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!read more
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|
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.
Dumping Expenses to Excel and Filtering by year.
Being able to manipulate P6 data in Excel can sometimes be helpful. Here is a case where I copied expenses from Primavera P6 and pasted them into Excel to filter out a certain year’s data.
1. In the Expense view, type Ctrl A to select all
a. Right click and choose Copy
2. In Excel, right click and choose Paste
3. Select the top row containing the column titles, Row 1
a. Select the AZ funnel icon, then Filter
4. Select the Fiscal Year drop down arrow and select the year you would like to see data on:
5. Now data from only 2011 is selected:read more
Wouldn’t it be nice if in P6 you could add coding to expenses? Expense can become a jumbled mess in the Expense view. Being able to sort through the mess can be difficult because grouping and sorting are limited. Many times I have wanted to separate my expenses by year to bring some sort of order to the mess. Finally, I came across a work around that would help me through this issue.
Here is my solution:
Create a UDF (User Defined Field) for Expenses called Fiscal Year.
1. Select Enterprise, User Defined Fields…
2. Select Project Expenses from the drop down arrow
a. Click “Add” on the right hand side
b. Title the UDF “Fiscal Year”
c. Choose “Text” as the Data Type
d. Close the window
3. From the Expense view add a column:
4. Add the appropriate fiscal year designation for each expense.
5. Finally, to sort, click the column header titled Fiscal Year to sort your expenses.
The iPhone application for P6 Team Members is now available for download on iTunes App store!
This is an exciting milestone for the Mobile Project Team. Currently the app is supported on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. iOS 4.3. Oracle Development is actively working to support iOS 4+ in the coming weeks for those users that have older version of the OS. Additionally, iOS 5 has been officially released. Also of note, support for the the Verizon iPhone will be available shortly.
The Team Member app lets users:
- Email changes to update P6 projects
- Filter list of tasks
- Send email to request tasks
- View assigned tasks by project
- Easily mark a task complete
- Update time spent, time left & dates
- Receive confirmation message for updates
Please contact CBA your Oracle Primavera Specialized Partner for additional information and a demonstration of what P6 can do for your organization.read more
One by-product of the Oracle acquisition of Primavera in 2008 is that now it is relatively easy to become an Oracle partner and sell Primavera products, however it is very difficult to become an Oracle SPECIALIZED Primavera Partner. This status means that you have provided the highest level of expertise and customer satisfaction in the industry today. Customer testimonials are an integral part of this process, so experience and competence matters. CBA is the only Specialized Primavera reseller based in Ohio and Michigan.
Since the 2008 acquisition of Primavera by Oracle we have seen many nameless faceless “groups” appear by virtue of the Oracle Open Market Model, which allows virtually anyone to become an Oracle software reseller. With Oracle’s excellence in marketing anyone can easily create a compelling website using their content. However the devil is in the details.For example we know of one “group” of one, who has proclaimed 12 years of experience (even though they have only been in existence for several weeks) while never having delivered the stated services or training to any company or organization. The website for this “group” contains not one single name of a principle owner, executive, salesperson, consultant, trainer, or implementation specialist although they boast to have a well-schooled team of people claiming those skills. However they do show stock photos of nice looking people in business dress that exist only in a photo shop somewhere. This “group” continues to claim experience in multiple verticals, however offer no customer success stories, references, or any other evidence that any company in any of the industries they list has ever done business with them. This “group” also claims to offer training and even has an inoperable link to a non-existent class schedule.
At CBA we are proud of our heritage of providing real value to real companies for 26 years. On our website you will find the names and bios of our ownership and management team, consultants and certified training professionals. We also offer real training classes with a real class schedule for all levels of Primavera training, for which you can really register. Why do sham companies like the one referenced above exist? It is because they try to make easy money selling software cheap to unsuspecting customers and then try to back-fill services through the independent consulting community. Because they don’t invest in their business the way real companies like CBA and our true peers in the industry such as Evans Technologies, DR McNatty and Associates and CDP have they can sell software at unsustainable margins. Unfortunately all you get is low-priced software. The faceless, nameless man behind the mask is not going to help you with maintenance or licensing issues, or help you to receive the support and training necessary to be successful. This is a very dangerous shell game because as any savvy project manager knows project management solutions are not “out of the box” ready products and qualified training and consulting specialists are hard to come by. Just like the wild west hucksters selling snake oil what they are really selling you is deception.
CBAcan lead you out of that wilderness. Only a company with the depth and breadth of knowledge that CBA possesses can offer you the lowest Total Cost of Operation for Primavera products via our Software Advantage Program. As an innovator in project management services and a Oracle Primavera Specialized Partner we have developed the CBA Software Advantage Program. For no additional cost when you purchase 5 or more Oracle Primavera software licenses from CBAwe will enroll you in the CBA Software Advantage Program. This program entitles you to up to 4 hours of product support and assistance from one of our senior consultants at no cost, a 15% discount for enrolling in any of our scheduled training classes conducted by one of our certified Primavera trainers, and a 15% discount on any additional professional services you may need for implementation and administration of your Primavera environment. This is our way of thanking you for your business and ensuring that you have the necessary help you need to make your project management initiative successful and affordable. Save yourself from the wild west of project management and make the prescient choice to call CBA. Please contact CBA for further details.read more
After all the effort you’ve put into the development of the plan, nothing is more frustrating than people not cooperating to keep it updated and maintained. So how can you get everyone on board and reduce the time and effort it takes to get update information? One suggestion, dumb it down. Really, simplicity is the key. The reality of it is these people are genuinely busy. In the mad rush of an ongoing project, you can’t slap a 26 page schedule on someone’s desk and ask them to update their tasks and have it back to you by the end of the day. You’ve got to pare it down. Make the process as direct and straight-forward as possible. Fortunately, Primavera P6 makes it easy to do just that. Use a combination of Activity Codes, Filters and Layouts, to create a very basic Update Request View tailored to each person.
Consider showing only the columns in the schedule that you need the update information for – Activity ID, Activity Name, Actual Start, Remaining Duration and/or Activity Percent Complete and Actual Finish. (For resource and cost loaded schedule’s, you’ll need a little more detail.) Filter for only that person’s activities that have not started or are in progress. Don’t include the layout activities that have been completed (you obviously already know the status of those) and if you’re two months into a ten month project, don’t show those activities that they’re responsible for but aren’t even scheduled to happen for six months. Use a look-ahead filter to display only activities that are likely to have progress on them in a more reasonable timeframe – let’s say six to eight weeks out. Lastly, increase your row height in the layout and choose not to show the Gantt chart in the print-out. By following these few suggestions, you will have created a very basic, spreadsheet looking report only a few pages deep that they can simply mark-up and return.
These recommendations won’t eliminate all schedule update resistance, but it should reduce the foot dragging considerably. Filtered layouts are just one tool in Primavera P6 to assist the update process. Explore some of the other options the program offers for updating like export to Excel, Reflection Projects, Auto Compute Actuals, and Progress Reporter (Timesheets). For more information on any of these update features, contact Critical Business Analysis, Inc. for assistance.read more