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Owning an Activity in P6

Categories: P6 EPPM, P6 Professional
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Primavera Scheduling

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!


Software Glitch In P6 V15.2

Categories: P6 Professional, Primavera P6, Primavera P6 Client
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toolsIf you are thinking of buying Primavera P6 Professional then please be aware of a software glitch in Version 15.2 that is causing a few headaches. Thankfully, you can still download two older versions of Primavera P6 Professional from the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud: Versions 8.4 and 15.1 are currently still available. We recommend downloading one of these versions until we are able to confirm whether the next release of Primavera P6 (Version 16.1) fixes this problem. Version 16.1 is scheduled to be released by the end of March 2016. Regular readers of our blog are no doubt aware that Oracle now releases new versions of Primavera P6 twice a year, in the Spring and Fall. This new procedure started in 2015.

Version 15.2 was the first 64-bit release of Primavera P6. Now, when downloading Primavera P6 from the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud, you can be forgiven for wondering why Oracle always asks if you want to download the 32-bit or the 64-bit version of the program. Prior to Version 15.2 it did not matter which version you chose because they were the same program. Keep in mind, however, that Oracle has hundreds of programs available for downloading so the 32-bit vs. 64-bit question is not confined to Primavera software.

According to Oracle, there are certain advantages to the new 64-bit version of Primavera P6:

  • Build larger and more complex projects, with faster response times
  • Work with multiple languages at the same time
  • Higher memory limits supported for faster performance
  • Fewer crashes due to memory issues

Sounds great! Unfortunately, the new 64-bit coding in V15.2 is making it impossible to add or modify variables in the header or footer of a layout. A variable is a data field that is filled out by Primavera P6. For example, the project name or the data date. So rather than typing the project name or data date in the header or footer we simply add a variable to do this instead. This way, if we open a different project the current data will be displayed without any manual revisions.

Anyone who has inserted a page number into a Microsoft Word document or Excel spreadsheet has been using what Primavera P6 calls a variable. An example of a Primavera P6 variable appears below. The variable “Layout Name” appears in brackets:

Primavera Scheduling







This is a confirmed defect. You can find a few additional details in Doc ID 2096207.1 if you have access to My Oracle Support. Oracle has confirmed that the defect will be addressed in a future release.

I like to display certain information in my page headers and footers so that people understand some of the basic parameters of the schedule. This data includes:

  • Layout Name
  • Filter List
  • Print Date and Time
  • Page Number and Total Pages
  • Project Name
  • Data Date

But since these are variables I have a problem. To be sure, I have some layouts created in older versions of Primavera P6 that already have these variables, so I am not completely out of luck. When upgrading Primavera P6 most of us keep our existing databases so anything stored there is still available. But for new Primavera P6 users who started with Version 15.2 they have not had a chance to create any layouts yet. Therefore, the only options are to use the variables already present in the standard layouts, or manually type this information. (If someone sends you a layout they created you can of course import this into Primavera P6).

So, fingers crossed! Let us hope that P6 Version 16.1 fixes this problem.


Using Activity Steps

Categories: Activity Steps, P6 EPPM, P6 Professional, Primavera layouts
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note_bookActivity Steps offer several advantages. One, you can break down a complex activity into a series of, well, steps that better describe the scope of work. The activity name does not need to go into a great deal of detail because the steps offer additional explanation. Two, it becomes much easier to update a complex activity with steps because rather than trying to come up with a percent complete for the overall task, each step is updated individually, thereby generating an overall percent complete. Have you ever decided that an activity was 37.25% complete? Me neither, but Activity Steps can do that.

Third, Activity Steps do not requite logic so it is a great way to track work that cannot easily be sequenced. Let us say there are several air handling units in the building and you have been told that only one will be installed at a time due to the available manpower. But no one knows the order in which the AHUs will be installed. No problem. We can list the AHUs as Activity Steps; the work cannot proceed out-of-sequence since there is no predefined sequence.

In order to use steps we must first tell P6 that we are planning to use steps. This is done in the Projects detail window, under the Calculations tab:

Activity Steps_1


This box is normally unchecked by default when a new project is added to the database so it is very important to take care of this right away. Next, activities that will be using steps must have “Physical” as the % Complete Type:

Activity Steps_2


Note that other activities in the project can still use “Duration” or “Units” as the % Complete Type. Now we are ready to add Activity Steps. In the next screenshot I have added a series of steps for the activity Build Retaining Wall:

Activity Steps_3


Each step is assigned a Step Weight, which then determines the Step Weight Percent. The total of all the steps will automatically equal 100%. The columns shown above do not show up in a typical layout so it will be necessary to add them by right-clicking in the Steps tab. You will find them in the General category of columns.

When updating an activity with Steps you must first record an Actual Start date. The Step % Complete column is used for activities that have started but are not complete. Otherwise, checking the Completed box closes out the Step.

If you expect to use the same Steps on other activities (or other projects) then it is a good idea to create Activity Step Templates:

Activity Steps_5

Activity Steps_6











These templates can then be inserted into the Steps tab for activities.

Perhaps the only disadvantage of using Activity Steps is that the Step Names cannot be displayed in the Activity Table – only the number of Steps – so a printout does not convey as much information as what is visible in the Steps tab. Still, I see the Steps as something used by the scheduler to status the activity more accurately.

So the only question is, how will you use Activity Steps?


