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Owning an Activity in P6

Categories: P6 EPPM, P6 Professional
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I was watching a crime drama on BBC television the other night where a rising young detective was explaining to his superiors during dinner the need for “bold delivery of sanctions to the stakeholders”.

“Stakeholders?”, one of his superiors asked.

“Five years ago we just called them criminals”, the young detective replied.

Big laughs all around the table. And I suppose sometimes we feel that project stakeholders are somewhat criminal in what they expect from us. Limited resources paired with unrealistic expectations can be a little maddening for the scheduler who is supposed to create a miracle in the project schedule.

So today we are going to discuss what it means to own an activity. Specifically, we call this the “owner” in Primavera P6. The owner of a task does not have to be a resource, which means that any schedule can take advantage of this feature.

So who exactly can be the owner of an activity? The owner is a Primavera P6 user. If only one person is maintaining the project schedule it probably makes little since to assign owners to activities. In a more complex schedule, however, this feature is quite useful, especially in P6 EPPM.

Knowing how to assign an owner to an activity is the only real trick. You need to add a column to the Activity Table. Owner is found under the General category of columns, as seen below:



How we use the owner depends on which version of P6 that we are using. In P6 Professional the owner is primarily a way to filter out activities in the Activity Table. We can then give each user an idea of which tasks they need to take ownership of in terms of monitoring or updating progress.

In P6 EPPM we can go quite a bit further. To begin with, users can see the activities they own in the Dashboard. As we drink our morning coffee (hot chocolate for me) we can quickly scan all the activities we are responsible for – without having to open up the project schedules. For someone assigned to activities across multiple projects this is a tremendous tool.

Because the Dashboard is typically filtered to show only a portfolio of projects, we must keep in mind that not all of our activities will appear unless they are part of the portfolio currently being viewed. The Dashboard can take a long time to load if you have a large portfolio of projects, so I advise having one portfolio of projects limited to ones with activities that you own.

In the screenshot below you can see the My Activities portlet in the EPPM Dashboard, which is where the activities that I have been identified as the owner reside:


Primavera Scheduling

Here are two other benefits of P6 EPPM. When I click on the project in the portlet it automatically opens the project and takes me to the Activities page. When I click on one of these activities I am taken to a screen that shows me details of that activity. I can also edit progress on this activity:


Primavera Scheduling

The user will need access to the Projects module in P6 EPPM and have permission to edit activities. P6 Progress Reporter (a separate module in P6 EPPM) also utilizes owner to assign users to activities. This module is a simplified interface that can be run on tablets and much cheaper than a full P6 EPPM license.

Even on a smaller schedule we might have one person responsible for updating progress on submittals while someone else handles field activities. Quite a few of my clients have no desire to set up resources so this is an easy compromise for assigning activities to different people. Moreover, it may be practical to have just a few people reporting progress on activities without expecting every resource to provide this information.

Bottom line: if you do not want to assign resources to activities you can still use the owner field to track progress on activities.


Claim Digger Limitations

Categories: Claim Digger, P6 Calendars, P6 EPPM, P6 Professional, P6 Tricks
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Primavera SchedulingClaim Digger is a convenient tool inside Primavera P6 for comparing schedule files to determine what changes have been made. But there are limitations to what Claim Digger can tell us about a revised file. Experienced Primavera users will recall that Claim Digger used to be a third-party program used to analyze Primavera P3 files. When Claim Digger was incorporated into Primavera P6 several years ago the functionality changed in ways that were both good and bad. Being able to export to HTML format is nice, but having the durations (including float and lags) displayed in hours is inconvenient on schedules with durations that are shown in days.

There are third-party software programs that can do much more than Claim Digger. Still, if you think that Primavera P6 costs as much as having a baby then anything that is “free” will be the most desirable option. So most of us will have to get by with Claim Digger until money starts growing on trees.

Note: in Version 16.1 of Primavera P6 Claim Digger is now called Schedule Comparison and is accessed from the Visualizer program. You will find Scheduler Comparison in the same location (Tools) as Claim Digger but clicking on this button will launch the Visualizer program.

The biggest limitation in Claim Digger has to do with calendars. Here are two scenarios where Claim Diggers will let you down:

  1. Changes made to a calendar, such as revisions to the number of hours per day, days per week, holidays, etc. are not picked up by Claim Digger
  2. Changing the calendar on an activity from Global to Project (or vice versa) is not picked up if both calendars have the same exact name

Indeed, Claim Digger will tell us nothing about calendars other than whether the name of the calendar is different. To demonstrate this for myself I created a Project calendar called “Standard” that is a copy of a Global calendar with the same name. I assigned the Global calendar to all of the activities in a sample project. After creating a baseline (copy) of this project I switched the calendar on the activities in the current project to the Project calendar. Claim Digger did not report any changes to calendars.

