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Comments Off on Using Fill Down in Primavera P6 – video

Using Fill Down in Primavera P6 – video

This short video shows how to save time scheduling your projects by using the “Fill Down” feature in Primavera P6. Add this shortcut to your routine to become a more effective scheduler. For more information about our instructor led, in-person training courses at CBA check out our Class Schedule.

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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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Comments Off on Monthly Actual Cost Values Not Matching Stored Period Performance Values for Actual Costs? Why?

Monthly Actual Cost Values Not Matching Stored Period Performance Values for Actual Costs? Why?

Understanding How Costs Display in P6 R8

So you’re viewing a monthly display on the Team Usage page in the web and wondering why the Actual Cost values each month do not match your monthly stored period performance values for Actual Cost.  Don’t be alarmed.  Your database has not been corrupted by a super bug, and possibly more important, you did not screw anything up!

The P6 Stored Period Costs will never match up month to month with the Actual Costs shown on the spread in the Team Usage view.  In P6 web, the Team Usage view is designed to take the overall Actual Cost for an activity and distribute it based on the elapsed duration of the activity.  Like it or not, the Actual Costs will display based on the number of days in each month; what “it” views as elapsed time.   This is true whether you have an integrated solution for updating actuals in P6, you are using timesheets (Progress Reporter) or you have manually entered in actuals at the activity level.  If you need an Actual Cost spread based on stored periods, the best way to get that information is from the Resource Assignments view in the web or P6 Professional client tool.  The Assignments view in both of these tools allow you bring in Period Actuals based on Stored Period Performance Financial Periods. 

So what good is the Team Usage page if you can’t use it for Actual Costs?  If you’re looking to forecast costs and need to know what your Remaining Costs are by month, for example, the Team Usage page is your quickest option in the web because it doesn’t need any filtering and little,if any, formatting.  The Remaining Costs are simply spread through the remaining duration of the activity.  P6 also takes into consideration any resource curves that may be assigned when creating the Remaining Cost spread. So now that the expectations are clear, you and the Team Usage page can be friends again!

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Comments Off on Why Don’t My Finish Dates Correspond to My Activity Durations in P6?

Why Don’t My Finish Dates Correspond to My Activity Durations in P6?

So you schedule your project and things look great and you’re even finishing sooner than you thought!  Unfortunately, upon closer examination, you realize that your durations don’t seem to be matching up with your finish dates, so it looks like you are finishing each activity earlier than you should be.  What’s going on?   In this scenario, you are likely displaying your activity durations in days.  We all know that a “day” on one assigned activity calendar may translate to 8 hours, while on another calendar it may be 10 hours.  And we’re all ecstatic that beginning with P6 v. 7, Oracle Primavera also realized this likely scenario and provided an option in the Admin Preferences that allows you to “Use assigned calendar to specify the number of work hours for each time period” by simply checking a box on the Time Periods tab.  Below are a couple of noteworthy reminders that will likely shed light on why your durations and dates may not jive when using this option:

P6 always calculates in hours. You can view in days, but in the background it calculates in hours.  If your dates look funky, select to show time on the Dates tab in your User Preferences (My Preferences – P6 R8) and you’ll see why.

Expect finish dates to change if you change a calendar’s time periods mid-stream. Be aware that if you change the hours per day on the calendar after you have noted the “daily” durations in the duration column, behind the scenes the durations are automatically going to recalculate in hours in the background. So, if you increase the hours per day on the calendar, depending on the length of the duration, the days may look the same on screen, but the activity will end on an earlier calendar date based off of the hours calculation.  If you decrease your hours per day, again, depending on the length of the duration, you’re likely to see your activity finish dates push out into the future.

Confirm time periods when creating new calendars. When creating new calendars, time periods will be copied over from the template calendar you used. So make sure to check the time periods for the new calendar, preferably before they are assigned to activities.

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Comments Off on Streamline the Schedule Update Process

Streamline the Schedule Update Process

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.

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P6 Project Collaboration Using Different Databases

P6 Project Collaboration Using Different Databases

They won’t give you access to their Primavera P6 database, so how can you update status on your activities in your database and still preserve their information during the import?

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

  1. Open the projects you want to export.
  2. Choose File, Export.
  3. Choose Spreadsheet – (XLS).Export Format window
  4. Select the subject area(s) you want to export.  For example:
    • Activities
    • RelationshipsExport type window
  5. Mark the checkbox for the project from which you want to export its data.Projects to export window
  6. 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.Select template windowModify template columns tabModify template filter tab
  7. After applying the filter on the filter tab, click OK.
  8. 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.Select XLS file window
  9. 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.

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Comments Off on Primavera POINT is Gone-Decoding Oracle/Primavera’s Support Site

Primavera POINT is Gone-Decoding Oracle/Primavera’s Support Site

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.  My Oracle speed trainingThe 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.Michelle Smith

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.

Michelle Smith
Sr. Consultant & Instructor
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