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

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:

  1. Who added the activity (“Added By”)
  2. When the activity was added (“Added Date”)
  3. The last person to make a change (“Last Modified By”)
  4. The date the most recent change was made (“Last Modified Date”)

These columns can be seen in the screenshot below:

Audit Trail Columns


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.

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

Exporting Groups of Projects

Categories: P6 Professional, Primavera P6
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Backing up a Primavera P6 database is the best option for moving the entire set of project data – schedules, resources, calendars, layouts, etc. – to another computer. But if the only goal is to move a group of projects from one database to another, there is an easy way to do this very quickly.

We all know that a project must be open in order to be exported. So the first step is to simultaneously open all of the projects that need to be exported. Caveat: you cannot open more than 100,000 activities concurrently in P6 Professional but there is otherwise no limit to how many projects can be opened at the same time. For this reason I recommend exporting groups of projects based on either a Project Portfolio or EPS node.

In the first screenshot I have selected a group of projects based on their EPS Node. I can either highlight projects individually using Shift or Ctrl on the keyboard, or simply highlight the EPS Node itself:

Exporting Multiple Projects_1






Now that the projects are open I can then start the normal export process, as seen in the next two screenshots. The only difference is that I am selecting a common name for all of the projects. I typically name the file after the Project Portfolio or EPS Node to avoid confusing a group of projects with a single project. In this example I have called the common file, “Manufacturing Projects”:

Exporting Multiple Projects_3Exporting Multiple Projects_2









When importing the group of projects I still have the option of importing some or all of the projects. Note that because I am importing back into the same database Primavera P6 is warning me that matches across the board were found.

Exporting Multiple Projects_4








That is all it takes to move a group of projects from one database to another. When I am working on construction claims this is a great way to send the attorneys all of the project files. The size of the common file will of course be larger than normal but XER files are text-based and generally never get too large to email as an attachment.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me.



Primavera P6 Professional Version 8.3 Released

Categories: Primavera P6
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Oracle recently released Version 8.3 for both P6 Professional (PPM) and P6 Enterprise (EPPM). Today we will be discussing changes to P6 Professional.


Visualizer is a new feature that supports graphical reporting via customizable Gantt charts and timescaled logic diagrams (TSLDs). The TSLD was initially introduced with Version 8.0 and is now replaced by Visualizer. One of the advantages of a TSLD is the ability to show more than one activity on the same line, which reduces the height of the logic diagram considerably.

In addition to the P6 Professional’s standard graphical features, Visualizer adds the following features:

  • Stack columns and use word wrapping in the Gantt chart
  • Use notebook topics or a list of steps as a bar label or as a field in the activity table
  • Apply various fonts to individual labels and fields
  • Color-code and apply different shapes for bars and endpoints
  • Draw bars on top of each other, for example, to show critical highlighting

Visualizer is a desktop application that can be launched either from within P6 Professional or from the computer’s start menu. It connects directly to the P6 database. This marks the first time users have been able to view project data without launching P6.

After launching Visualizer, users can choose to create or open a TSLD or Gantt chart. Users can also print and manage layouts from inside Visualizer. P6 Professional layouts or Visualizer layouts created by other users can even be imported.

The Gantt chart includes a grid and a bar chart. The grid displays activity information in a table format, similar to the Activity Table in P6 Professional. On the Chart & Grid tab in Layout Options, display the Gantt chart, the grid, or both.

The screen below shows an example of a TSLD in Visualizer with multiple bars per row and critical activities coded in red:

Visualizer TSLD

Discussion Feature

Previously we had the ability to track comments about activities using the Notebook tab in the Activity view. Version 8.3 adds a new Discussion feature that tracks these comments by team member. All comments are dated and labeled with the contributor’s name. Similar to Notebook comments, Discussions are stored electronically with the activities. This is a nice tool for encouraging dialogue and feedback on activities.

Also, we can now add a column called “Unread Comments” to the Activity Table to prompt team members to review the most recent Discussions. Notebook comments, by comparison, can only be shown as a label on an activity bar and do not appear in the Activity Table.

Visualizer Discussion Tool

XML Import/Export Enhancements

P6 Professional Version 8.3 provides a number of enhancements to its XML import/export functionality. Users can now exchange XML project files with previous versions of P6 Professional from Version 6.2 Service Pack 4 (SP4) onward. Also, all features supported by the P6 Professional XER format (constraining of external relationships during import, inclusion of Price/Unit in resource assignments, etc.) are supported in XML format as well.

P6 Professional Version 8.3 also gives users the ability to import or export multiple projects simultaneously. When exporting multiple projects, the projects are combined into a single XML file. Importing multiple projects requires the projects to be contained in a single XML file.

Visualizer Export

Bottom Line – Worth an Upgrade?

Users who have a current support agreement with Oracle can upgrade to Version 8.3 for free. Otherwise, you will have to pay full price to get the newest version. Version 8.3 does have some nice enhancements but they are not worth buying a new license. The TSLD still does not show relationship lags – only the relationship types – despite several upgrades since it was first introduced. Users have been asking for this feature for quite a while. Of course, the Gantt chart does not show the lags either so we will have to wait until, perhaps, Version 8.4 is released.

In the meantime, we will be testing Version 8.3 for bugs. Versions 8.1 and 8.2 tend to crash more often than Version 7.0 (our favorite) so reliability is always a concern. The casual user of P6 would not miss the enhancements found in Versions 8.1 and 8.2 so it once again comes down to whether a free upgrade is available. Certainly, new users should consider Version 8.3 as there is no discount for buying older versions and Version 8.3 is backwards compatible with earlier versions of P6 Professional.