I then changed the name of my Project calendar in the current project to “Standard Days” and re-ran Claim Digger. As I expected, Claim Digger reported that I had changed the calendar. Yet other than the name, it was still the same Project calendar. I hadn’t changed anything else. In other words, a false positive.

Owners often run Claim Digger (or ask for the results) so anything that suggests a change when in fact no change was made creates unnecessary confusion. Conversely, a sneaky scheduler could block out additional days in the calendar to coincide with an owner-caused delay in order to exaggerate the impact. An experienced scheduler should be able to figure out if there are any shenanigans going on, but the reality is that P6 is chock-full of hidden traps for the uninitiated.

While we are on the subject, I often refer to myself as a “Primavera P6 Scheduler” because there are in fact specific techniques to scheduling projects with Primavera P6. Case in point: Microsoft Project does not allow two relationships between the same two activities, while in Primavera P6 this is perfectly acceptable. A good scheduler with poor Primavera P6 skills can still make a lot of mistakes because of their unfamiliarity with the program. For the same reason, I tend to be very cautious in Microsoft Project because it is not my bread and butter.

I started using Primavera software in 1987 so in my mind the rules that I observe have almost always been specific to one particular program. Prior to 1987 the software I used was proprietary and followed basic Critical Path Method rules. But CPM does not teach you about Activity Codes, Resource Leveling, and so many other things that are now possible because of software any more than an accountant would automatically know how to create a macro in Microsoft Excel.

“Old-school” schedulers who refuse to stay current on scheduling software get no sympathy from me. I started with proprietary scheduling software, learned Primavera P3, followed by Primavera SureTrak, Primavera Primavera P6, Primavera Contractor, and Primavera P6 EPPM. Not to mention all of the other programs like Microsoft Office that I have had to learn over the years. I had to learn WordPress just to type this silly blog!


Oracle released new versions of P6 Professional Project Management (PPM) and P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) in March 2015. Version 15.1 is the first new release since Version 8.4 was released last September. Why the big jump in numbering? Well, Oracle tells us that all future releases will incorporate the year it was released, so Version 15.1 is the first release of 2015. If nothing else, it will be easier to remember when you bought the software!


The biggest improvement is the ability to export baselines along with the current schedule. Yes! Now when you send a schedule to another party they can access the same baselines that you are using. In the past, recipients would have to convert existing schedules in order to make baseline comparisons. However, the sender can choose which, if any, baselines to export.

Note: schedules must be exported in the P6 XML format in order to take advantage of this new feature.

Other changes in Version 15.1 include:

  • Visualizer can now be run on a computer without installing P6 Professional, so users who only want to view a time-scaled logic diagram (TSLD) do not need access to the P6 module.
  • Resource bucket planning is supported. Planned and remaining units can be typed in the remaining time periods (days, weeks, etc.) for more accurate forecasting. Doing this changes the resource curve to manual, indicating that resources are being distributed manually.
  • The ability to cut, copy and paste multiple projects at the same time, which was previously not possible in the P6 Web component of EPPM.
  • The ability to customize columns in the Project, WBS and Activity detail windows, not previously possible in the P6 Web component of EPPM
  • Start, Finish and WBS can now be added as columns in the relationships detail window, also not previously possible in the P6 Web component of EPPM.
In addition, Version 15.1 improves the P6 Professional component of EPPM by restoring the following features that are available to standalone users:
  • EPS
  • OBS
  • Project Codes
  • Activity Step Templates
  • Cost Accounts
  • Funding Sources

Connecting to an EPPM database using the P6 Professional component has always been somewhat of a compromise in the past in terms of functionality so it is nice to see these “new” features.


The ability to export baselines and resource bucket planning are the game-changers on this new release. Having to send projects to someone else and then instruct them to convert projects as baselines on their end is a time-consuming process. Pretty much any time I update a project I want to compare progress to a baseline – typically the previous update or the original plan. So this feature is most welcome.


Likewise, resource bucket planning was something needed for quite some time. Some of my clients are planning projects that will last 10, 20 or even 50 (!) years. Being able to distribute resources manually as more information becomes available is very important. Funding for long-term projects is often subject to annual appropriations so the resources must be adjusted accordingly.


We have been teaching Version 15.1 in our live online and in-person classes for the past two months and have been very impressed with the enhancements. For additional information regarding Version 15.1 click here for P6 Professional and here for P6 EPPM.


