeting for the sole purpose of supporting our clients to the best of our ability. Very simply, we wanted to find out from our core clients, “What can we do to help your business succeed?” There were in excess of 30 people in attendance which, for the inaugural meeting, was a fantastic turnout.

The first guest speaker was one of the two original founders of the Primavera products,  Dick Faris.  As always Dick provided an update on where Oracle was headed with the product as well as my favorite, “Dick’s Picks for 2013”. I always enjoy listening to Dick speak, so much so that I came to the meeting on my day off and as expected, his presentation was well worth coming in for. The ultimate compliment of the day I think came from Dick himself, he congratulated CBA for initiating the Client Advisory Board and complimented those companies in attendance for stepping up to help CBA with the guidance they were looking for.

Following Dick’s address, CBA then presented a little background: Who and what we are, how we started, brief summaries of CBA as well as employee histories and finally CBA goals and challenges over our 27+ years of business.

The floor was then turned over to our new Advisory Board members which are a diverse segment from several industries. As conversations started by one company after another there were brief exchanges of how the tool is, other software interfaces (if any) and finally the product data output and how it is used. As CBA requested there were also issues brought forth to document for future resolution. But the most relevant thing to me was that one conversation after another seemed to spark interests between the board members on the different uses and the prospect for the resulting output that users were achieving. That spark lead to the enthusiasm  for just what being part of this board could do for their own issues as well as potentially finding resolutions from amongst the peers in the group or ultimately by guiding CBA towards not only resolving their issues but providing a knowledge base to tap for future needs. Business cards were exchanged during lunch with much interest shown for several conversations to continue individually outside the meeting.

As the meeting came to a close, I also found it very enlightening to hear so many positive comments voiced by board member after board member regarding the consistent dedication, extreme knowledge and overall willingness to step up to the plate ‘no matter what’ to help our clients meet their deliverables. It was very nice to hear that my fellow colleagues at CBA are so well thought of! I guess I knew it deep inside because when I have an issue, I look to CBA internally for support first and find that I very rarely have to go beyond our team for an answer. The accolades to CBA support employees echoed round the room confirmed that not only to me but to all in attendance. I look forward to working with this group as well as being a part of what it can become going forward.

One additional perk for me in attending this meeting was the collection of past and current supervisors that I had or am working for. I selfishly asked them for a photo as I wasn’t sure I’d ever have the opportunity to have so many in one room at one time again.

Vickie with bosses of the past, present & future?

From left to right: Todd Haberland – DTE Manager, Nuclear Support, Projects and Contract Management (formerly from Davis Besse, 5 consecutive Davis Besse Outage assignments), Bob Ferris * – CBA (currently assigned as my lead at Fermi 2), Don Monteleone* – CBA, President, John Gordon* -CBA, CEO, Chuck Wolfe* – DTE Manager Nuclear Projects and Mods Fermi 2 (current DTE Manager), Ed Rimpley – Middough Inc., Senior Major Projects Manager (2 past assignments, one at AVL North America and one for Giffels and Associates), and Bob Locurto* – URS Vice President, DTE Alliance Program (current contract manager under the DTE Alliance)

So simply put, I currently work for 5 (* noted) of the 7 gentlemen in the photo below. And people wonder why I’m always so busy…. So now ya know!

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4

Dec
2012
Comments Off on The Skire’s the Limit, or is it?

The Skire’s the Limit, or is it?

If you missed it in the endless stream of Oracle acquisitions, in September 2012 Oracle acquired the assets of Skire.  Skire made it’s mark by  providing a complete set of management and government tools across all project phases from planning and building to operations, enabling companies to effectively manage their capital and construction programs. By combining Skire with industry leading capabilities from Oracle Primavera products, Oracle intends to create a full life-cycle Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) platform that provides a comprehensive offering from capital planning and construction to operations and maintenance for owners and operators, contractors and sub-contractors.  The ability to execute on that premise is being watched very closely by us at CBA and by extension our Primavera Contract Management customers.  While this is an exciting development bringing a true SaaS model, cloud-based solution to the Primavera family, it also puts into question the future of traditional Primavera products especially that of Oracle Primavera Contract Management

Oracle Primavera has already crowned Skire as the eventual replacement for Contract Management due primarily to the fact that Skire already contains 70% of the enhancement requests received for Contract Management.  Right now Skire is in a sort of hibernation and is in controlled release until the first Oracle re-developed versions and new modules are released in January through March 2013 according to Oracle Primavera.  For a sneak peak and an understanding of the Oracle roadmap for Skire, Oracle Primavera is hosting a webinar tomorrow December 5th, at 12:00 noon EST.  Here is a link to register for the webinar https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=registration.jsp&eventid=541959&sessionid=1&key=1648A6E955E7AA28696AB99D2A8A881D&partnerref=bulletin&sourcepage=register.  In the weeks and months to come we will continue to provide information and insight into this development.  Our CBA Sales and Technicalstaff will be glad to answer any questions you may have to help you understand the strategy and direction of both Skire and Contract Management.

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5

Apr
2012
Comments Off on OCA and CBA – Managing the Transition from Primavera P3 to P6

OCA and CBA – Managing the Transition from Primavera P3 to P6

When the Ohio Contractors Association (OCA) looks for expert advice regarding Oracle Primavera solutions, they turn to Ohio’s only certified Oracle Partner specialized in Primavera P6 EPPM – Critical Business Analysis, Inc. (CBA).  We were asked by the OCA, due to our involvement with ODOT and ODOT contractors, to write the following article for the Association. The purpose was to emphasize the importance of maximizing your existing investment in P3 licenses for continuing contractual obligations, or analyzing under-utilized licenses for which you are paying support to determine if they can be migrated to new solutions.

CBA welcomes the opportunity to continue to support the Ohio Contractors Association and all organizations with project management initiatives across all industries. Please watch for future articles here on the CBA Blog, as well as, the OCA Newsletter.  We have re-published the article as presented for the OCA March 23, 2012 newsletter.

Managing the Transition from Primavera P3 to P6

Although Primavera P3 is no longer available for purchase, it is still mandated in many long term construction contracts including some recently let by ODOT. While that specific practice is to end next month with the roll-out of their P6 solution, the only way to utilize P3 in the new contracts is to manage your concurrent licenses previously offered by Primavera among the projects. If you find that you have excess P3 licenses that are current on support obligations, it is advisable to contact CBA, an Oracle Certified Primavera Partner, to review the possibility of migrating those licenses to another solution within the Primavera offering.

The current P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management solutions available consist of P6 EPPM release 7 (utilized by ODOT) with the majority of program administration occurring on the client, or desktop machine, with limited internet functionality, and P6 EPPM release 8.2 wherein the majority of program administration occurs via internet with limited client functionality. The license cost for either version is identical. However, release 8 does require a larger technical environment which may increase the cost of the investment.

In order to maximize your Primavera investment, proper training and implementation are critical elements. We urge you to seek qualified assistance in both areas.

Should you have any questions regarding your Primavera environment, please contact CBA – your Oracle Certified Primavera partner.
For more information, please contact CBA Account Manager for Ohio – Billie Feldkamp at (567) 202-9281 or by email at bfeldkamp@cbainc.com 

Mention the OCA article or this blog and receive an additional 3% discount on orders placed before April 30, 2012.

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