Articles in Category: P6-QA

Is the P6-QA tool only relevant during your planning phase? Absolutely not!

Something we are asked is whether our P6-QA Tool is useful through-out the life cycle of your projects. Its use throughout the planning phase is obvious, of course; it helps with schedule development. Even after you’ve planned out your work though, the QA tool can help while you’re executing your plans. Let us examine a couple examples of how.

Keep in mind - it is beneficial to equip your team with the best tools for the job! Work Smarter, Not Harder!

Scenario 1

During the execution of our schedule, our team loads found work using P6-Loader. Our team didn’t omit any information required by the P6-Loader template. That’s definitely a good start, but just doing that isn’t checking specific schedule quality. The P6-QA tool removes the burden of manual schedule and business process analysis by automatically identifying deficiencies in Primavera P6 schedules based on scheduling best practices, industry standards such as the Defense Contract Management Agency’s (DCMA) 14-point assessment, and user introduced business process requirements.

Your schedule requires the ability to conduct its designated tasks. You are probably wondering 'what tasks'? For example, our schedule needs to reflect the execution plan, contain regular updates and provide the basis for project schedule reports.

Where does the P6-QA tool fit in? You might think you’re done after updating your schedule, but are your updates complete and correct? All execution schedules require regular updates and then analysis after the updates. Imagine having to manually review your updates every day. You’d lose a lot of valuable time! The P6-QA Tool can assist with finding errors that can occur in the information uploaded to your schedule and the information entered in updates.

Imagine that during the update process, someone accidentally enters an incorrect completion date on an activity - this date is past the data date.

In the P6-QA Tool, the negative float would automatically be flagged by DCMA07 in the P6-QA Tool, Negative Float Check.

Another update entry is a logic change required by a change in the execution plan for a couple of work packages. The change is not entered correctly, and therefore when the logic is entered it produces negative float in the schedule.

The logic entered produces negative float in the schedule.

In the P6-QA Tool, the incorrect completion date would be automatically flagged by DCMA09a in the P6-QA Tool, Actual Date (s) After Project DD check.

Here’s a project level display example:

Activity level example:

The desk top icons make locating activities you need to address quick and easy. You can sort, filter and use the icons in group and sort to create detailed layouts making identification of the checks to revisit expeditious.

Another one of our tools, the P6-Loader, creates reports in the project notebook. Some examples of report information from the two checks that did not pass the criteria are below. The report contains all the checks that have passed and failed.

We looked at a couple of the list of DCMA checks the P6-QA Tool runs - there are plenty of other checks as well. The list below contains Business Process Validations run in the P6-QA Tool. These are some common issues, quickly highlighted by P6-QA Tool.

Scenario 2

Say your schedule is not progressing as planned - we need to create a couple of potential mitigation plans (what if scenarios). With the P6-QA tool, you can create copies of your schedule and test them with your proposed fixes. Once you’ve done this, you can address the findings to increase schedule quality maintenance. You set the parameters around the checks.

Above is a display of the parameter settings for the two checks we visited in scenario 1. (We used defaults to run scenario 1.) Being able to set your own parameters means you check your specific requirements, not a preset list of parameters you need to sort through later for applicability.

As you can see, the P6-QA tool remains relevant during your entire project. Empower your team with the best tools for the job with Emerald’s P6-QA tool.

P6-QA in the Real World

Before becoming an implementation specialist at Emerald Associates, I was a project manager and P6 administrator in a state government transportation agency for several years. I was responsible for managing 50-60 Primavera P6-EPPM (Web) project schedules and monitoring them to schedule completion. These projects were for the engineering and design of highway projects including tasks such as road maintenance, new road construction, bridge maintenance, and signals upgrades.

Plan Development - Kick-off meeting

To put together the project's plans, we started with a kick-off meeting to verify the full scope. These projects typically ranged from 500-1500 tasks and ran for 24 to 60 months depending on funding each year and priority. At the kick-off meetings, with a hard copy template schedule in hand, each department head would discuss their role in the project and request adjustments to the schedule accordingly. As the project manager during these meetings, I took note of any deletions, additions, relationship changes, duration changes, etc. required to the schedule and with some project teams we made the changes directly in P6-EPPM in a Reflection Project. The schedule changes from the kick-off meetings ranged from minor to significant. Once I made the changes to the project schedule, a 'final' draft was sent to all the team members who participated in the kick-off meeting so we could get comments and approvals in time for our submission deadlines. If no comments or changes were made, the 'final' draft schedule was accepted and the project moved ahead.

Monthly Updating

Progress on the projects was done on an ongoing basis, with scheduling being done nightly. Project updates including scope changes, adding new tasks, removing unnecessary tasks, and rearranging tasks that needed logic changes were done when needed, via email from the initiating department. I would make changes on a Reflection Project and send the new schedule out for approval, if the float remained positive. If the changes caused the project to fall behind or if a large setback was identified, a schedule review meeting would be held with all the main players in the project. At the meeting, the key players in the schedule's creation and project manager would all gather and review the schedule for the project. Changes would be done on the fly in a Reflection Project and re-scheduled during the meeting, when possible. If many significant schedule changes needed to be made I would note these changes and complete them after the meeting so we didn't waste time during the meeting itself and I'd send out the new schedule for the project team to review and approve again.

Now theoretically the project schedule should have been fully reviewed by everyone involved. Unfortunately, this was not always the case and errors were commonly found within the updated schedule as the project progressed. There were a few reasons for this: Sometimes as a result of the dissolution of various activities, one activity would be 'overloaded' with unnecessary relationships and odd relationship types, often to the same activities, which would impact the schedule calculations. Also, periodically, there were problems with added activities that may have had relationships that were not added or added incorrectly or perhaps a duration was added incorrectly. Sometimes, a new activity ID would be entered incorrectly without notice. In essence, there were any number of things that could have negatively impacted our schedule quality. If only I had a tool available to check the nuances of the schedule for me and flag them, so I would know where to look. Little did I know there was a tool out there that would have saved me countless hours reviewing and analyzing this schedule.