Below are screenshots from P6 EPPM demonstrating the new export baselines and resource bucket planning features:


Copy Baselines_P6 EPPM 15.1
Resource Bucket Planning_P6 EPPM 15.1

2014 was the best year ever for Primavera Scheduling and our parent company, Construction Science. But while higher revenues are always welcome it was really the range of clients and training experiences that made 2014 very special. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • We provided Primavera P6 training to a NASA contractor working on the Orion space program. Orion is the first deep-space program initiated by NASA since Apollo. As someone who well remembers landing on the moon – I was 11 years old when it happened – the idea of going back to deep space is very exciting. No decision has been made by NASA on a destination, but Mars or an asteroid seem like distinct possibilities.
  • We provided Primavera P6 training to Disney’s Creative Costuming at Disneyland. Yes, Disney uses Primavera P6 to schedule the making of costumes for all of their major theme-park characters. We spent one day at Disney University (!) teaching class and another day teaching at the actual location where the costumes are made. The effort that goes into making these costumes is quite extraordinary.
  • We provided Primavera P6 training to the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego. One of the interesting tidbits that came out of this training is that the Admiral of the Navy does not like red bars on the Gantt charts. He apparently believes that “red” means the project is behind schedule. And you definitely do not want to make the guy in charge of the Navy’s weaponry mad. So we showed the SPAWAR team how to make the critical path bars another color.
  • We provided Primavera P6 training to a general contractor in Chicago who is renovating Wrigley Field. This $575M project represents the most extensive renovations ever made to Wrigley Field, one of America’s oldest ballparks.  This will be an incredibly difficult project due to the historic status of Wrigley Field – even the ivy that covers the outfield walls is a protected landmark. ESPN has posted some great high-resolution photos of what the renovated ballpark will look like.
  • I was selected by Lorman Seminars to be a presenter and moderator of its “Tricks, Traps and Ploys Used in Construction Scheduling” seminar in Sacramento, CA. After 31 years as a professional scheduler it was fun to talk about all the sneaky stuff that is sometimes part of CPM scheduling. An audio recording of the seminar and the training manual can be obtained at a 50% discount by using this link.
  • Our Primavera software sales nearly doubled compared to 2013. We have always offered very competitive pricing but we firmly believe that our personal attention to clients is really the deciding factor. With the various versions of Primavera software that are available (Contractor, P6 Professional and P6 EPPM) we try very hard to steer our clients to the right product for their needs.

On a more personal note, the partners in our firm attended Game 4 of the 2014 World Series in San Francisco. What an amazing experience! Attending a World Series game is, in my opinion, a “bucket-list” item. Winning the World Series? Priceless! Actually, this was a very special World Series for me as my first baseball love was the Kansas City Royals and now I root for the San Francisco Giants. Given how I feel about both teams maybe this should count as two bucket-list items!

To all of our clients we send our heartfelt thanks and gratitude. And we wish all of you a great 2015.


Primavera P6 R8.4 Database Options

Categories: Claim Digger, P6 EPPM, P6 Professional, P6 Web, Primavera P6
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Coal miner at work with pick axIn a recent blog for Construction Science I discussed some of the new features of Release 8.4 for Primavera P6 Professional and EPPM. Today I would like to discuss the database options for a standalone installation of P6 Professional. Oracle 10g Express (Oracle XE) has been included with P6 for several years. Users could also choose from one of several versions of Microsoft’s SQL Server, but most opted for SQL Server 2005 Express Edition because it is a free program. Both of these options are still available. But Release 8.4 introduces another option, SQLite. The advantage of SQLite is that it does not have the size limitation of Oracle XE (4 GB) and is easier to manage than Oracle XE or Microsoft SQL. Backing up a database is now as easy as copying a file folder because SQLite is a serverless database engine. For users who have struggled with Oracle XE or Microsoft SQL Server, SQLite seems like a great option.

Ah, but there is a trade-off for simplicity! Oracle’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are not compatible with SQLite. This is something Oracle intends to fix in a future P6 release or patch. APIs are the building blocks of many software programs, and while it is not something most of us would ever realize, Oracle’s Claim Digger is an API. So Claim Digger is not accessible when using SQLite. For me, that is a deal-breaker. I use Claim Digger nearly every day to analyze files. In some situations my clients have more than one version of a baseline schedule or update on their server and they no longer remember why. If some of these files are in fact identical we can delete them without any concern. At the very least, Claim Digger will tell us what the differences are. Most owners also expect contractors to explain what changes were made during the update process, and the Claim Digger report usually suffices.

Claim Digger does have some limitations, which I will discuss in a future blog, and there are third-party programs that are more powerful. However, Claim Digger is included with P6 so it is a tool that all users have access to without spending more money. I will accept free help anytime!

Also, because SQLite is truly a single-user environment, there are several other restrictions:

  • There are no User or Security Profiles, as there can only be one user
  • All projects are opened in Shared mode; Read Only and Exclusive modes are disabled
  • Sending e-mail notifications of Project Issues is not supported
  • Advanced import options are disabled for projects in XML format
  • Check In and Check Out of projects are disabled
  • There are no options to save data for All Users or Another User (layouts, etc.)
  • Job Services is not supported; Jobs cannot be scheduled
  • Update Baseline and Risk Analysis are not supported