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.
In the many Project Control Roles that I have performed over the years, one of the tasks that is always of substantial importance to the P6 Customer is managing the consistency of project data within an Enterprise Database. As most of you may have experienced, when a P6 environment lacks the guidance for maintaining project integrity across all projects in the EPS, the pristine data that was present when you first set up your environment becomes a faint image of times past. One of the easiest ways to manage these issues is found in P6 R8 and is called “Schedule Checker.” Now, many of the tasks that were too time consuming to manage or just not available in a refined singular tool format, are at your fingertips. Rather than setting up Schedule Logs, QC Filters, QC Layouts and Reports, you now have a simple 14 point checkup to provide a concise report where the QC results are determined by the configurable thresholds defined by you. Items such as long lag and large durations are especially helpful if you are running Risk Analysis against your project.
The first thing to do is set up the 14 Configurable User Thresholds. The Schedule Checker can be run against one or multiple projects. You can save the thresholds to run again for the project that is open.
Shown below is the top half of the Schedule Check Summary Report.
Reference below the lower half of the Schedule Check report. A detailed summary for all activities that fall outside of the thresholds can be displayed in each section. Note the expanded Soft Constraint and Invalid Progress Dates sections.
Of course, analyzing the results is just the beginning for schedule maintenance, but the quick access to the QC data is great!!
Next up – Using P68.2 Web to import Resources from Excel
CBA Invites You to Oracle’s Virtual Summit: Driving Growth with Mission-Critical Enterprise PPM
Last year, close to 1,500 executives and professionals from around the world came together online to exchange ideas with peers and learn from Oracle Primavera experts about the value of Enterprise Project Portfolio Management. Don’t miss the 2011 Oracle Primavera Virtual Summit:
Driving Growth with Mission-Critical Enterprise PPM
Discover how Enterprise Project Portfolio Management can be used as a competitive advantage to drive growth and impact your organization’s financial performance.
CLICK HERE to register and view the agenda, or call 1-419-874-0800 and we will be glad to register you for the summit.
This year’s Primavera Virtual Summit will be held on November 17th from 10 a.m. EST to 5 p.m. EST and will provide a global forum for executives and professionals to network, exchange ideas, get answers and attend insightful live presentations about mission-critical Enterprise Project Portfolio Management.
The exceptional agenda features three tracks specifically designed to meet your needs:
- Executive Track: Listen to Oracle executives discuss how Enterprise Project Portfolio Management is critical to your organization’s success and can drive growth and shareholder value.
- Customer Track: Hear from leading organizations as they share their successes with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management.
- Solutions Track: Join Oracle’s Primavera Product Strategy team as they discuss current solutions, new releases and the future of Oracle Primavera.
Don’t miss out on the chance to interact with EPPM executives and experts, network with your peers and gain the knowledge you need in this free online event that you can attend right from the convenience of your desktop.
CLICK HERE to register and view the agenda, or call 1-419-874-0800.read more
How to turn the P6 XER Import “Blues” to Pure “Rock n Roll”
If you are like most P6 users, you have tried to import subcontractor or owner P6 XER files into your database and corrupted your Global data. As we all have learned, global data assigned to an XER schedule will populate your database global data upon import. For users who import XER’s on a regular basis a standard practice has been to first import the XER into a sandbox database. There in the sandbox database the Global data can be modified as required prior to importing the XER into your production database. For those who have tried this I am sure you would agree that it is a slow and tedious process. UG! But there is a better way!!!!
A new software application called Xena is now available to easily manage the global data of the incoming XER schedule prior to importing into your production database. With the Xena tool you have the options to:
Assign a prefix to Global Codes, Activity Code Values, Calendars, Resources, UDF’s, and Notebooks so that they are segregated in your global structure upon import
Rename Global Codes, Activity Code Values, Calendars, UDF’s, Notebooks, Unit of Measure.
Reduce status of Activity Codes from Global to Project level
Delete Global Codes, Activity Code Values, Calendars, Resources, UDF’s, Notebooks, Unit of Measure.
So….how is Xena used. Take the XER you want to import into the production database and import it into the Xena tool. Modify all global data with the options listed above. Save all modification procedures as a Xena template so the next time you import an updated XER the template will remember the set up for handling global data. Export the Xena revised XER file and import it into your production database. Xena also includes a tool that allows you to quickly de-status projects or to remove data such as financials prior to exporting to a sub or owner.
Feel free to contact CBA if you have any questions about the Xena tool.
I am often asked whether it is better to structure a project using P6 WBS or Activity Codes. To a certain degree, it is a matter of personal preference, as either method can provide a structure in which to manage the deliverables of a project. My preference is to build a schedule utilizing a WBS, in a traditional manner, to lay out the projects deliverables and workflow. I would then use Activity Codes to supplement the ability to group, filter, and sort project data, therefore, enhancing performance analysis and reporting. I have also utilized project structures where the WBS was built out to a level 3 or 4 and then activity Codes were used for the remaining project levels. Project integration to Master Projects, owner requirements, and project management principles are other factors to consider when deciding how to structure projects.
And Now Beyond the Obvious…
Outside of personal preferences and integration needs, additional factors should be considered when deciding how to structure a project. The following are WBS attributes that cannot be performed and/or utilized by Activity Codes:
- WBS Summary Activities: A great way to highlight a Level 2 Schedule with a neat waterfall flow and to manage resources and costs at a rolled up level
- WBS elements can have Notebooks assigned
- WBS elements can have Work Products and Documents assigned
- Security can be assigned at the WBS level
- Thresholds, Risks, and Issues can be monitored and tracked at the WBS level
- Budgets, Spending Plans, and Budgets Logs can be managed and tracked at the WBS level
- Copying activities is a much easier task when grouped by WBS
- Earned Value attributes including WBS EV Milestones can be set at the WBS level
- The Tracking View is designed to use WBS elements
- Long range Resource Planning can be performed at the WBS level
- Projects can be summarized to specific WBS levels
- In R8, you can use WBS elements to develop project template plug-ins or fragnets (mini-templates) to populate existing or new projects
So the next time you are planning out the development of a Primavera project consider all of the facts before deciding what the best method will be to structure your project.read more
You read the bid specs for a highly desirable job and find out, that to be the successful bidder, the project schedule must be done in P6 and, on top of that, the schedule is to be resource loaded. Your team is very proficient using Project as a scheduling tool but have never used P6. It is important that your Construction Company gets this job…so you consider your options.
- Contract someone to create and manage the P6 schedule? (one time short term benefit with no option for an internal future P6 plan)
- Contract someone to create the P6 schedule, install P6 and quickly train the Project Team how to manage a schedule in Primavera? ( risky since the internal folks will have very little practical experience )
- Bring in a consultant to install the P6 software, train your project managers, set up the database environment for future scheduling needs and let your internal folks create and manage the schedule? ( probable the best option under the circumstances but not ideal as the time needed to effectively plan out how to utilize the P6 product may not be available…Good pre-planning is always one of the keys to success)
- Use your time machine to go back in the past and implement P6 using a well thought out plan now that you have the necessary time to do it right? (the best option if only….)
Of course, you don’t have connections with the late H.G. Wells so the Time Machine is not an option. What you do have is the knowledge that more and more project owners are requiring the use of P6 as the scheduling tool. So don’t you get caught with your P6 down. Take the initiative now to make the investment in your team to successfully meet the current P6 scheduling needs of today’s project owners.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