If I had had the P6-QA tool to help in analyzing my schedule after changes were made and before the schedule was sent out, I could have sent out a schedule that would have automatically been checked for logic, logic types, missing codes on the activities, activity ID format and other business process checks that we could have created specifically for our needs. The use of P6-QA would have cut down the time it took me to send out revised schedules from several days to less than one.

Having P6-QA there to act as my safety net on the project changes as they were made would have been extremely helpful to ensure the changes made sense and did not negatively impact other parts of the schedule. I could have run the P6-QA check while everyone was in the meeting, let it pinpoint possible problems, and then discuss those issues with the team immediately. This alone would have saved me multiple e-mails back and forth after I analyzed the schedule after the team meeting.

I am positive buying P6-QA would not only save any company time and money, it would help them produce quality P6 schedules.

Tracking Mandatory Codes via P6-QA

These reports require specific activity code assignments, and sometimes those are missing! Assigning these this is time consuming and frustrating. But don't worry, help is available... With the P6-QA tool!

One of the numerous features available in the P6-QA tool is quickly checking a specific set of mandatory activity codes in P6 Schedules, producing quick results to know which files as well as activities in the files are missing the mandatory activity code assignments. Mandatory activity codes in the P6-QA Tool can now be set at the global or project level. In previous versions of the P6-QA Tool the Mandatory Codes check could only be used on Global Activity Codes. Quickly ensuring the mandatory codes are assigned helps ensure reports issued are correct.

Thinking this is difficult to set up/use? No catch, the process is easy.


First Step: Login to P6.

Set up the required codes as Mandatory codes in the P6-QA Tool. Sound difficult? Not at all! The activity codes that are assigned as Mandatory simply need (*) added to the end of each activity code.

Let’s have a look at a small example.

We have one Global Activity Code set up as Mandatory (above).

We have two Project Level Mandatory Codes set up (above).

We have assigned some of the Mandatory Codes to some activities above. We need to run the P6-QA tool.

Above is the project file this example is using – the QA-P6-QA Last Run Date has been cleared to run the P6-QA Tool. Note the QA-CL – No Mandatory Code and the QA-CL- No Mandatory Global Code columns. These will be populated to indicate at the project level the status of the two checks. Our example is running just one project file – you can set up a QA – Frequency (see column above) for the P6-QA Tool to run on each file or manually run single or specific groups of P6 project files.

Above the specific tolerance fields have been included, which can be set for these two checks. You control the specific conditions flagged in the P6-QA Tool and at which level.

The layout above is grouping by activity type, showing the activity codes and their assignments from the P6-QA Tool check.

The user can filter/group and sort on the mandatory activity code values right in the activities tab to produce a quick layout that directs them to the issues to facilitate quick correction. Use your specific project codes to create a layout that works for your business. Don’t forget – save your layout/reuse. This is a simple example of 3 mandatory codes - set up the codes you require as mandatory - a few or many more.

Are You Tracking Activities Completed Late? P6-QA Tool Can Help With That Task!

Wondering how exactly? After your updates have been entered into your schedule, run the P6-QA Tool. This tool performs many checks, including one to track Activities Completed Late.

Let’s have a look at a small example. We have entered updates in our sample schedule.

Now we run the P6-QA Tool by simply clearing the QA-P6-QA Last Run Date column and refreshing.

Once the P6-QA is finished running the QA-P6-QA Last Run Date column is populated as well as the QA-ST – Act: Compl Finished Late column indicator.

In the Activities tab the layout (below) is showing the QA-ST – Act: Compl Finished Late column as well as the QA-ST – Activity Completed columns. Each is populated with the icon produced by the check run.
(Note that you control the QA-ST – Act: Compl Finished Late – TG# and QA-ST – Act: Compl Finished Late – Wt% columns by populating the tolerances you want to use in the check and overall calculation.)

The user can use the indicators for the checks directly in layouts in the activities tab to display, group, sort and filter as required to produce a useful layout.

Layouts can include filters/grouping based on the check results along with activity counts to make layout reports easier to digest and summarize. (Above layout is filtered on only the Completed activities finished late.) Create layouts to track activities completed/activities completed late, and after each update simply run the P6-QA Tool, review the results and distribute the information.

The P6-QA Tool runs a large number of checks providing a variety of quick, visual feedback on the results. You are in control – settings for checks can the same for all projects/different for each project or a mix in between. Provide your team with the P6-QA Tool and work smarter, not harder!

DOT's and Emerald Associates - We Can Make Your Job Easier

Emerald Associates is well known in the US and Canada for our homegrown add-on tools for Primavera P6. We have assisted numerous companies in many diverse areas to get the most out of their P6 software. You may wonder how our tools can assist in the Departments of Transportation (DOT) field to get more done in P6, with less time, while still providing useful data to your stakeholders, and remaining good stewards of the public's funds. Our tools will help you do more work in less time, so that your project management group has more time to analyze and perfect their schedules.

P6-QA and the Project Scheduler

Manually wading through a schedule and looking for errors is time consuming and prone to human error. Not only that, it's boring. No one wants to do it, but you need to check your schedule for errors!

Even worse then working through your own schedule for errors, is slogging through a contractor's. When you don't know how they have built the schedule, it can take days to make sure things hold together. Some of our clients have several layouts, reports and even special access databases and outside tools to do this which is very time consuming, error prone and boring.