One of the advantages of Primavera P6 and its use of a database structure is the ability for multiple users to share files. This can also be a disadvantage, however. P6 administrators can restrict users in many ways, but once a user to given permission to do something, well, the hope is that he or she does not make a total mess of things. As a professional Primavera P6 trainer it always baffles me that someone might expect to master the art of scheduling without any formal instruction. There are not too many self-taught painters to my knowledge. Carpenters, bricklayers, mechanics, etc. all go through a training or apprenticeship program to learn their skills.
When Malcolm Gladwell described “The 10,000 Hour Rule” in his best-selling novel, Outliers, he could have very well been talking about scheduling. After I had been scheduling projects full-time for about five years – or roughly 10,000 hours – I felt like I had finally mastered the art of scheduling. And keep in mind, I was working on schedules every single working day. Many Primavera users only touch their schedules once a month during the update process. As a consultant, I was working on several projects simultaneously. In a typical month I would create two baseline schedules and update ten or more schedules.
But I digress. Today I want to talk about “Carl” and his dilemma. Carl attended one of my Primavera P6 classes in Oklahoma after pulling a 12-hour shift at a refinery. So you can imagine that by the end of an 8-hour class he was pretty beat. But he stuck around after class to talk about a specific problem he was having. You see, Carl was one of about a dozen schedulers working on the same project. Refinery shutdowns are very difficult to schedule. Durations are measured in minutes, not days. A six-month shutdown might require 25,000 activities to schedule. No single person could possibly handle this workload.
One particular problem that Carl was having is that he would calculate the schedule (i.e. F9) and there would be loops in the logic. And then everyone would yell at him for fouling up the schedule. Except that Carl was pretty sure he was not the culprit. He was simply the person running the schedule at the end of the day after everyone else had been inputting changes. This was your basic “shoot the messenger” situation. Carl was taking all the blame because he did not know how to figure out who was causing the problem.
While there is no perfect solution to Carl’s dilemma I was able to show him the audit columns in Primavera P6. These columns, available in the Activities Window, provide the following information regarding an activity:
- Who added the activity (“Added By”)
- When the activity was added (“Added Date”)
- The last person to make a change (“Last Modified By”)
- The date the most recent change was made (“Last Modified Date”)
These columns can be seen in the screenshot below:
Activity ID E2045 was originally added on February 27, 2015 by user “admin” and then modified about a month later, on March 25, 2015. Obviously we do not know the exact nature of the modification, but we now know where to start looking.
Unfortunately, there are some limitations. Changing the relationships between activities is not considered a modification. So Carl would not be able to identify who made the logic changes that resulted in loops. Still, adding new activities is often the source of a loop in a schedule because of the corresponding new relationships.
Changing an activity duration, on the other hand, is considered to be a modification. Other examples of recognized modifications are:
- Assigning a new resource
- Deleting an existing resource
- Changing a resource’s budget
- Changing the Activity Name
- Assigning a new calendar
Note that if you are displaying time in the date columns (Edit > User Preferences > Dates) then it is possible to track who made the last changes on a given day.
Claim Digger can of course identify changes to relationships, but can not tell you who made the changes. The audit columns are still the best alternative within P6 for identifying the source of changes.
Keep in mind that only the most recent modification date and time is stored in the audit column so there is no way to see whether more than one user has been making changes to the same activity.
Copying a schedule results in the Added Date and Last Modified Date resetting to the day the schedule was copied, so the audit columns are only useful in the original version of the schedule.